Working with the FBI, University Police have tracked down the man they say is responsible for sending racially offensive e-mails to two Yale students last March, University Police Chief James Perrotti said.
Perrotti said police traced the e-mails to Kirk Rasmussen, 18, who allegedly sent the messages from his home in Westminister, Calif. The state of Connecticut issued a warrant on Dec. 28 for his arrest, though he has not yet been arrested.
Two students received the harassing e-mails March 13, and submitted a complaint to University Police shortly thereafter. Yale Police collaborated with the FBI cyber-crime task force in the investigation and were able to determine personal information about the assailant from an internet account, Perrotti said.
“With their assistance, we were able to get the user information through America Online,” Perrotti said, “The FBI had agents from the California division interview the subscriber to the AOL account, and it was determined that someone in the household was responsible for the e-mail.”
The warrant charges Rasmussen with harassment and intimidation based on bigotry or bias. The bond has been placed at $20,000, Perrotti said.
Rashayla Brown ’04, one of the two students who received the e-mail, said she felt glad the man allegedly responsible for the offensive messages had been found.
“I’m really happy that the person has been tracked down, and I hope in the future that people who have any problems with what an organization through the African American Cultural House is doing will understand that harassment will not be taken lightly,” she said.
Brown, a former board member of the Black Student Alliance at Yale, said she thought Rasmussen got her contact information from the BSAY web site, since another member then listed on the site, Julianna Bentes ’04, also received the offensive e-mail.
Perrotti said Rasmussen admitted to the FBI that he sent the e-mails after he got upset over a chat room conversation he had with one of the students. Rasmussen then searched for the student’s information and sent the offensive messages that were tracked by the FBI, Perrotti said.
“The FBI sent the case back to us, and we applied for an arrest warrant based on the information developed in the investigation,” he said.
Perrotti said University Police secured the arrest warrant under state instead of federal charges and will attempt to deal with the situation working with California authorities on a local level.
“We haven’t made the arrest yet. It’s not an extraditable offense. But we will work with the local agencies out in California,” he said.
Perrotti said Rasmussen does not have a previous record of this type of activity.
FBI New Haven spokesperson Lisa Bull said she could not comment on the recent arrest warrant because the case is still under investigation.
New Haven Police spokesperson Bonnie Winchester said collaboration on this case between the New Haven Police Department and Yale Police strengthened the ties between the two.
“The cooperation among the agencies involved was a great thing,” Winchester said.
Perrotti said the partnership that developed between University Police and the FBI cyber-task force was critical to the issue of the warrant.
“It will also send the message that this type of discrimination is not going to be tolerated,” Perrotti said.