17 year old charged for Viterbo University resident hall fire

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT)- 17-year-old, Victoria Unanka was a student at Viterbo University who was arrested for a residence hall fire in April.

She was released on a signature bond but is not allowed to have contact with Viterbo Campus.

Now she’s facing criminal charges and is expelled from the University.

Unanka, a Milwaukee resident, was in court on Wednesday for her initial appearance to face the charges against her.

The criminal complaint says she handled burning materials in a highly negligent manner.

A class A misdemeanor that if convicted may land Unanka no more than a $10,000 fine, prison time up to 9 months, or both.

During the court appearance, Unanka stayed silent and the court entered a not guilty plea on her behalf.

News 8 Now did reach out to her attorney but did not receive a response.

The director of resident life at Viterbo University says before being placed under arrest Unanka had already messaged a friend of hers that she was potentially a victim of another hate crime because of the fire next to her dorm room.

Unanka reportedly gave police an account that differed from the video footage before admitting she was responsible for the fire.

In the criminal complaint, Officer Daniel Howe says, he interviewed Victoria and she admitted to intentionally setting the fire in the second level lounge for attention purposes. Victoria was placed under arrest for arson and negligent handling of burning materials.

The fire occurred as Viterbo officials were investigating racist and anti-LGBTQ messages that were put in one of the resident halls.

The director of campus safety says Unanka was the victim of a couple of other alleged racially motivated hate crimes that happened in the weeks leading up to the fire.

Viterbo President Glena Temple said in a May statement that the investigation of the hate crimes left one person of interest and that the one person will no longer be part of the Viterbo community. They did not say who it was.