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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Public records show that a 18-year-old Rutgers student has been charged by campus police with a disorderly persons offense and a petty disorderly persons offense after she allegedly climbed and fell from a new building.
The future home of a Starbucks coffee shop on College Avenue was the scene of the crime shortly after 2am on September 9, in the strange case where the first-year student resident was injured after climbing up the side of a building located in the courtyard outside her dormitory.
"This building is constructed in a manner that would easily allow, and may invite, some individuals to climb on top of it," read an email sent to the university's Community Service Officers, warning them to keep a look-out for people climbing the building.
Days later, plywood boards were affixed to the structure, slated to open as a Starbucks inside the new $92 million mixed-use building that is a joint venture of Rutgers and New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO).
Curiously, it took the Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD) more than two weeks to issue criminal summonses, which are dated September 26 and signed by a detective who did not respond to the incident on the night in question.
It's not clear why it took police more than two weeks to file the charges.
At first officials said there was an ongoing criminal investigation, then they corrected themselves and claimed there wasn't, as we reported.
But New Brunswick Today pressed Rutgers further, pointing out inconsistencies between what the school's Office of Enterprise Risk Management was telling us, and RUPD records posted on the school website.
On October 14, Rutgers finally provided records that showed Thalia A. Castro, a resident of the 15-story highrise dorm that surrounds the Starbucks building, was the young woman hospitalized after the fall.
"15 ft fall from new starbucks building//building broke and she fell//damage to building," read one of the entires in a Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) report also provided to this newspaper.
Fifteen days after the incident, Castro got some more bad news as RUPD charged her with criminal mischief for damaging the building, claiming that it caused a "pecuniary loss of $500, specifically by breaking a wooden facade from the building structure."
The other charge filed against Castro was "defiant trespassing… for scaling the building… knowing the building was closed at the time."
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.