The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

The student newspaper of Washington and Lee University

The Ring-tum Phi

Washington and Lee senior charged with stalking

Brandon Konlian, ’24, a top leader for Mock Convention, received the criminal charges a day after the event
Jenny Hellwig
Ricardo Vergara will spend six years in prison and five on probation.

This story was updated with new information March 11.

A Washington and Lee senior faces criminal charges after being accused of stalking his ex-partner. 

Brandon Konlian, ’24, was served a criminal misdemeanor charge of stalking Feb. 12. Konlian was not arrested, according to the Lexington General District Court clerk’s office. 

Feb. 12 marks the day after Mock Convention 2024, where Konlian served as finance chair, one of three top leaders for the event. 

Konlian was accused by his ex-partner. The Ring-tum Phi does not publish the names of alleged victims in a crime. 

According to a statement provided by the ex-partner, she obtained a no-contact directive from Washington and Lee’s Title IX office in early November. 

Title IX is a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions. The Phi has previously reported that no-contact orders are supportive measures that can be obtained without evidence showing that an accused student has committed wrongdoing. 

Konlian’s ex-partner obtained a no-contact order, she wrote, after receiving repeated messages via text, a handwritten letter and emails to two separate accounts.

The alleged victim wrote that Konlian violated the no-contact order Jan. 28 by emailing her personal account. Konlian’s attorney, Neill Wente, confirmed that detail in a statement to the Phi.

“The content of the messages are threatening, emotionally manipulative, and alarming,” the alleged victim wrote. “I obtained a preliminary protective order on February 2nd because I feared for my safety. I do not know what he is capable of and I and my family are terrified.” 

Jared Moon, the commonwealth’s attorney for Lexington and Rockbridge County, told the Phi that stalking charges are assessed largely based on a victim’s testimony, particularly “any types of interaction the victim has had” with the accused. 

Stalking is a Class 1 misdemeanor charge in Virginia. If convicted, Konlian could face up to 12 months in jail and/or a $2,500 fine, according to Virginia’s criminal code. 

The Rockbridge County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the case. Investigator Ryan McCullough declined to comment while the case is ongoing. 

The case is slated for a trial on March 15. Then, Konlian’s team will have an opportunity to accept a plea deal from the prosecution or present evidence and cross-examine witnesses before a judge, Moon said. 

Lauren Kozak, Washington and Lee’s Title IX coordinator, was subpoenaed as a witness for the March 15 trial.

Konlian is still listed in Washington and Lee’s student directory. A university spokesperson confirmed he is still enrolled as of March 7.

What these charges mean

Wente, Konlian’s attorney, sought to diminish the severity of the charges against his client in a statement. He said there was “no history of violence or threats” in exchanges between Konlian and the alleged victim.

Virginia’s criminal code defines stalking as communication from the accused “with the intent to place, or when he… reasonably should know that the conduct places [the victim] in reasonable fear of death, criminal sexual assault, or bodily injury.” 

But contacting a victim after they have given notice that they do not want to be contacted such as through a no-contact order could count as evidence that the accused meant to inspire fear in the victim, according to Virginia’s code.

Moon said stalking, a misdemeanor-level offense, is a less severe charge than the felony sexual assault charges that were brought against two former students, Ricardo Vergara and Dan Selby, last year. 

“They’re two completely different crimes,” he said. 

Nevertheless, this case represents a third time that a case has moved from Washington and Lee’s Title IX office to the criminal justice system in the past 18 months. 

Moon said he couldn’t recall if any other Washington and Lee students have been charged with stalking in the past, and there wasn’t an immediate way to review previous records to find that out.

Larissa Sneathern, the alleged victim’s attorney, declined to comment for this story before the case goes to trial, citing her firm’s policies.

This is a developing story. Check back for more updates.

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Shauna Muckle, Editor-in-Chief
Jenny Hellwig, Editor-in-Chief

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