Four Wesleyan University students are due in court on Wednesday after being arrested in connection with MDMA, or "Molly, overdoses that sent 11 off their peers to the hospital over the weekend, according to the Middletown Police Department.
Of the people hospitalized on Sunday night, two are still receiving treatment at Hartford Hospital. School officials declined to comment on their conditions, citing privacy concerns.
Wesleyan students Eric Lonergan, 21; Andrew Olson, 20; Zachary Kramer, 21; and Rama Agha Al Nakib, 20, were arrested on Tuesday on drug charges and immediately suspended from the school pending a formal hearing. Police said none of the students arrested were among those hospitalized.
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"The University takes allegations of the distribution of drugs seriously and is cooperating with state and local officials," Wesleyan University President Michael Roth said in a statement on Tuesday night. "We will do everything we can to make our community as safe as possible."
The charges are as follows:
- Lonergan has been charged with possession of a controlled substance and 16 counts of illegally obtaining or supplying drugs. His bond was set at $100,000.
- Olson was charged with two counts of possession of a hallucinogen, sale of a hallucinogen, possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia. Olson's bond was set at a total of $175,000. He was released after posting bond and is due in court in March.
- Kramer was charged with possession of drug paraphernalia, possession of a regulated substance and possession of less than half an ounce of marijuana. Bond was set at $75,000.
- Al Nakib has been charged with three counts of possession of a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell and possession of drug paraphernalia. Her bond was set at $100,000.
Middletown Police Chief William McKenna said all four students were in custody by 8 p.m. on Tuesday, adding that police searched "certain locations in and around the campus" to collect evidence.
Investigators are also working to identify chemicals included in the MDMA that sickened students on Sunday. Police have been investigating how the drug got to campus and believe they've identified the source of the "Molly," which they said is information that could help the ill students recover.
“This particular batch may have had a mixture of several kinds of designer drug chemicals, making the health risks unpredictable and treatment to combat the effects complex and problematic,” McKenna said on Tuesday evening.
It's not the first time the campus has had a close call with Molly. An email sent to students in September said several of their peers were hospitalized after taking the drug.
A spokesperson for the university said Wesleyan is taking steps to keep students both informed and safe.
"The drug ‘Molly’ is widespread and becoming increasingly more prevalent on college campuses nationwide. Following the student hospitalizations in September, Wesleyan's Health Services Department emailed information to all students warning about the dangers of the drug," Lauren Rubenstein, Associate Manager of Public Relations at Wesleyan, said in a statement Tuesday.
Doctors call "Molly" a designer amphetamine that drug users take to feel euphoric.
Rubenstein added that the information is posted on the Health Services website and will be distributed to students again in light of this weekend's overdoses.
"Wesleyan also offers a wide range of drug prevention, education and treatment programs and resources, and responds to drug and alcohol violations with sanctions, as appropriate," she added.
Students, however, have expressed doubts over the university's ability to mitigate the problem.
"I don't really think it's something a university can control as a unit," said Wesleyan sophomore Hailey Sholty. "I think it's something that individuals control themselves."
Police emphasized on Tuesday night that the investigation is ongoing and that "offenders will be held accountable."
"The safety and welfare of our citizens, including the ones on the Wesleyan campus, remain our top priority," McKenna said. "Incidents jeopardizing the safety will not be tolerated and those offenders will be held accountable."
Anyone with information is urged to call Middletown police.