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Judge denies restraining order for student who allegedly threatened professor

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UPDATE: 2:46 p.m. Jan. 26.

After a student threatened to kill his professor if she didn’t change his grade, a Torrance judge denied a request for a restraining order on Jan. 20.

El Camino’s request against 28-year-old student Dashiell Porter was denied by Judge Carol Boas Goodson in Torrance Municipal Court, according to a Daily Breeze article.

“It was denied because the judge is the one that makes that decision,” EC lawyer Michael Travis said.

The college was seeking the restraining order after Porter allegedly sent multiple death threats to his English teacher, Cynthia Somin, via Facebook Messenger.

According to the restraining order, on Dec. 26, 2015 Somin found 14 direct Facebook messages from Porter which he had sent from Jan. 6 – Dec. 8, 2015.

After attempts to get Student Development Director Greg Toya referred all questions to Community Relations Director Ann Garten because he said it was an active situation.

Garten then referred all questions to the Torrance Police Department.

Torrance PD did not release a copy of the restraining order because it had been filed at the Stanley Mosk Courthouse in downtown.

According to the copy of the temporary restraining order (TRO) received from Travis, the TRO was issued on Dec. 30, 2015.

The TRO indicated that Porter must stay 100 yards away from the school and Somin’s home and work until the Jan. 20 hearing.

Somin declined to speak to The Union on Monday, as she didn’t want to “dirty the water,” prior to Porter’s hearing scheduled for next Tuesday.

However, in an article from NBC, when asked about what went through her mind when she saw the messages she said, “I could be killed in my classroom, that my students could be harmed.”

“I’m always looking over my shoulder,” she added, in her interview with NBC. “Or I have to get a police escort.”

“I was very shocked and frightened for the professors and all of the students,” Allison Carr, English professor, said. “She was one of my evaluators and she put in a lot of time here at El Co.”

“According to her written statement, Somin said she was unaware of Facebook’s direct message feature until the day after Christmas, when she accessed them.

“The messages from Mr. Porter stated that he wanted to kill me for giving him a failing grade in my course,” she wrote.” according the Daily Breeze.

Associate Dean of Humanities, Elise Geraghty, was surprised by the decision and expressed concern for professor Somin’s safety.

“It was an upsetting decision,” Geraghty said. “I thought based on what I saw, that a restraining order was warranted.”

Geraghty has not spoken to Somin about the issue, but said that she is still on her regular teaching schedule for the spring semester.

The college has yet to take any disciplinary action against Porter, and that decision will come from the Student Development Office.

After El Camino’s request for a restraining order was denied, students and staff weighed in on the situation.

La’Keysha Fairley, 19, creative writing major, expressed her concern about those around him in class.

“This should be taken as a serious matter. Maybe he should be separated from class for counseling at that time.”

While Brunei Terrell, 18, studio arts major, said that the matter needs to be known and looked into.

“It is still a threat,” Terrell said. “People who don’t have autism or any medical issues, (may not) take action. Whereas someone with autism may take action (with the threats).”

To the surprise of several people, it was the first time they had even heard of the threats.

Marqueeda Watson, Library Media Technician, said that she doesn’t know enough about the case to have an opinion on the denial of the restraining order.

“Because I’ve seen it go both ways,” Watson said. “I’ve seen a case that was frivolous be accepted. I’ve seen a case where there needed to a restraining order, but it wasn’t accepted, because there wasn’t enough on the case.”

Watson added that she was unaware of the threats at all.

“I haven’t heard about it but it’s shocking to me because that’s horrible,” Emily Horomitz, 21, child development major, said. “If you fail a class that’s on you it’s not the teacher’s fault. I feel less safe after hearing this.”

Ana Rojas, 22, business major, said that she feels safe on campus, but that there needs to be information given to the students in a hastier manner.

“It’s my first time hearing about it right now,” Rojas said. “I think he had the right to speak up for himself but not to threaten the teacher. I feel like students should be aware of what happened. There might be other students that don’t know about it. It’s better to publish what happened.”

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Judge denies restraining order for student who allegedly threatened professor