Court acquits GW student of assault

A sophomore charged with assault was acquitted in Superior Court Friday, but convicted of contempt of court for violating a court order not to meet with the alleged victim.

The Metropolitan Police Department arrested Ryan Skolnick in October 2007 after a fight outside Thurston Hall. The altercation was broken up by police and he was charged with misdemeanor assault for punching freshman Bryan Kim in the face.

In a three-day trial that included testimony from Skolnick’s friends, mother and former tennis coach, the judge sentenced Skolnick to a year of probation and 120 hours of community service. The court acquitted the sophomore of his assault charge because they could not determine whether or not Skolnick acted in self-defense.

Bryan Kim and Skolnick both refused to comment after the trial.

Prosecutors charged Skolnick with contempt of court this January after they claimed he offered Kim $2,000 plus medical expenses to change his story in court. Skolnick denied the allegations at the time, noting that he was trying to avoid a civil suit. The court convicted him of the contempt charge Friday because he met with Kim after promising not to.

Kim said in testimony that Skolnick offered him money to change his testimony to state that he threw the first punch. The sophomore said Friday that he had offered money to Kim, but that it had only been after the freshman asked him to cover his medical bills. Kim needed reconstructive surgery after the fight.

“This was a stupid, college, nutty thing at three o’clock in the morning,” Judge Bruce Beaudin said during his final remarks. “I believe firmly that people make some stupid mistakes, and unfortunately in this case some people got really hurt because of this stupid mistake.”

The final day of the trial consisted of repeated viewings of surveillance footage of the fight and testimony from Skolnick and other students who witnessed the event.

In his closing argument, Skolnick’s attorney Bernard Grimm portrayed his client as a compassionate person who was trying to help a friend involved in the fight. On Wednesday, Grimm said the witnesses’ testimony was tainted because of his client’s role in exposing hazing in the underground fraternity APES.

U.S. Attorney Scott Bradford described Skolnick as someone who “wanted to have some fun . he wanted to throw a punch in a college fight.”

Addressing the half a dozen students in the courtroom and the University community at large, Beaudin asked that Skolnick not be punished or mistreated by the student body.

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