Chennel “Jazzy” Rowe spoke about her life after being terrorized and poisoned by her ex-roommate, former University of Hartford student Brianna Brochu. Brochu will serve 200 community service hours and be placed on probation after physically and emotionally traumatizing Rowe when the pair lived together.
Rowe did not object to Brochu’s punishment at a sentencing hearing, leading people to believe she supported the decision and forgave Brochu. But despite media reports implying as such, Rowe set the record straight in an interview with Blavity.
“Where’s the punishment for the crime?” she asked, saying that there was no #JusticeForJazzy, referring to the hashtag that went viral after her story hit headlines.
“I don’t forgive her. She has no remorse. The reports about her lawyer apologizing to me on her behalf are untrue. Her lawyer never apologized to me and she never apologized to me. I got no apology whatsoever. They didn’t even look at me,” said Rowe.
Rowe still suffers from what Brochu did to her — physically and mentally.
“I was on a really strong antibiotic to get rid of [bacteria] and that also has a lot of side effects,” she explained. “I have to be treated with this strength of antibiotic, for now on, for the slightest sickness I may feel. I’m able to take on a job now. I have to take medication. I lost a lot of weight and we’re working on that getting it back. This has affected my mental health to the point I’m not sleeping at night. I see a psychologist once a week and take long-term meds for that, too.”
Rowe did not initially believe Brochu’s behavior was racially motivated. But she did think race played a role in “how things were being handled.”
“But when I observed who she hung out with, the people she associated with on social media to bash me they were all white,” she recalled.
The West Hartford police had asked prosecutors to include a charge of intimidation based on bigotry or bias against Brochu. Prosecutors denied this request.
“The prosecutor said based on their investigation and interviews (of all white people) and because she doesn’t use racial slurs or anything it doesn’t classify as a hate crime –even though she referred to my ethnicity, it is not a racial slur,” Rowe said.
Brochu referred to Rowe as “Jamaican Barbie” in an Instagram post in which she bragged about what she did to harass Rowe.
Rowe knew Brochu was eligible for the rehab program at the time of the sentencing and therefore didn’t protest it, but she still does not believe the punishment is fair.
“Even though [Brochu] was eligible for the rehab program and everyone knew she would get it, we had some request[s] for her to do in addition to the rehab program and probation. One of them was for her to volunteer and serve in a civil rights or nonprofit organization so she could learn about the struggles of Black or oppressed people,” Rowe shared. “The judge told her she could do community service wherever she chose — like she could tutor kids in her own neighborhood.”
She believes the judge “had no choice” in giving Brochu such a light sentence because she was eligible for the program. But if the racial roles were reversed she wonders if it would have been different.
“Yes, I feel like if I was [white] and she was [Black] she would have gotten a real punishment. I feel like what they gave her was child’s play. It’s frustrating. She gets to go on with her life unaffected and unpunished for what she’s done to me, and I have to go on with my life affected — and punished by what she’s done to me.”
When asked about her next steps, Rowe said she is trying to move forward.
“I hope to be cleared by the doctors so I can return to school by next spring. I’m working to cover these medical bills. I hope to be less guarded moving forward,” she said.