Jury Awards Bakery $11.2 Million, Says Oberlin Official Falsely Accused It of Racial Profiling

Oberlin College, a highly rated liberal arts educational institution in Ohio, with a long tradition of providing educational opportunities for African Americans, has been assessed a $11.2 million penalty from a Ohio jury. The case involved three Black students who claimed they were victims of racial profiling after they were caught stealing from a local bakery. The ruling found that the “college inflicted emotional distress, interfered with business relationships and libeled the family-owned bakery in downtown Oberlin.”

In 2016, three Black students were arrested after they were caught stealing and attempting to buy alcohol with a fake ID at Gibson’s Bakery. The students claimed that they were being racially profiled by the bakery. As a result, the arrests were met with protests from Oberlin students and faculty. Additionally, evidence presented at the trial showed that the dean of students, Meredith Raimondo, created a flyer that told students to boycott Gibson’s Bakery, claiming the local business had a history of racial profiling.

In 2017, the students pleaded guilty to the attempted theft and admitted that they were not racially profiled. As a result of the lawsuit, Oberlin was ordered to pay damages to Gibson’s Bakery of at least $11.2 million. The penalty could increase after an upcoming hearing on punitive damages.

Donica Thomas Varner, vice president, general counsel and secretary of Oberlin College, in a statement to alumni, wrote that “neither Oberlin College nor Dean Meredith Raimondo defamed a local business or its owners, and they never endorsed statements made by others. Rather, the College and Dr. Raimondo worked to ensure that students’ freedom of speech was protected and that the student demonstrations were safe and lawful, and they attempted to help the plaintiffs repair any harm caused by the student protests.”

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Two Black Scholars Appointed to Faculty Positions

The new faculty are Esther Jones at Brown University and Dagmawi Woubshet at the University of Pennsylvania.

Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision is Established at Bowie State University

"The new program will help to increase the number of counselor educators within the counseling field and the number of competent Black counselor educators," says Dr. Otis Williams, chair of the Bowie State University department of counseling and psychological studies.

Elizabeth City State University Partners With the University of Tennessee Health Science Center to Increase Representation of Black Graduate...

"We are excited by this partnership with UT Health Science Center and the opportunities this brings to our students who wish to pursue advanced degrees," said Kuldeep Rawat, dean of the Elizabeth City State University School of Science, Health and Technology.

Kimberly White-Smith Honored for Outstanding Contributions to Teacher Education

“Through her leadership and scholarship, Dr. White-Smith inspires a new generation of teachers to serve students and approach their work with equity, compassion, and respect,” said Gail F. Baker, provost and senior vice president at the University of San Diego. 

Featured Jobs