An Indian student at State University of New York, Oswego, was arrested Feb. 13, on charges of first degree rape but claims he was set up and walked into a trap. He has pled not guilty.
Abhay Pant, 18, from New Delhi is languishing at the Oswego County Correctional Facility since Feb. 13. His preliminary hearing before Oswego Town Court which was scheduled to be held Feb. 18, was shelved. His court-appointed attorney Joseph Rodack told News India Times the hearing was shelved after the District Attorney’s office gave Pant’s court-appointed attorney Joseph Rodack further information, Rodack told News India Times. The case will be heard by a grand jury at a date yet to be announced.
Pant is charged with first degree rape, a Class B felony. His family says Pant told them on telephone Feb. 14, that he was set up by a fellow student and walked into a trap and was even physically assaulted.
A statement released by SUNY Oswego says Pant is accused of entering a residence hall room and sexually assaulting the resident in the early morning hours of Feb. 13, a Friday. He was arraigned in Oswego Town Court and remanded to the county jail in lieu of bail which is set at $50,000 cash or $100,000 bond. According to the online news outlet Syracuse.com, Pant lived in Hart Hall on campus.
Julie Blissert, spokeswoman for SUNY Oswego told News India Times that a report was made to campus police at 1:03 am on Feb. 13, by a third party resident in the hall where the incident allegedly occurred. “It was neither a victim or the accused” who made the report, Blissert said. The police went to investigate, and “I’m sure they spoke to both sides,” she added referring to the alleged victim and Pant. The matter has now entered the court system and is no longer within the purview of the university, Blissert said.
Rodack said he could not discuss the details of his client’s case but that a grand jury could be meeting as early as within a week to decide what charges if any would be laid on Pant. Only then will the case go to trial.
Pant’s brother-in-law Dr. Nripen Bishnoi, an Ear Nose Throat surgeon in India, told Desi Talk Pant had spoken to his sister who was home when he called Feb. 14 from Oswego County Jail, N.Y. According to Bishnoi, Pant came to the U.S. Jan. 19, to join a four-year course in computer engineering. He said Pant’s account of the incident was as follows – on Feb. 13 night while he was studying in his room, his room-mate asked him to leave because he was with a girl. Pant walked out of the room and the alleged victim called him into her room to say he could continue to study there. As Pant was studying, the alleged victim began fondling him. He asked her not to and she allegedly punched him in the stomach, a blow from which he nearly passed out. She began to undress him, and he ran out of the room and was seen by some other students in a state of undress. A few minutes later the police came and arrested him.
“He is a very innocent and religious person and we are fully behind him,” Bishnoi said. “We have been trying for the last few days to contact him but the police are not even giving our messages to him,” Bishnoi told Desi Talk.
A spokesman for Oswego City Police told Desi Talk no one is allowed to call in and be allowed to talk to a person in jail and that Pant would have to make collect calls to do so. The Oswego County Sheriff’s Department did not get back to News
India Times by press time.
Rodack said he had spoken to Pant and had “some conversations” with some of his relatives, but that he could not comment on the details of the case. Meanwhile, “I am continuing my communications with the DA’s office,” he said.