Ithaca, N.Y. — Cornell said Monday that it will end a criminal investigation into a student-activist who protested against the university’s Board of Trustees.

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The statement also says that Daniel Marshall, a senior at the university, has admitted to violating the university’s code of conduct and accepted responsibility for doing so.

A Cornell police investigator told Marshall in a secretly-recorded interview that the student would have his career ruined and go to jail for several years if he refused to cooperate with police.

See related: Students, profs decry Cornell police interview of activists; chief responds

Chief Kathy Zoner said student activists had been interviewed in connection with crimes committed on campus — 1) Unauthorized access to a computer; and 2) Burglary — and not for the expression of their political views. That claim was fiercely contested by student activists and university faculty.

On Monday, Cornell said that the complaint has been dropped. It said so in the same statement in which Marshall reportedly took responsibility for violating the code of conduct.

“With Mr. Marshall’s acknowledgment of responsibility, the matter has been referred to Cornell’s Judicial Administrator for appropriate disposition,” the university said in a statement, which can be read in full below.

“Consequently, the University has withdrawn its complaint with the Cornell Police, and further investigation of the events in the Statler Amphitheater on March 25-26, 2015, will cease.”

Both Marshall and a Cornell spokesperson said that the parties would offer no additional comment on the investigation.

The interview of Marshall drew significant media attention, with The Huffington Post writing a critical article of the university’s handling of the situation.

It also drew the ire of many faculty members and students. In an extraordinary gesture, over 100 faculty members signed a letter decrying the Cornell police handling of the case.

“A police officer threatening to drag a student from class in handcuffs? … Flat-footed and heavy-handed,” the letter states. “That sums up the actions of the administration and its police force.”

Here’s Cornell’s full statement on Monday:

As has been widely reported, on the evening of March 25 or early morning hours of March 26, 2015, an individual or individuals entered the Statler Amphitheater and accessed a computer they were not authorized to access. Cornell University officials lodged a complaint with the Cornell University Police, which investigated the matter as a burglary after examining physical evidence and obtaining witness statements.

Cornell senior Daniel Marshall made the following statement: “In my recent campus activities my intention was to bring to the attention of the Trustees the important grievances of students, which I felt were being ignored. I did not damage property or harm anyone. Nor did I engage in any criminal acts whatsoever. I do now realize I violated the Campus Code, however, and I accept responsibility.”

With Mr. Marshall’s acknowledgment of responsibility, the matter has been referred to Cornell’s Judicial Administrator for appropriate disposition. Consequently, the University has withdrawn its complaint with the Cornell Police, and further investigation of the events in the Statler Amphitheater on March 25-26, 2015, will cease.

We are pleased that we can now put this matter behind us.


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.