We're huddled in my office. Chip Michalek, Charmaine's coach, is pacing the room. He's a tall man with big eyes and a bald head. He keeps saying, This is a good kid. She's never been in trouble before. It's his single contribution to the conversation. President Dungey has taken the seat behind my desk. Maureen Thisbe, the Provost, is standing by the door.

I say, The facts are simple. She struck Professor Blat with a book. He fell and hit his head in such a way as to injure his brain. He's in a comma.

Yes, the Provost says. But those are merely facts.

Did he assault her? Dungey says. Did he threaten her? Was she protecting herself?

This is a good kid, Coach Michalek says. She's never been in trouble before.

She specifically said he made no physical threats.

Physical! The Provost and the President say simultaneously.

The door was closed, Dungey says. Against school policy.

A violation of school policy, Thisbe adds.

Dungey: She said he was staring at her breasts.

Thisbe: And leaning toward her, hovering over her.

Dungey: She could have easily felt threatened.

Thisbe: She could have simply been trying to escape.

Dungey: His injury was sustained not from her blow, which may well have been an instinctive response to a threat, but from the subsequent fall.

Coach Michalak says, This is a good kid.

All three of them look at me. I'll talk to her, I say.

Soon, the President says.

Before the police talk to her again, The Provost adds.

She was threatened, Dungey says. She was trying to escape.

This is a good kid, the coach says. Really. Honest. I swear.