UI athlete accused of vandalizing menorah

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CHAMPAIGN — A rabbi at the University of Illinois is hoping for more than an apology, after the menorah at the Illini Chabad was vandalized. He wants action. Police arrested a University of Illinois student-athlete for damaging the menorah. Her name is Ruby Rivera. She’s a junior and she plays for the Illinois softball team. Police say she’s been cooperative with the investigation. They say she volunteered to personally apologize to Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel at the Chabad. Tiechtel says he hasn’t heard it yet, but he hopes to if it means they can move forward in a positive way.

Even that won’t be enough to keep her from facing charges for criminal damage to property. This all stems from an incident early Sunday morning. In surveillance video, two people ran across the street to the menorah. They play with the lights and then break one of the branches. Rivera told police she was trying to unscrew a light bulb and didn’t mean to break it. Tiechtel says he was disappointed when he heard who it was.

“Athletes have a great power, so when an athlete does something [against] what athletics stands for, it’s sad,” said Tiechtel. “And it’s even more sad because you’d expect more.”

Authorities gave Rivera a notice to appear in court. They also interviewed the man in the video, but police say they didn’t charge him with anything, since his involvement wasn’t as direct. The University of Illinois athletic department confirmed he’s also a student athlete.

This was the third time the menorah was damaged in the last year. The first time was back in April. Then 20-year-old Max Kristy was charged with knocking it down last fall. He’s due back in court later this month for his involvement in the case.

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