A Cornell student arrested last Friday following a verbal and physical altercation says, “I was involved in a verbal exchange which I deeply regret.” 19-year-old John Greenwood was charged with assault in the third degree.
“I used language that was completely unacceptable and inappropriate; language that neither reflects my values nor who I am,” Greenwood said in a statement he e-mailed to 14850 Today. “For that, I accept full responsibility and sincerely apologize to my fellow students, the entire Cornell community and my family and friends.”
According to a message to students, staff, and faculty over the weekend from Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life, “a verbal exchange between Cornell students including the use of racial slurs led to a physical assault and the arrest of one undergraduate student” early Friday morning.
“Witnesses describe the student who was arrested for physical assault as having used racial slurs,” said Lombardi, who added that students involved appeared to be connected with a “currently unaffiliated fraternity.”
Despite statements from Psi Upsilon’s chapter at Cornell and the fraternity’s national office that Greenwood “is not and has never been” a member of their fraternity, evidence shows the 19-year-old student may have been an “underground” recruit of the inactive fraternity chapter.
Greenwood says he is “committed to doing everything I need to make things right.”
“In the fullness of time I am confident that the truth of what happened will be clear,” he says. “However, even a full exoneration cannot justify my use of such abhorrent language.”
Greenwood’s attorney, Ithaca lawyer Raymond M. Schlather, reached out to local media on Tuesday night to defend his client. “To be clear, the use of the n word, and any related racist or derogatory language, is completely unacceptable not only at Cornell but anywhere in America,” Schlather said in a statement. “My client understands this well; such language not only offends his values but does not reflect the person he is.”
Schlather alleges, “The facts of this matter, however, establish that John was in no way involved in any physical altercation of any kind. Nor did he commit any crime.” The attorney did not respond to our requests for clarification or answer our additional questions.
“I sincerely apologize for my behavior,” Greenwood says.