Student targeted in acid attack in France has a message of forgiveness for her attacker

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Courtney Siverling, one of four Boston College students who were attacked with acid at a train station in France over the weekend, has a message of forgiveness for the woman who assaulted her.

“I pray that the attacker would be healed from her mental illness in the name of Jesus,” she wrote on Facebook, “and receive the forgiveness and salvation that can only come from Him.”

Siverling’s compassionate Facebook post garnered national media attention.

A 2015 graduate of Downingtown East High School, Siverling was with fellow Boston College students Charlotte Kaufman, Michelle Krug, and Kesley Kosten when the woman allegedly sprayed them with acid. None of the students was seriously injured by the chemical, which one of them described as a “weak solution of hydrochloric acid.”

The four women were in France on a study abroad program. Siverling, a Boston College junior pursuing a double major in international studies and French, is attending Paris-Sorbonne University. She and her classmates were returning to the French capital when the attack took place at a train station in the city of Marseille.

Authorities have said the 41-year-old alleged attacker was driven by mental illness, and not by an extremist ideology.

Courtney Siverling’s twin sisters, Megan Siverling and Danielle Curfman, describe their family as one of strong faith. Concerned about how some news media reports initially portrayed the alleged attacker as a terrorist, they hope instead to turn the story of the incident into a lesson on forgiveness.

Courtney began to write that lesson shortly afterward when she spoke of forgiving the alleged attacker in emails to family members.

“She definitely has the ability to look at something and see where God is working,” Megan Siverling said. Courtney believes the woman responsible “is someone who needs prayer and help.”

The incident also didn’t scare Courtney into leaving France and returning home to the United States. Her parents, Curt and Mary Beth Siverling of Chester Springs, said Monday that their daughter remains in Paris and is ready to begin her classes.