November 14, 2011

Teenager Pleads Guilty to West Campus Assault

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Viktor Nikulin, 19, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault in the third degree on Oct. 5, according to Tompkins County District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson. Nikulin, who is not a Cornell student, was arrested in June after attacking an Asian male student on West Avenue.On June 5, three individuals in a vehicle yelled racial epithets at the student, who was riding his bicycle on College Avenue near the intersection of Campus Road, police said. The vehicle followed the victim onto West Avenue, where Nikulin exited the vehicle and assaulted the student. The victim was treated for injuries at Cayuga Medical Center and released.Nikulin was arrested nine days later. The D.A.’s Office originally considered charging Nikulin with a hate crime, Wilkinson said, given the nature of the incident. However, she decided to forgo pursing this charge.“After reviewing the evidence in close consultation with [the victim], we made the decision not to force the issue of a hate crime,” Wilkinson said.She said that the victim was actively involved in the investigation and the decision not to pursue a hate crime charge.“We put a lot of time into this case,” Wilkinson said. “The victim was part of the investigation and the decision making process regarding the plea bargain.”Wilkinson said that the investigation turned up several witnesses to the assault.Nikulin is still awaiting sentencing in Tompkins County Court. The maximum punishment for third degree assault is one year in prison, according to Wilkinson.“He could receive anything from a fine, to a fine and probation, or a fine and jail time, or straight jail time,” Wilkinson said. “He will have a criminal record as a result of this.”Nikulin’s lawyer, Seth Peacock, could not be reached for comment.

Original Author: Joseph Niczky