Attorneys and students are urging the public to reserve judgment on the four Wesleyan students who were arrested Tuesday night with an assortment of drug charges.
Last Sunday, 10 Wesleyan students and two visitors to campus received medical attention after overdosing on Molly, commonly understood as a term for a refined form of ecstasy, Saturday night. The Middletown Police Department immediately launched an investigation and announced at a Tuesday press conference that four students — Zachary Kramer, Eric Lonergan, Andrew Olson and Rama Agha al-Nakib — were arrested. However, while the four students arrested are being charged with unlawful possession of drugs, attorneys for two of the four students have announced that their clients will plead not guilty, claiming they had no part in the incident.
In a Wednesday press conference, attorney Jennifer Zito encouraged the public to be mindful of the presumption of innocence. Her client, Zachary Kramer, has a perfect grade point average and a bright future ahead of him, she added.
“We ask that you wait until all the facts are in before you make any judgments,” she said in a statement.
Even though the prosecutor, Eugene Calistro Jr., said at the arraignment hearing Wednesday that Lonergan had “essentially a drugstore in his room,” his attorney, Jake Donovan, confirmed in a press conference that there was no actual allegation that his client had sold any of the substances that had led to the serious overdoses this past weekend.
“At this point, they are misdemeanor charges,” he said. “[I don’t have] the benefit of the chemical test results, so everything is up in the air at this point.”
Olson is the founder and co-president of Wesleyan’s chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy. While the national organization declined to comment on the criminal investigation, a statement by the executive director of the organization said that it neither condones nor condemns drug use, but that they are saddened when someone is injured as a result of drug use.
“At Wesleyan, one in 13 students was disciplined for a drug violation in 2013, proving that this scenario will play out again and again until we end drug prohibition and replace it with laws based on justice, compassion, evidence and common sense,” the statement said.
Lt. Heather Desmond, spokesperson for the Middletown Police Department, declined to comment on the investigation; Lauren Rubenstein, Wesleyan’s associate manager for media relations and public relations, did not respond to repeated requests for comment Wednesday and Thursday. Two other employees of Wesleyan’s press office also did not respond.
None of the four students have yet to enter formal pleas, a court official told the Associated Press, but they were released on bond — $50,000 each for Lonergan and Al Nakib, and $5,000 for Kramer. The fourth student, Olson, posted $175,000 bond on Tuesday.
However, despite claims that the students’ charges are not related to the Molly incident of this past weekend, the Associated Press reported that student witnesses at the arraignment hearings attributed the events of this past weekend to Lonergan, al-Nakib and Kramer.
Police officers at the hearing said they found 197 nitrous-oxide cartridges and amphetamine pills in Kramer’s dorm room, and Al-Nakib told police that one of her friends bought the Molly from Kramer and “came home puking and hallucinating.” Other witnesses told police Kramer was at the party Saturday night and that he has been known to sell Molly on campus in the past.
Only one student remains hospitalized, Desmond told the News Thursday. Because the family wants to respect the privacy of the student involved, she said, so the current status of the student is unknown.
On Tuesday, Wesleyan President Michael Roth sent a campus-wide email discussing the arrests, informing the community that they are taking the allegations very seriously and that the University is continuing to work with state and local officials on the investigation.
“None of us want to see arrests on our campus, but even less do we want to see ambulances rushing from our residences with students whose lives are in danger,” the email said.
The students were immediately suspended from Wesleyan upon their arrest. They will return to court on March 3.