June 14, 2011

Police Arrest Teenager for Alleged West Campus Assault

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Cornell University Police arrested and charged Viktor P. Nikulin, 19, Tuesday for what police say may have been a racially motivated assault against an Asian male who was riding his bicycle on campus.

On June 5, three individuals in a vehicle yelled racial epithets at a student of Asian descent riding his bicycle on College Avenue near the intersection of Campus Road, police said. The vehicle followed the victim onto West Avenue where Nikulin allegedly exited the vehicle and assaulted him. The victim was treated for injuries at Cayuga Medical Center and released.

Nikulin, who is not a Cornell student, was arraigned Tuesday in the City of Ithaca Court and released on his own recognizance. Cornell Police have been in discussions with the Tompkins County District Attorney’s office to determine whether the assault can be prosecuted as a hate crime.

Chief of Police Kathy Zoner said that CUPD, working through leads from witnesses, contacted Nikulin and asked him to come into Barton Hall, where he was arrested.

“We are very proud of our investigative team,” Zoner said. “They took what was relayed in the best possible way by witnesses — but still incomplete information — and put it all together.”

While police initially reported four individuals in the vehicle, the description of the incident was later revised to only three people.

The other two individuals in the vehicle have not been charged, Zoner said. It will be up to the District Attorney’s office to determine if charges will be filed against the other two individuals, she said.

President David Skorton and Susan Murphy ’73, vice president of student and academic services, condemned the attack in a statement issued June 8.

“We are relieved to report that the victim of this incident is expected to recover fully, we are dismayed that such an incident should have occurred at all in our community,” Skorton and Murphy said in the joint statement.

Original Author: Juan Forrer