Athlete charged with sex assault

Attila Cosby, a transfer student slated to join the GW basketball team early next year, was arrested and charged after a 46-year-old woman made allegations that he sexually assaulted her in his Guthridge Hall room early May 15.

Cosby, who transferred from the University of New Mexico earlier this year, was charged with first-degree sexual abuse after turning himself into Metropolitan Police May 16. He has since been released on his own recognizance, according to the Washington Post.

GW Athletic Director Jack Kvancz released a statement May 17, saying Cosby is not a member of the basketball team at the present time. Cosby’s status will be determined by a resolution of issues currently pending, according to the statement. The 6’9 center/forward was scheduled to start playing in January 2001.

According to the affidavit in support of an arrest warrant obtained by The Hatchet, the complainant alleged she met Cosby at New Jersey and P streets in northwest D.C. She agreed to go to his Guthridge Hall room to test some drugs for him, according to the affidavit.

A police search of Cosby’s residence hall room found no drugs, said Robert Chernak, vice president of Student Academic and Support Services.

The complainant said Cosby forced her at gunpoint to perform oral sodomy on him once they arrived in the room, according to the affidavit. At that point, she said he sexually assaulted her by inserting a wooden broom handle into (her) vagina, according to the affidavit.

The police search found no gun, but police did obtain objects described in the complainant’s testimony, Chernak said.

According to The Washington Post, MPD seized objects that supported the woman’s story. However, police would not identify the objects.

According to the police affidavit, cameras in Guthridge Hall recorded Cosby entering the building through the front lobby. The cameras also showed Cosby exiting the building through the basement, with a sweater covering the complainant’s head and face, according to the affidavit.

Police obtained a photo of Cosby’s GWorld card and presented it as part of a line up of eight color photos, according to the affidavit. She identified the photo of Cosby by saying it looks like a darker version of this guy, number six, according to the affidavit.

The Buckley Amendment prohibits University administrators from disclosing the status of Cosby’s case, however Chernak outlined the procedure usually followed in the case of a serious allegation.

The student is placed on interim suspension if the University feels the charges are serious enough that the student could be a threat to the community, even before the charges are proven, Chernak said. In that event, a student would be banned from any residence halls and barred from campus.

Chernak said the decision to put a student on interim suspension is made by the Dean of Students Linda Donnels and Vice President of Academic Affairs Donald Lehman, and can be made within 24 hours of the report being filed. The student has three days to respond to the allegations and a hearing is normally concluded within 21 days.

If a complaint gives the University reason to believe a student may be a threat to the community, a student is placed on suspension before the three-day window allotted for a student’s response, Chernak said.

However, Chernak said the high-profile nature of the case may prompt the University to disclose more information than usual. I don’t think it’s the kind of case where we can maintain comfortable silence, he said.

Guthridge Hall Community Facilitator Daniel Smith said that since the incident he has received few instructions from the University.

Really the only thing (the University said) has been to keep it quiet, to not discuss the details and respect his privacy, Smith said.

Residents of the neighborhood surrounding New Jersey and P streets, where Cosby allegedly met the complainant, described it as a neighborhood overrun by prostitution and drug dealing.

It’s a red light district with prostitutes who stand at the corner, said Russell Bullock, who lives in the neighborhood.

Gary Smith, 53, a business owner of Jean and Lizzie’s Thrift Shop and Antiques, said that he rarely stays in the neighborhood past 6 p.m. He said a lot of crackheads and prostitutes frequent the neighborhood.

However Ollie Williams, 42, indicated the label prostitute is not entirely accurate.

They try and sell their bodies for crack, said Williams, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1987. They call themselves `tricks.’

Cosby has had disciplinary problems in the past.

The Washington Post reported that Cosby was expelled from DeMatha High School in Hyattsville, Md. for disciplinary reasons.

At the University of Pittsburgh, in his sophomore season, Cosby was suspended for the remainder of the basketball season after he allegedly punched assistant coach Oliver Antigua during practice.

Kvancz said the department thoroughly checks the background of all players before offering them a position at GW.

We were aware of each incident and we check to see what happened, Kvancz said. We do that with everybody.

Smith said Cosby was one of the nicer basketball players, and had no erratic behavior.

However, Smith did recall witnessing Cosby having a relatively heated exchange halfway through the semester with his girlfriend in the hall.

It looked like a lover’s quarrel, said Smith, who said that Cosby told him everything was under control.

Smith said as of May 17, Cosby’s belongings had not been cleared out of his residence hall room.

They asked (the CFs) to clean out his room, but we declined, Smith said.

Chernak said he believes one story will end up crumbling once all the forensic evidence of the seized objects is analyzed.

A preliminary hearing into the matter will be held in June, said Sandy Holland, executive director of University Relations.

Holland said in similar situations, the University also conducts its own investigation and the outcome has a very wide range of potential penalties and exonerations.

Kvancz reiterated the fact that the only story known at present is the story of the complainant.

That’s all I think everybody knows except for the two people that were involved, he said.

Attempts to reach Cosby for comment were unsuccessful.

-Rich Murphy and Russ Rizzo contributed to this report.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.