The nationally infamous rope found on Teachers College Professor Madonna Constantine's office door on a balmy Tuesday morning is up for a new round of close scrutiny. A state grand jury has subpoenaed the school's records concerning Constantine in an investigation of the appearance of the noose her door, an official confirmed.
Constantine teaches in the department of counseling and clinical psychology, and specializes in cultural competence. Marcia Horowitz, the spokesperson hired to speak on TC's behalf regarding the Constantine case, said she could confirm that TC got a subpoena and was complying with it. Horowitz would not discuss the specifics of the subpoena, only confirming the investigation.
The convening of the grand jury—a jury that determines whether evidence is sufficient for a trial and has the power to issue indictments—was first reported in the New York Post on Monday.
Representatives from the New York Police Department's Hate Crime Task Force said in an October press conference that Constantine was not considered suspect in the noose case. Despite fingerprint testing and the reviewing of security videotapes, the police have yet to identify a suspect.
The day after the noose was discovered, Constantine was met with cheers from the crowd gathered outside Zankel Hall. "I'm upset that our community was exposed to such an overwhelmingly blatant act of racism," Constantine said at the time. "Hanging a noose on my door reeks of cowardice on many, many levels." Constantine thanked those present for the "overwhelming support" in light of the "heinous and highly upsetting incident."
"I share your shock and outrage. This is an abhorrent act," TC President Susan Fuhrman had told the assembled crowd. New York State Senator Bill Perkins attended the protest as well and discussed the symbolism of the noose, adding that he was troubled that someone with a CUID and knowledge of TC's labyrinthine halls perpetrated the incident. "It's as if a burning cross was placed on the campus of Columbia University," he said. "This sounds like an inside job."
At TC town hall meetings following the hate crime, administrators spoke of using the moment to galvanize the community. Since then, the firestorm surrounding the noose initially cooled, only to escalate anew when TC officials issued an internal memo stating Constantine had been sanctioned on plagiarism charges.
It surfaced mid-February that Constantine had been under investigation for plagiarism when the noose was found. The professor's previous students, to whom TC granted legal indemnity, came forward with passages they said Constantine used with inappropriate attribution. While TC officials said they would not fire Constantine due to her tenured position, they did not otherwise specify the terms of her sanction.
Constantine and her lawyer, Paul Giacomo, Jr., denied the charges at the time and said she would appeal the sanction, claiming her "due process" had been violated. She released a statement that suggested the University targeted her as part of a racist "witch hunt." In another statement, her colleague Professor Barbara Wallace spoke out on Constantine's behalf against what she called the "institutionalized racism" of TC's administration.
Giacomo did not return calls for comment last night.
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