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Lehigh University says November attack was not racially motivated

Lehigh University
Lehigh University website
Lehigh University

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — An investigation has determined that a November assault on a Black student at Lehigh University that officials originally deemed racially motivated was not, officials said Thursday.

Lehigh University President Joseph J. Helble said it was determined that "racist language" was used in the attack, but did not elaborate why the categorization of the attack has changed

  • Lehigh University is now saying November's attack on a Black student was not racially motivated
  • President Joseph J. Helble said "racist language" was used, but did not elaborate on how the categorization of the attack had changed
  • The school said it is in communication with the 22-year-old victim, who is "doing well"

"For all of our students, and especially our students of color following this incident, we want to underscore that your safety and well-being are our highest priority," Helble wrote in the update.

Joseph J. Helble, Lehigh University's 15th president. Photo | Courtesy of Lehigh University

"As a result of the investigation, the incident was determined not to be a racially motivated assault," he wrote. "However, there was a physical altercation in which racist language was directed at the student who reported the incident to the police."

Helble said the school is in contact with the victim, who suffered unspecified injuries from the assault, which the school said took place off-campus.

Helble said the victim is "doing well," now and thanked Bethlehem Police for their collaboration with the Lehigh University Police Department in the investigation.

When news of the attack first came out, the school indicated that the victim was 22 years old, and that the assault took place near South New and Morton streets.

At the time of the incident, Helble said in a college message that a Black student was walking off campus in the early morning hours and was physically assaulted by two white assailants who directed racist epithets at the student.