A sophomore arrested for assault was also charged with contempt of court last week, after he allegedly tried bribing another student to provide false testimony.
Ryan Skolnick, 20, was arrested for simple assault Oct. 5 after allegedly punching another student in a fight outside Thurston Hall, according to police documents. The alleged victim, freshman Bryan Kim, was cut on his bottom lip and had a swollen right eye. The court ordered Skolnick to stay away from Kim, pending a trial.
The U.S. Attorney’s office said that several weeks later, Skolnick contacted Kim repeatedly and offered him $2,000 plus medical expenses to provide a false statement to police. The misdemeanor contempt charge was issued Jan. 10, and read publicly at a status hearing last Monday.
In an interview, Kim said Skolnick contacted him several times and said he would pay him to lie in court.
“He specifically asked me to come to trial as a witness to him, saying that I hit him first and he hit me back, and that it was a big misunderstanding,” Kim said. “He said, ‘My family will offer you whatever is reasonable, and we think $2,000 is reasonable.'”
Kim told his story to the prosecutor, prompting the prosecutor to amend the case to include contempt of court.
In an interview, Skolnick said he only offered Kim money to pay for medical damages and to avoid a possible civil suit. He said Kim initiated contact and asked him for the money.
“This is his way of getting back at me and it’s a lie, and we have proof that it’s a lie,” Skolnick said. He added that he never attempted to sway the case, but wanted to pay for Kim’s medical bills if insurance did not cover it.
“Bryan contacted me and kept saying to me ‘I had surgery on my nose, I want money for my medical expenses,'” Skolnick said.
Channing Phillips, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office, said that although he cannot comment on specific cases, his office performs an investigation before filing any charges in court. He added that contempt charges are most often for people who violate stay-away or drug use orders.
“It’s a little unusual for money to be offered to influence people’s testimony,” said. “At least we don’t hear about it.”
The facts behind the fight outside Thurston are being disputed by Skolnick, who claims that he only entered the fight to protect his friend. He said Kim punched him first, and that he only threw one punch back.
Skonick is set to appear before Judge Zinora Mitchell-Rankin, a 1979 GW Law School alumnus, April 2. He said he is confident the facts will emerge if Kim tells the truth.
“As long as his testimony is the truth, I don’t see it being a problem,” Skolnick said. “The truth will come out, other people know the truth and it will get out eventually.”