FindLaw Blotter - The FindLaw Crime and Criminals Blog

Is It Illegal to Tamper With or Vandalize a Roommate's Stuff?

Not a question you'd often wonder when it comes to roommates. Most of us don't live with someone we dislike to the degree that we would damage their belongings. But every now and then we don't have a choice in our living arrangements, like when we're assigned a roommate in college. Still, we'd like to think that even if we don't like someone we're sharing a room with, we can still act civilly during the cohabitation.

Then again, not all of us are Brianna Brochu, 18-year-old University of Hartford student who admitted to police that she licked her roommate's dining utensils and smeared bodily fluids on her backpack. So, what criminal charges might Brochu be facing?

"I Couldn't Speak"

Chennel "Jazzy" Rowe suspected something was amiss in her dorm room from the start. She later told police "she has felt ostracized by Brochu" since the beginning of the school year, said she felt like a "ghost" in her own room on a Facebook post, and described inexplicable pain over that span: "I had extreme throat pain and couldn't sleep, to the point I couldn't speak ... I could barely whisper," she said.

After Rowe (who is black) finally made the decision to move out, and was in the process of packing her belongings, a neighbor alerted her to a now-deleted Instagram post from Brochu (who is white) that read, in part:

"Finally did it. Yo girl got rid of her roommate!! After 1 1/2 month of spitting in her coconut oil, putting moldy clam dip in her lotion and rubbing used tampons on her backpack, putting her toothbrush in places where the sun doesn't shine, and so much more I can finally say goodbye Jamaican Barbie." [sic]

"Finally Did It"

Brochu allegedly admitted to smearing bodily fluid on Rowe's backpack and licking her plate, fork, and spoon, but she denied the rest of the Instagram boasts, claiming "anything else she bragged about on social media was a lie in an attempt to 'appear funny.'" That didn't save her from being expelled from school. University President Greg Woodward, described Brochu's conduct as "reprehensible" and affirmed she "is no longer a student at the University of Hartford. She will not be returning to the institution."

After the university reported the incident to police, Brochu was arrested and initially charged with third-degree criminal mischief and second-degree breach of peace. West Hartford Police are now saying they are asking the court to consider adding a charge of intimidation based on bigotry or bias. All told, Brochu could be facing up to six years in jail and $6,000 in fines.

So yeah, it's illegal to tamper with or vandalize your roommate's stuff.

Related Resources: