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Release: April 20, 2000

Arrest is made in College of Dentistry e-mail case

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- At 12:30 a.m. Thursday, April 20, officers from the University of Iowa Public Safety Department arrested Tarsha Michelle Claiborne in connection with racist e-mail and a bomb threat directed to individuals at the College of Dentistry.

Claiborne was taken to the Johnson County jail where she is being held pending arraignment. She is charged with three counts of harassment in the 3rd degree (a simple misdemeanor) in connection with three e-mail messages; one count of criminal trespass (a serious misdemeanor) in connection with an incident at a student's apartment; and one count of threats in violation of individual rights (a Class "C" felony) in connection with a bomb threat.

"It is essential that we acknowledge the superb police work done by the department of public safety," stated Ann Rhodes, vice president for university relations and university spokesperson. "We are deeply appreciative for the help provided by the FBI, the Iowa City police department, Information Technology Services (ITS) and other agencies that provided assistance."

After the first two e-mail messages were received, the computer from which they were sent was located. That area was kept under surveillance, and Claiborne was identified. A search warrant was obtained and according to the complaint, Claiborne admitted to sending the four e-mail messages that targeted minority students and faculty.

At this time, the investigation is continuing and additional security measures at the Dental Building will remain in effect.

"This has been an enormously difficult situation for the entire community. I am pleased that we appear to be nearing the end of this series of events," Rhodes said. "It is time to reaffirm our commitment to diversity and to work together as a community to get past this."

"This is a shock to all of us, and we need to begin a healing process and to use this opportunity to achieve a better and stronger community," said David Johnsen, dean of the College of Dentistry.

A Class C felony carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 (sec. 902.9(3)).

A serious misdemeanor carries a penalty of up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,500 (sec. 903.1(1)(a)).

A simple misdemeanor carries a penalty of up to 30 days in jail and a fine of up to $500 (sec. 903.1(1)(a)).

The university may impose additional sanctions.