Journalist arrested in Woolsey Hall

Yale has dropped charges of criminal trespassing against a Brazilian journalist apprehended last week for allegedly attempting to enter a private meeting and misrepresenting her intentions to Yale Police officers.

Claudia Trevisan, 48 and a Washington, D.C.-based correspondent for O Estado de S. Paulo, spent three and a half hours in prison Thursday night, she said, after being handcuffed and escorted out of Woolsey Hall. She said she was there hoping to secure an interview with the president of Brazil’s supreme court, Joaquim Barbosa. Barbosa was participating in the Yale Law School’s global constitutionalism seminar, an annual forum and discussion with leading international jurists that is closed to the public and to the press.

When Law School Dean Robert Post LAW ’77 learned about the arrest, he “immediately requested” that Trevisan be released and that the charges be dropped, according to a statement from University Spokesman Tom Conroy.

Reached Sunday evening, Trevisan told the News that the University’s dropping the charges is “the minimum they could do.” She said she was arrested without cause and subjected to “abusive behavior,” including being handcuffed, not being allowed to make a phone call and having to urinate in sight of male prison guards.

“If this is not violence, I really do not know what is,” Trevisan said. “I was shocked to know that Yale considers this kind of treatment as normal procedure.”

Trevisan said she entered Woolsey Hall with no intentions of breaking and entering. She said she was hoping to find out the details of Barbosa’s whereabouts when she came across a police officer on the second floor.

The policeman would not reveal information about the seminar, she said, and instead asked Trevisan to follow him downstairs, which she did. Asked what she wanted, Trevisan did not reveal that she was a journalist, which she said was “the one mistake I made.”

“But I don’t think I should be arrested for that,” she added.

Trevisan said she proceeded to provide her passport, in addition to her phone number and address and other information.

When she asked for her passport back, Trevisan said the policeman refused. This is when she said she “kind of lost it.”

“I said you can’t do that, and he said yes I can,” she recounted, saying the policeman became aggressive, telling her “we know who you are, we know you are a reporter, we have your picture.”

The police officer handcuffed her and called over two other officers to sit with Trevisan while he checked her passport, she said.

“Because of her attempts to enter the private meeting and because she misrepresented her intentions to a police officer, Ms. Trevisan was escorted from the building and arrested for trespassing,” Conroy said. “As a matter of standard procedure, she was handcuffed.”

Conroy denied Trevisan’s claims that her passport was confiscated from her or otherwise improperly handled: “The Yale Police Department does not seize or confiscate passports or other identification,” he said.

Trevisan said she waited in a squad car for an hour before being handed over to New Haven police officers, who placed her in a police wagon and brought her to the Police Department at 1 Union Avenue, where she was charged with first-degree criminal trespassing, fingerprinted and placed in a cell.

Trevisan said she was released 3 and a half hours later and quickly fled the city by train.

“I did not want to stay one minute more,” she said.

Yale Law School Spokesperson Jan Conroy declined to comment. Before Trevisan arrived in New Haven on Thursday afternoon, she had called Conroy to ask for details about the event. Conroy informed her that the event was private and that she was not allowed to attend.

New Haven Police Department Spokesperson David Hartman said the incident did not fall under the NHPD’s jurisdiction, and that the arrest was made exclusively by YPD officers.

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