UI doctoral student charged in two alleged sex assaults

UI doctoral student charged in two alleged sex assaults

URBANA — A University of Illinois doctoral student has been charged in connection with two alleged sex assaults that occurred on campus in the last few weeks.

First Assistant State's Attorney Steve Ziegler on Thursday charged Prakhar Ojha, 25, who listed an address in the 1000 block of West Green Street, Urbana, in two cases.

Ojha is charged with criminal sexual assault and criminal sexual abuse in one case for acts that allegedly occurred on Aug. 26 with one woman in her dormitory room in Urbana and in a second case with criminal sexual abuse for acts that allegedly occurred Sept. 16 with another woman in Ojha's dormitory room.

Ziegler said both women were UI students and acquaintances of his.

In the Aug. 26 case, which involves the more serious charges, Ziegler said the woman did not consent to any kind of sex act with Ojha.

"They go out with other people. They wind up in her room. There's drinking involved and the next thing she knows, she's waking with him" engaging in sex acts to which she did not consent, Ziegler said.

In the incident from late Saturday night, Ziegler said that woman fell asleep in Ojha's room and also woke to him allegedly fondling her.

The women first reported the incidents to a campus office and then to UI police on Monday.

Ojha was interviewed by UI police Wednesday. Ziegler said he told police that because of his alcohol consumption, his inhibitions were lowered.

In both cases, the charges allege the women were unable to give knowing consent.

Ojha was booked into the county jail early Thursday.

The more serious of the charges against him — criminal sexual assault — are Class 1 felonies carrying a maximum penalty of between four and 15 years in prison. The other abuse counts are Class 4 felonies, carrying the potential for probation or one to three years in prison.

Ziegler said he was unaware of any prior convictions for Ojha.

According to his LinkedIn page, Ojha is pursuing his Ph.D. in computer science.

Judge Brett Olmstead set bond in the two cases at $80,000 total and told Ojha to have no contact with the women or where they live. He was given a court date of Nov. 7.

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Bystander wrote on September 21, 2017 at 3:09 pm
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U of I student special: probation.