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North Dakota fraternity cleared of hate crime accusation

North Dakota fraternity cleared of hate crime accusation
Haakon Gisvold
Haakon Gisvold

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — A monthlong police investigation has concluded that a gay man who reported being the victim of a hate crime at a University of North Dakota fraternity invented the story and actually instigated the fight.

WDAZ-TV reports that police strongly recommended charging Haakon Gisvold, 18, who is not a UND student, with providing false information to police, but prosecutors declined.

“While probable cause may exist to conclude that such an offense took place, at this time there is not a substantial likelihood of conviction; as such, pursuing a criminal charge is not deemed to be in the interest of justice,” Grand Forks County State’s Attorney David Jones told WDAZ-TV ( ).

Gisvold did not immediately respond Friday to Associated Press requests for comment made by phone and social media.

Gisvold told police in early September that he was the victim of homophobic taunting and an assault at the Lambda Chi Alpha house. He said he was called anti-gay slurs, choked and stripped of his clothes while attending a party. The fraternity chapter was placed on limited operations while the UND and Grand Forks police departments investigated.

Authorities said their monthlong investigation, including interviewing 150 witnesses, concluded there was no evidence of a hate crime, and that Gisvold instigated a fight.

“Throughout the investigation we looked at many different angles and many different things, and we uncovered some of those details,” university Police Sgt. Dan Weigel said.

The university said in a statement that it would review the investigation results, “determine any next steps,” and “continue to strive for a safe and welcoming environment for all within our campus community.”

Fraternity member Eric Hanson said the outcome of the investigation was “a relief for everyone.”

“Throughout this whole time it’s been a real stressful situation,” he said. “I mean, everybody was getting phone calls from their grandparents, their aunts, uncles, their parents asking, ‘What did you guys do?'”

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