Kasteel Well students attacked by teens in Croatia

by Beacon Staff • April 9, 2008

Sophomore Brock Pisciotta was the first student to get jumped by the teenagers as he was coming out of a Croatian bar called Fresh.,Students visiting Dubrovnik, a tourist city in south Croatia, as part of the college's Kasteel Well study abroad program, were attacked in two separate incidents by groups of Croatian teenagers last week.

Sophomore Brock Pisciotta was the first student to get jumped by the teenagers as he was coming out of a Croatian bar called Fresh.

He said he and a female friend were walking back to the hotel when a group of teenagers asked them for a cigarette.

When Pisciotta responded that he did not have any because he did not smoke, he said the gang became angry.

"Next thing I knew there was a foot in my face and then I got pushed to the ground and was being kicked and punched by probably around eight of them," the marketing communication major wrote in an e-mail message.

He said two other female Emerson students walked by and joined his friend who was yelling at the gang of teenagers to stop. After they dispersed, Pisciotta said he was amazed to find he was not badly injured.

Pisciotta said he and his friends continued back to the hotel, running into another male Emerson student who'd also been attacked.

He told them he'd left behind sophomore Dan Rosenberg.

When the group reached the hotel, Pisciotta said they called the police.

This is the first time the Kasteel Well students have visited Croatia as a group. The trip was part of two mandatory excursions outside the 31-country wide Schengen Area taken in order to avoid visa complications.

Before the creation of the Schengen Area, all Castle students visited London and Prague together, but the second trip was replaced this semester with a Croatia excursion because Prague falls inside the Schengen restrictions.

Director of International Study and External Programs David Griffin said he was aware of the attacks, but would not discuss details or further action until his office in Boston received an official incident report from the Castle staff.

Rosenberg said he and some friends were having drinks and around 11 p.m. headed to Fuego, a Latin dance club.

On the way back to the hotel, he and a male friend also ran into a teenager who asked them for a cigarette.

"As I heard him come closer, I looked back to say 'Sorry, I don't smoke' and as soon as I turned my head I took a kick to the nose," Rosenberg wrote of the night's second attack in an e-mail message.

Rosenberg said more teenagers joined the first one before he managed to run a block away and flag down a man standing by a Vespa, who drove the marketing communication major to his hotel to meet up with the police, Pisciotta and the other students who'd had similar experiences.

College President Jacqueline Liebergott said Griffin sent an e-mail alerting all the students' parents to the incidents and reporting that no one had been badly hurt in the attacks.

Rosenberg, however, said he and two other students were taken to the hospital by police following the attacks.

"At a certain point the police asked me to come with them to the hospital, since my nose had been bleeding heavily," Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg said he was X-rayed and seen by a doctor, who told him his nose was not broken but that he may have suffered a concussion.

Rosenberg said the group was at the hospital for about two hours.

At around 3:30 a.m., he and the other two students went to the police station to give statements, which took an hour, before returning to the hotel.

Vice President of Public Affairs David Rosen confirmed that four Emerson males had been attacked in Dubrovnik and that three went to a local hospital to get checked out.

He said the Croatian police had apprehended suspects as of press time.

Rosenberg speculated that the attacks were motivated by anti-tourist sentiments.

"They also didn't try to rob us so it was just aggression, I guess," Rosenberg said. "Kids just wanted to fight."