The Psi Upsilon fraternity house, located at 2 Forest Park Lane on West Campus, was the site of an alleged sexual assault last Sunday.

Jason Ben Nathan / Sun Staff Photographer

The Psi Upsilon fraternity house, located at 2 Forest Park Lane on West Campus, was the site of an alleged sexual assault last Sunday.

February 10, 2016

Ballinger ’17 Released on Own Recognizance at Preliminary Hearing

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Updated with additional information.

Wolfgang Ballinger ’17, president of Cornell’s Psi Upsilon fraternity, was released on his own recognizance at his preliminary hearing Tuesday. The suspect, charged with sexual assault, did not appear in court and his case will proceed to the grand jury.

Ballinger waived his right to appear personally at the hearing, Ballinger’s attorney told the court Tuesday morning.



In proceedings that lasted under five minutes, assistant district attorney Wendy Franklin said no evidence would be presented at the felony hearing.

“We will go to the grand jury,” Franklin said.

Ballinger was then released by the court on his own recognizance — promising in writing to appear in court for all following proceedings. He had previously been remanded to the Tompkins County Jail awaiting a $25,000 cash bail or $50,000 bond.

On Saturday, Ballinger pled not guilty to first-degree attempted rape, first-degree criminal act and first-degree sexual abuse. Police have charged him with one Class D and two Class B felonies.

Ballinger was remanded in connection with an incident at Psi Upsilon’s fraternity house, after a female student reported she was sexually assaulted after being led to a bedroom at the house at 2 a.m. on Jan. 31.

Ballinger allegedly forced the student to engage in oral sex, sexually violated her with his hands and attempted to have sexual intercourse her, according to court documents.

The victim helped investigators identify Ballinger, and he turned himself in Feb. 4, according to a police statement.

The University placed Psi Upsilon on interim suspension Feb. 1, following the sexual assault allegations.

Devon Gilliams contributed reporting to this article.

  • Janice

    Will he be allowed to continue to attend classes on campus?

  • Judy

    He has not been convicted as of yet; are you presuming him guilty? If someone makes an accusation against you, do you want the authorities to be able to take any measures they want without due process? In authoritarian societies, that’s what happened — it didn’t go well.

    • Janice

      Should his alleged victim have to attend classes with him? Just heard he will not be allowed back on campus. Glad for once university is protecting victim instead of alleged perpetrator.

  • Judy

    You’re absolutely right that a victim should not have to attend classes with a perpetrator. My concern is that right now he’s an *alleged* perpetrator. If someone can report that someone else attacked them and that person is just kicked out, that’s a seriously dangerous precedent. That’s the type of thing that happened in, for example, Communist countries or the McCarthy era.

    • Janice

      I am not saying he be imprisoned but until he is acquitted I think he should be kept of campus. In light of the seriousness of the charges I am willing to put that Biden on alleged perpetrator instead of burdening alleged victim.

    • Lena

      This is not a Communist country nor is this a McCarthyism Revival, so you can calm down, Judy. However, there is a young man who sexually assaulted a girl, which is probably a more common incident within the Greek system than the public is aware of. These matters deserve immediate attention and that appears to be what’s happening.

      • Stephanie

        Nice argument. Just tell the other person to “calm down,” as if they have no cause for concern. As opposed to you, who presented an allegation as if it’s an irrefutable fact.

      • John

        Way to trivialize someone’s concerns, Lena.

      • Assaulted

        Lena sexually assaulted me. Therefore you should now be banned from campus for the sake of the victim. Remember, this is sexual assault, so I can’t be expected to have evidence and you can’t just pretend you didn’t do it.

        • Janice

          Well apparently so because Cornell officials have said he is banned from campus. So good for them. He can have due process in the courts but Cornell has the right to determine who attends.

          • Stephanie

            Cornell should have at least as high a standard of justice as our justice system in general — not a lower standard.
            If someone spends potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars and years of effort on their education, does the university have the right to take that from them if the person is not proven guilty? Once the person is suspended or expelled, other universities will not want them, and that’s fair IF they did commit a heinous crime.

  • Janice

    It is no wonder why rape cases and rape cases in universities are under reported. Let’s start being a little concerned about the victims here. If we are being real look into what percentage of false accusations of rape is and then tell me if this victim should have to run into perpetrator on campus.

    • SixthAmendment

      *alleged perpetrator
      *alleged victim

      Errors corrected

      • Janice

        Why don’t all the defenders of alleged perpetrators rights watch “the hunting ground” then tell me if you still feel like defending the rights of this rich New York frat boy whose daddy is going to get off one way or another. Cornell is holding itsel to higher standard. It does not owe everyone the right to attend. He is under investigation as is the fraternity for serious issue so I totally support them, as do other parents of children attending.

        • Judy

          I take it you don’t have a son, then?
          I’m a parent too — I have both girls and boys — and I do NOT support what Cornell is doing.
          The fact that rape has occurred on college campuses does not mean that *this* frat boy raped this girl. Perhaps it was mistaken identification. (Or possibly even a false accusation — yes, they have happened.)
          The fact that his father is rich does not mean that he raped someone. If he were another demographic, you would sound racist/classist. (Well, you do anyway.)
          It’s true that Cornell does not owe everyone the right to attend. But once they do attend, Cornell should not be able to just take away everything they’ve worked and paid for, based on only one person’s unproven allegation.

          • Janice

            Again, Judy I am not saying to imprison the boy. First off, could you really envision your son getting in this kind of situation. How many times has he been accused of raping someone? How many boys do you know for that matter that have been accused? Doesn’t happen everyday, where rapes on college campuses do. I am not so worried about my daughter because we have talked to her plenty about not putting herself in this type of situation. Before she went off to college had her watch the “Hunting Ground”. I am not a racist and am very insulted that you would throw that out in defending your position. If I bring out that he is a rich frat boy it is because let’s face it he will get off while someone of another race and or social economic status might not. I think you maybe are a little too nervous that perhaps your son isn’t clear that no means no and yes means yes.

          • Sunshine

            Janice, you keep bringing up “The Hunting Ground”. Advocacy films are horribly unreliable forms of information (true even with film’s whose thesis’ I agree with). The film has number of critics, including the many Harvard Law School professors. A number of intelligent critiques of the movie have been made including this apt excerpt from Jeannie Suk

            “The ironclad principle that you must always believe the accuser comes as a corrective to hundreds of years in which rape victims were systematically disbelieved and painted as liars, sluts, or crazies. This history, along with the facts that sexual assault is notoriously underreported and that the crime suffers no more false reports than other crimes—and the related idea that only those actually assaulted would take on the burden of coming forward—leads many advocates today to the “always believe” orthodoxy. We have seen recent high-profile instances in which that article of faith has led to damaging errors, as in Rolling Stone’s reporting of a rape at the University of Virginia, or the prosecution of the Duke lacrosse case. The extent of the damage comes out of the fact that “always believe” unwittingly renders the stakes of each individual case impossibly high, by linking the veracity of any one claim to the veracity of all claims. When the core belief is that accusers never lie, if any one accuser has lied, it brings into question the stability of the entire thought system, rendering uncertain all allegations of sexual assault. But this is neither sensible nor necessary: that a few claims turn out to be false does not mean that all, most, or even many claims are wrongful. The imperative to act as though every accusation must be true—when we all know some number will not be—harms the over-all credibility of sexual assault claims.”

            Besides representing a biased and questionable versions of the facts, the views demonstrated in “The Hunting Ground” are dangerous to just about everyone of every point of view. You shouldn’t rely on documentaries when there are a number of far more interesting writers proposing more intelligent thoughts that would support your point of view.

            As an aside you can find a interesting post on the subject here:

        • NewYork1989

          If you are going to cite The Hunting Ground, you really should try reading something about it, rather than blindly treat it like something reliable.

  • Not a frat boy… I’m a man!

    Greek system is ridiculous. Grow up. You need brotherhood? Go join the marines and stop being a wuss.

  • Alumnus

    It’s long past time now to enforce severe sanctions on drinking violations at Cornell. Zero tolerance should be the policy. That means immediate dismissal. In addition, if this assault charge is upheld, the student should be dismissed from the university. Sexual assault, often associated with alcohol abuse in the fraternity system, should also be met with immediate dismissal. This should cut down on the number of such incidents.

  • Carlo151

    Unfortunately our legal system is not a true judge of guilt or innocence . Money certainly helps in a courtroom, higher the firm that gets the top grads, while the prosecutors office gets the C+ student (not saying they are all not good courtroom lawyers, but top grads follow the top money).
    Then you can also win on technicality, search warrant rules, evidence, etc….

    The university is doing it right, hear from the victim, hear the accused, decide a prudent response.

  • Alumna

    That’s assuming the university really does “decide a prudent response,” but the burden of proof in these cases is only 50.01%. That’s basically a flip of a coin.
    And in too many recent cases, universities have bowed to political pressure.
    In sexual assault cases at many universities (Cornell included), there is no “hearing” and no right to question or cross-examine the accuser — a rule that was put into place to avoid further traumatizing victims, but also results in a lack of justice in some cases.

  • True Justice

    Remember the Duke Lacrosse case. Young men’s lives were ruined when a girl fabricated the exact allegations. And the whole university rallied behind her. They were proven COMPLETELY innocent after spending a fortune and being permanently thrown out of school. The girl was not even charged with perjury.. The DA, who also fabricated the case by withholding evidence spent three days in jail. The National Championship lacrosse team was disbanded and a group of young men’s reputations have been tarnished forever. This happens very often. I can name many incidences of men’s lives being ruined by allegations that were proven to be false. Can anyone say Tawana Brawley and Al Sharpton.

  • Jane

    I’m not convinced he’s guilty and I’m upset he has been
    told to leave!
    Also-was the girl drunk as is typically the case!
    It’s time students get instructed on “common sense.”