By Maggi Quigley
Early in the morning on Thursday, Jan. 16, Yonatan Ayele and Belule Ayele, known on campus as “the Ethiopian twins,” were arrested for different incidents fifty minutes apart.
The first reported incident took place around 4:45 a.m. at a Faculty Court apartment. According to the police report, Yonatan Ayele visited the residence looking to speak to the resident. A friend spending the night in the apartment answered the door, and stated that Ayele was in violation of a no contact order issued by the University, and needed to leave. Ayele left, and the student decided to return to their residence. After the student had left, Ayele “entered through the front door of this residence, which was left unsecured.” He then “came upstairs to [resident’s name] apartment, and began to beat on the door, threatening and demanding for them to open it and come with him.” Ayele “continued to beat on the bedroom door for approximately eight minutes before breaking it to make an entry.” This commotion woke two others sleeping in the apartment, one calling the police, while one intervened. Ayele was taken into custody and charged with aggravated menacing and burglary.
The second reported incident took place on Park Place, shortly after the first, which involved Belule Ayele. A Wittenberg officer was enroute to speak with Ayele regarding his twin brother’s arrest, when the officer was redirected down the block, responding to a call regarding a break in. According to the police report the “suspicious male had removed his clothing and had made access to bedroom B [of the apartment].” The report states that upon arrival of the officer “observed Belule Ayele standing nude in the front room by bedroom A, holding a wooden stick and a bottle.” Ayele was taken into custody. Before the arrival of officers, the victim reported “he ripped the covers off the bed and climbed in,” and “the unknown male started grabbing [the victim] and pushing [the victim], hitting her on the bed and grabbing [the victim] around the neck.” Ayele then threatened the victims well being. The victim was able to break away and run into the room of her roommate. The roommate then “left the bedroom and confronted the male and told him to get out of the apartment. Both residents reported no prior interaction with Ayele. Ayele was charged with attempted rape, kidnapping, aggressive menacing, felony assault, and aggravated burglary.
Casey Gill, Dean of Students outlined the consequences for students in this situation, however could not speak to the situation of the Twins themselves, based on FERPA laws.
“If at any time at student has engaged in behavior that causes the institution to believe that he or she is a continued threat to others, the institution reserves the right to place the student on interim suspension pending the outcome of a hearing,” said Gill. “Simultaneously, the Wittenberg Police may issue a no trespass order.”
Gill continued, ” As a private educational institution, Wittenberg University can hold a student responsible for violating our Student Code of Conduct and Ethics through our internal processes. At any point, if a student is facing criminal charges, the university would direct any inquiries to the charging body such as Clark County or the City of Springfield. Wittenberg Police are fully sworn peace officers. If our police department were to issue any criminal charges, those would be with Clark County and the City of Springfield.”
In relation to Student VISA’s, Gill stated, “there is a high likelihood that any international student’s VISA would no longer be ‘valid’ if the student is no longer enrolled at an institution of higher education in the states. The University is required to send regular updates to the proper authorities (Student Visitor and Exchange Program – SEVIS) on changes to students’ statuses if they have acquired a VISA to study with us.”
Admissions, the Registrar, and the Office of International Education were all contacted but declined to comment. The twins are being held in Clark County jail on $75,000 bail each.