Editor’s Note: This article describes instances of sexual harassment. The female students interviewed for this article have been given pseudonyms to protect their identities.
After receiving multiple complaints, Cornell University Police arrested a student for third degree sex abuse, unlawful imprisonment and two counts of harassment on Nov. 17. The student was Osai Egharevba ’21, who is 21; he was arraigned at the Ithaca City Court on Nov. 20.
The charges stemmed from four specific instances that spanned from January to November. In the arraignment hearing, Ithaca City Court Judge Seth Peacock outlined the context of the four charges. Peacock relayed the sex abuse charge, a misdemeanor, which said Egharevba allegedly placed his left arm around an individual and touched her breast without permission on Jan. 28. A charge of unlawful imprisonment claimed that, on Oct. 23, he blocked a person walking on the sidewalk of University Avenue and tightly held her hand, causing “her to be alarmed.”
On the same day, Egharevba allegedly blocked another person on University Avenue and also tightly held her hand, causing her to feel alarmed. The incident counted for one of two harassment charges. For the second harassment charge, Peacock said, on Nov. 11 at noon, Egharevba harassed a person while on a TCAT by Boldt Hall and touched her ears on the bus. Peacock added the person felt “alarmed and annoyed.”
At the arraignment, Egharevba said he was seeking a public defender.
When CUPD first arrested Egharevba on the morning of Nov. 17, he was released from custody with the promise to appear in court later that week. CUPD said in a press release that it received many complaints against Egharevba, with some alleging harassment and unwanted touching taking place on campus.
Multiple female students described experiences of harassment by Egharevba to The Sun. Julia, the subject of a Reddit post about then-unnamed Egharevba that had gone viral, said she first filed a report on Nov. 12 with CUPD after Egharevba harassed her on a TCAT a day earlier. She described how she was sitting quietly in the TCAT with her headphones in until Egharevba approached her at the Boldt Hall stop.
Once Egharevba was on the bus, he sat behind the student, and she said he put his hand on her shoulder. Then, according to Julia, Egharevba acted as if he already knew her and asked for her phone number, even though she had never met Egharevba before.
Julia said she questioned the interaction, but gave Egharevba the benefit of the doubt — she felt unsure whether she actually knew Egharevba from a class or if she couldn’t recognize him because he was wearing a mask. Because of this uncertainty, Julia gave Egharevba her phone number, but the interaction became even more uncomfortable.
“I looked at [my phone], and I was like, ‘This isn’t who I thought it was,’” she said. “That’s when red flags started going off.”
Soon after, Egharevba began touching Julia’s ears and caressing her face. While Julia was on the bus, she said Egharevba repeatedly asked her to hang out. Once she got off the bus at Goldwin Smith, Julia said Egharevba followed her out and hugged her.
The incident led Julia to tell her roommate, who then wrote a Reddit post about Julia’s experience. The post received over a hundred responses, many from female students who outlined instances of Egharevba harassing them. Through the Reddit post and Facebook, Julia said she found many other students to join her in her complaints to CUPD.
Margaret, a sophomore living on West Campus this year, said Egharevba approached her in a lounge at William Keeton House on Oct. 28. She said Egharevba was talking about his penis, recounting a story of how one of his friends was hit in the crotch area while playing paintball. Egharevba allegedly said this friend was unable to sexually please people, but told Margaret he “could still sexually please a woman.”
The sophomore added that throughout the whole conversation, Egharevba never made eye contact; he was staring directly at her chest and complimented her necklace. Margaret said she filed a Title IX report on the incident after the Reddit post went viral.
The Sun spoke to two other women who described uncomfortable interactions with Egharevba in public spaces in which he described his sexual activity in detail.
Egharevba declined a request for comment on the charges or the accusations. The Title IX office and CUPD Chief David Honan also declined to comment.
On campus, Egharevba previously served as a Student Assembly College of Engineering representative and was proponent of Cornell Students for Student Assembly reform, a group formed over the summer after the S.A. used funds from the student activities fee to donate $10,000 to Cornell Students for Black Lives. Egharevba ran for reelection as S.A. engineering representative, but lost. He was most recently a teaching assistant for “Computer Organization and Programming” and previously served as a teaching assistant for the physics department, according to his LinkedIn.
Egharevba is scheduled to appear at the Ithaca City Court Dec. 9.
Members of the Cornell community may consult with the Victim Advocate by calling 607-255-1212, and with Cornell Health by calling 607-255-5155. Employees may call the Faculty Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) at 607-255-2673. An Ithaca-based Crisisline is available at 607-272-1616. The Tompkins County-based Advocacy Center is available at 607-277-5000. For additional resources, visit health.cornell.edu/services/victim-advocacy.