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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Professor Stabbed by Student He Was Helping, Police Say

November 01, 2000

CLAREMONT — A Pomona College philosophy professor was in serious but stable condition Tuesday after he was stabbed, police say, by a student possibly under the influence of drugs.

Frederick Sontag, 76, was attacked late Monday with a small knife, suffering wounds in the neck and chest. Senior Jared Essig, 22, was taken into custody first by campus security and later by Claremont police. He faces a charge of attempted murder.

Police said he "displayed symptoms of being under the influence of a hallucinogenic drug."

Officers held him for 24 hours and had him evaluated by mental health officials. Authorities called his parents, who were expected to arrive from Oregon to take custody.

The student was arrested Sunday on suspicion of shoplifting, vandalism and being drunk in public, police said. He was released about 8:30 p.m. Monday to Sontag and Ann Quinley, dean of students, at their request, police said.

Sontag, who has taught at the college since 1952 and was described as Essig's mentor, offered him a temporary place to stay. Suddenly, in the professor's car, the student drew a knife, Sontag said in a telephone interview from his bed at Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center.

"I said, 'Jared, give me that,' " Sontag said. "I reached for the knife; then he stabbed me."

Tuesday evening, Sontag was in good spirits, despite having lost three pints of blood. He said he didn't blame Essig--in fact, he even hired a lawyer to get the student released to his parents.

"I don't hold grudges," Sontag said.

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