Riverhead Supervisor Yvette Aguiar said yesterday she has referred the racist hate mail received by the former Riverhead school superintendent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Aguiar made the announcement during the town board meeting after questions and comments about the incident from two community members. She condemned the acts as “despicable” and said they would not be tolerated.
In the week before former Riverhead school superintendent Dr. Aurelia Henriquez abruptly resigned from her position June 30, she received three handwritten notes containing ethnic and racial slurs and hate speech, according to documents obtained from the Suffolk County Police Department through a Freedom of Information Law request.
According to SCPD police reports, one note was left on the windshield of her vehicle parked outside her Patchogue home, along with the head and arm of a brown-skinned Barbie doll some time between 9:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 21 and 7:30 a.m. on June 22. The other two notes arrived June 25 in separate envelopes via U.S. Mail addressed to the superintendent at the Riverhead Central School District administrative office on Osborn Avenue.
“I asked that the matter be investigated,” Aguiar said in an interview after the meeting.
“Acts of racism are intentionally divisive and against the moral fiber of society,” Aguiar said.
All three notes were referred to the Suffolk County Police Department Hate Crimes Unit. Suffolk County Police determined Henriquez’s complaints to be “founded” but closed their investigation “due to the complainant’s unwillingness to cooperate,” according to a July 24 report provided in response to RiverheadLOCAL’s FOIL request.
Henriquez declined to comment on the incidents or their resolution, but issued a statement that said, “To safeguard my family’s privacy and safety, I wasn’t interested in pursuing this any further.”
“We accept the findings of SCPD, but to exhaust all investigative avenues, we have forwarded it to the FBI for review,” Riverhead Police Chief David Hegermiller said in an email today.
The superintendent received a similar note in August 2018 and that, too, was forwarded to the county Hate Crimes Unit. “She did not at that time want to pursue the matter,” Hegermiller said.
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