July 24, 2016

Ballinger ’17 Pleads Not Guilty to Charge of Sexual Abuse

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Former Cornell student Wolfgang Ballinger ’17 pled not guilty to one count of first-degree sexual abuse in a rare court appearance Friday.

Ballinger — who was previously the president of the Psi Upsilon fraternity and a student in the School of Hotel Administration — was accused of sexually assaulting a female student at the fraternity house in the early hours of Jan. 31.

An indictment of Ballinger, 21, issued on July 14, accused him of “subject[ing] another person to sexual contact by forcible compulsion,” The Sun previously reported.

On Friday, Steve Hyman, Ballinger’s attorney told CNYcentral that his client “intends [to] vigorously defend” the charges leveled in the indictment against him.

“Mr. Ballinger has pleaded not guilty … and expects the charges will ultimately be dismissed,” Hyman said.

On the night in question, Ballinger allegedly engaged in sexual intercourse with the victim, forced her to have oral sex and sexually violated her with his fingers, ignoring her verbal refutations of these advances, according to court documents.

Tompkins County Deputy District Attorney Andrew Bonavia represented the prosecution at the arraignment, and Tompkins County Court Judge Joseph R. Cassidy presided over the case, according to The Ithaca Voice.

Ballinger’s attorney did not request a bail amount, noting that the defendant had appeared in court whenever summoned over the course of the proceedings, The Voice reported. Cassidy warned Ballinger that a failure to appear in future court proceedings could result in the issuing of a warrant for his arrest.

In May, Ballinger filed a suit against Cornell claiming that the University’s methods of investigating sexual assault allegations are in violation of New York State Education law. An updated version of Cornell’s investigation policies is expected to be implemented at the end of August.

  • Alumna

    From what I’ve read before, I thought Ballinger was accused of *attempting* to engage in sexual intercourse. This article says that court documents allege he “engaged in sexual intercourse” (i.e., actually engaged in it, not attempted to). I don’t know which is wrong — this article or previous articles.

    Also, to the author: Language matters. Unless/until he’s convicted, you should not refer to the “victim” without a modifying word such as “alleged”. Or use another word altogether, such as “woman”.

  • No one

    The tone of your article is biased. You say that “Ballinger’s attorney did not request a bail amount”…true…but the DA also did not request any bail….which is why there was no discussion of bail, and why Ballinger was able to walk away from court without paying a dollar or spending a second in jail. Interesting that you failed to mention how the prosecution’s side and their agreement that bail is unnecessary in this situation. Also, every judge must explain that to anyone undergoing a legal/criminal investigation. Cassidy did not just say that to Ballinger as a scare tactic or a threat….work on your professionalism and journalism skills Phoebe Keller.