Prosecutor opts against filing charges in alleged hate crime assault of Jewish Michigan State student

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    LANSING, MI — After a month of investigating, authorities announced on Thursday they will not file charges in the case of a Jewish Michigan State University student who alleged he was the victim of a hate crime in August.

    Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings III issued a press release on his decision against authorizing charges. He said after weeks of investigating the alleged assault of 19-year-old Zachary Tennen proof a hate crime transpired simply did not surface.

    “After reviewing all of the evidence submitted by the (East Lansing) Police Department, I have reached the conclusion that no charges should be issued at this time,” Dunnings said in the statement. “I believe there is no evidence that any ethnic/religious/racial bias was involved in this incident.”

    Tennen, of Franklin, said he was at a party about 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 26 in the 500 block of Spartan Avenue, about a half-mile north of MSU’s campus, when two college-aged men asked him if he was Jewish. When he responded in the affirmative, the pair beat him unconscious then stapled his mouth, he alleged.

    Tennen, a sophomore journalism major, said his attackers made Nazi gestures and said they were members of the Ku Klux Klan. When he regained consciousness, Tennen said he took a taxi cab to Sparrow Hospital as no one at the party helped him.

    East Lansing police have said their investigative findings suggest the incident was not a hate crime. They identified an 18-year-old Farmington Hills man as a suspect in Tennen’s assault. The suspect was interviewed but not arrested.

    East Lansing police interviewed more than 50 witnesses. They also contacted every person known to have witnessed the incident and its immediate aftermath, Dunnings said.

    “The (police) report was completed and sent to my office on September 5, and I have had the report under review as I have taken the time to speak with certain individuals,” he said.

    Dunnings also released a letter from the Tennen family’s attorney, Henry Scharg, of Northville, who writes the Tennens would like the investigation to be closed.

    “The Tennen family is cognizant of the fact that substantial resources were expended to investigate these allegations and that there is insufficient evidence of a hate crime to go forward with a criminal prosecution,” Scharg writes.

    “The Tennen family is grateful for the professionalism of law enforcement and the Ingham County Prosecutor’s Office in conducting a full and fair investigation of this matter and believes that justice will be best served by closing this investigation at this time.”

    Dunnings could not immediately be reached for further comment.

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