Psychology Experiment Ends in Arrests
May. 16, 2003
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Three college students were arrested for allegedly staging a kidnapping as a part of a psychology experiment to see how bystanders would react.
James Sanchez, 21, Steven DiStefano, 19, and Lun Chai, 19, were charged with breach of peace, which is punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.
``It was a pretty goofy thing to do,'' said Detective Capt. Bill Erickson of the West Hartford police.
Around noon on Wednesday, police received a call that a person was bound and gagged in the back seat of a car near the University of Connecticut's West Hartford campus. Witnesses said two people ordered the third to get out of a car and threatened to kill him, police said.
The ``victim'' then approached a woman and asked what she was going to do about it, police said.
The psychology students jotted down notes during the encounter, police said.
Police investigating the ``kidnapping'' found the car in a parking lot on campus, and the students inside the building.
``I think they actually yanked them out of finals,'' Erickson said. ``They may get an incomplete.''
Police initially feared the kidnapping was related to a series of crimes believed to be the work of gangs.
There were no telephone listings available for the students. E-mails seeking comment were not immediately answered.
Student psychology experiments must be approved ahead of time by an ethics board, said David Miller, associate head of the psychology department and coordinator of undergraduate studies at UConn.
``If students want to go out and do jackass stunts on their own, they probably should be arrested,'' Miller said. ``I cannot imagine something like that being approved.''
The students are due in court May 21.