An Ohio jury has ordered Oberlin College to pay $11 million to a bakery which said it was libeled and wrongfully accused of racially profiling students.
The case stems from the November 2016 arrests of three black Oberlin students at Gibson's Bakery and market near the college's campus in Oberlin, Ohio. One student, Jonathan Aladin, was accused of attempted robbery for allegedly trying to "steal wine or otherwise illegally obtain wine" from the bakery, according to a defamation lawsuit [cnn.com]. He would eventually confess in a written statement to buying alcohol illegally. Two other suspects, Cecelia Whettston and Endia J. Lawrence, were arrested and accused of misdemeanor assault, court documents state.
After that, Oberlin staff members tried to discredit the family-owned bakery, the lawsuit says. Oberlin College staff -- including deans and professors -- and students engaged in demonstrations in front of Gibson's Bakery following the arrests of the three students, the lawsuit stated. The suit also said Oberlin Vice President and Dean of Students Meredith Raimondo and other college staff members "handed out hundreds of copies" of a flier to the community and the media stating that Gibson's Bakery and its owners racially profiled and discriminated against the three students.
A mass email sent by Oberlin College's Vice President and General Counsel to school alumni criticized the decision of the jury, despite the trial not being over. The email was sent ahead of a punitive damages hearing [tennesseestar.com], which may triple the amount Oberlin College [wikipedia.org] has to pay.
Also at Inside Higher Ed [insidehighered.com].