April 3, 2013

Victim Details Alleged Rape to Ithaca Police Department

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Updated Thursday with a statement from Dean of Students Kent Hubbell ’69 and information that the victim is a Cornell student

When a Cornell student allegedly woke up at 4:45 a.m. Saturday and realized she was being sexually assaulted by an unknown individual, her girlfriend — who was with her in the room — attempted to fight the assailant off, according to court documents obtained by The Ithaca Journal.

Peter Mesko ’13 was arrested and charged with first-degree rape in connection with the incident, the Ithaca Police Department said Tuesday. In a statement released Thursday, Dean of Students Kent Hubbell ’69 denounced the incident and reminded the Cornell community of resources available to victims of sexual assault.

“The arrest this week of a Cornell student charged with raping a fellow student has shocked our community,” Hubbell said in the statement. “I want to reiterate that Cornell University condemns all acts of sexual violence and abuse, and we take every report of sexual harassment, assault or misconduct seriously.”

At about 11 p.m. Friday, the victim and her girlfriend went to Dunbar’s in Collegetown. The victim consumed two beers, a shot of tequila and a whiskey and Coke, and was “moderately intoxicated,” according to court documents.

Still, the victim told police, “I remember the entire night and purchased my own drinks.”

After leaving the bar, the victim and her girlfriend returned to the latter’s home. Finding it unoccupied, they fell asleep in the girlfriend’s bedroom between 1 and 1:15 a.m., according to The Journal.

At about 1:30 a.m., the victim’s girlfriend was awakened by her housemates and their friends, who were playing drinking games outside the bedroom. While asking them to quiet down, the girlfriend –– who had previously interacted with members of the wrestling team –– noticed several wrestlers among the guests, according to The Journal.

At about 4:45 a.m., the victim woke up and realized she was being raped.

“I woke up confused and uncomfortable and said, ‘I don’t like that, stop!” the victim said in the court documents.

The victim’s cries awakened her girlfriend, who noticed a partially dressed man “latched tightly onto” the victim, according to court documents.

“I then pulled and pushed the man off of her and onto the ground,” the girlfriend said, according to court documents. “I got a glance of him and recognized his face as being a wrestler. I wasn’t sure of his name, but I recognized him from seeing him with his teammates for various occasions and around campus working out.”

The victim and her girlfriend then fled from the bedroom and locked themselves in a bedroom upstairs, according to court documents. The girlfriend returned downstairs about five to 10 minutes later “to get a visual” of the attacker’s face.

Upon entering her room, she saw Mesko lying on her bed with his pants “slightly pulled down,” according to court documents.

“I quickly took two pictures of him. He said aloud ‘no’ when he recognized that I had taken them,” the girlfriend said, according to court documents.

The girlfriend then returned to the room upstairs with the victim. Mesko followed her about 10 to 20 seconds later and tried to enter the room, according to The Journal.

“He tried to push the door twice and was twisting the door knob,” the victim said, according to court documents. “I said, ‘It’s occupied,’ and then we heard his footsteps go away from the door.”

The victim and her girlfriend were “very scared,” the girlfriend told police.

When the couple left the girlfriend’s residence about a half-hour later, Mesko was asleep on a futon downstairs, according to court documents.

“Later on in the morning, we went on the wrestling roster of cornellbigred.com and identified him as Pete Mesko [’13],” the girlfriend said, according to court documents.

The victim contacted the Advocacy Center of Tompkins County, as well as Gannett Health Services. She was sent to the hospital, where she was administered a rape kit.

The victim then reported the attack to the Ithaca Police Department, according to court documents.

“As I mentioned, I have never met this man or spoken to him,” the victim said to police. “In no way did I consent to having sex with this man or invite him into the room. I had been sleeping for three hours and thought I was in the safety of my girlfriend’s house and bedroom.”

Mesko was released on $5,000 bail and will return to court on Friday. IPD said it may consider pressing other charges against Mesko, according to The Journal.

Original Author: Kerry Close