by The Tablet Staff
BRONX — A former art professor at Manhattan’s Hunter College charged in May with menacing and harassment of a reporter following an incident where she had confronted pro-life students at the college, could strike a plea deal with Bronx prosecutors.
Shellyne Rodriguez, fired from her position at Hunter May 23, appeared in Bronx Criminal Court Aug. 14 for the assault case in which she held a machete to a New York Post reporter’s neck. That incident occurred after reporter Reuven Fenton and a photographer came to Rodriguez’s Bronx apartment to discuss the confrontation with the students, during which she yelled at them and tossed their informational pamphlets from a school hallway table. Both confrontations were videotaped.
According to the Post, Judge Matthew Bondy indicated there was a “possible disposition” in the case. He said he had received a letter from Bronx Community Solutions, a neighborhood-based program that offers alternatives to jail for criminal defendants, including counseling and community service.
The judge also extended orders of protection for Rodriguez to stay away from Fenton. The next court date is set for Oct. 2.
The Post said the Bronx District Attorney’s Office had not “determined nor communicated a plea offer yet” to Rodriguez and her lawyer as of Aug. 14 but, according to a district attorney spokesman, were “reviewing information sent by defense counsel, continuing our investigation, and keeping the victim apprised of any developments.”
The May 2 incident with the pro-life students went viral May 19 and four days later Fenton and a photographer showed up at her apartment to interview her about it. Rodriguez held a machete to Fenton’s neck and was seen chasing him back to his car while wielding a machete.
The school fired her after that confrontation, and two days later she turned herself in to police.
“Hunter College strongly condemns the unacceptable actions of Shellyne Rodriguez and has taken immediate action. Rodriguez has been relieved of her duties at Hunter College effective immediately and will not be returning to teach at the school,” the college said in a statement.
In 2021, Rodriguez filed a federal lawsuit against the city, charging mistreatment at the hands of the NYPD when she was arrested while taking part in a June 2020 “F–k the police” protest in the Bronx over the murder of George Floyd.
Prior to the incident with the Post reporter, Hunter College had opened an investigation into Rodriguez’s interaction with the pro-life students, stressing that the school was “taking this matter very seriously.”
The Hunter College video shows Rodriguez standing in front of the table and telling the students in a raised voice, “You’re not educating s—t. This is f—king propaganda!”
Students are seen on the video standing behind the Students for Life informational table as Rodriguez shouted at them.
Students at the table the day that happened told The Tablet that they were surprised by it, but it would not deter them from future advocacy.
“It was scary. The professor was very aggressive,” said Lucie Lee, a rising junior at the School of Art and Design who described herself as “100% pro-life” and said she was there that day helping out her Hunter College friends. “I was surprised that a professor who is supposed to be teaching students was trying to prevent free speech.”
The students were distributing pamphlets on the dangers of chemically induced abortions as well as information about resources available to pregnant students. They also displayed models of unborn babies at various stages of growth.
In response to the potential plea deal for Rodriguez, Krisit Hamrick, vice president of media and policy for Students for Life, told The Tablet: “We hope that those involved with the case will be careful to consider what is best for all parties.”