After months of hearings, Osai Egharevba ’21 pled guilty to one charge of unlawful imprisonment in a hearing on Friday morning in an online Ithaca City Court hearing.
Egharevba will complete one year of interim probation, and in the meantime, sentencing is adjourned. The other three charges that he faced — including one count of third degree sex abuse — have been dropped. Three orders of protection against Egharevba were also renewed.
In a previous Nov. 20 hearing, Ithaca City Court Judge Seth Peacock explained the context of the charges, which included multiple incidents of alleged physical and verbal harassment from January 2020 to November 2020, including touching someone’s breast without permission. After being arrested on Nov. 17, Egharevba was released with the promise to appear in court later. In a previous hearing on Dec. 10, Egharevba pled not guilty to all charges.
Egharevba was advised of his rights that he would give up by taking the plea deal, including the right to have a trial by jury, the right to challenge the prosecution’s evidence, the right to present evidence in his own defense and the right to remain silent. In addition, the judge informed him that this plea deal was the same as being convicted in a trial.
After Egharevba waived these rights, Judge Peacock entered Egharevba’s guilty plea into the record.
“Do you admit that on Oct. 23, 2020, at about 12 p.m., at University Avenue in the City of Ithaca in Tompkins County, that you stood in front of [name redacted] and blocked her from proceeding, and grabbing her right hand and not letting her go, and that caused her to become alarmed and scared? Do you admit that?” Peacock asked. Egharevba pled guilty.
One of the women who pressed charges in this case, who asked to remain anonymous out of concern for her privacy, said she was disappointed that many of the charges were dropped.
“The fact that only one of them was addressed and then the rest got dropped — he pleaded guilty to one and then the rest were kind of just ignored — is not really the answer I wanted,” the woman told The Sun.
She hoped ultimately that Egharevba would change his behavior in the future and not reoffend.
“I want him to stop hurting other people on accident or on purpose because it’s not OK,” she said.
While she was not one of the people who pressed charges in this case, Leina Peterson ’22, who had filed a Title IX complaint against Egharevba last year, wanted to be a witness if the case went to trial. In emails to an instructor from last year that Peterson provided to The Sun, Peterson alleged that Egharevba had harassed her on multiple occasions.
Peterson had hoped that the case would proceed to a trial so that Egharevba could hear the impact of his actions directly from the survivors.
“I honestly hoped that he would get to hear the victims speaking about the kind of harm that he’s caused,” Peterson told The Sun. “I feel like anyone, upon hearing the type of damage that they caused, they would feel some sort of guilt, some sort of remorse. They’d want to change at least to some extent.”
Cornell University, the University Title IX Office and the Cornell University Police Department declined to comment, stating that they have no information to share at this time. Egharevba, his defense attorney Patrick Cummings and Tompkins County assistant district attorney Heidi Paulino did not respond to a request for comment by the time of publication.
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.