URBANA — A former University of Illinois student described as the “muscle” for his female roommate was sentenced Thursday to three months in jail and 30 months of probation for crimes committed against two of her ex-boyfriends.
The two men told Judge Roger Webber that William Farrell’s intimidation, threats and exploitation of them, supposedly done at the behest of Sundas “Summer” Naqvi, 23, who dated both of them, seriously interfered with their higher education and left them and their families fearful.
Farrell, 24, of Wadsworth, pleaded guilty in November to intimidation in one case, admitting that on May 2, 2019, he threatened to hurt Naqvi’s former boyfriend, a UI student, to get him to delete information from his computer that Naqvi wanted removed from social media.
Another charge of unlawful restraint alleging that Farrell held the man against his will in his own apartment was dismissed.
Farrell also pleaded guilty to criminal damage to property, admitting that on Jan. 16, he destroyed the computer of another of Naqvi’s boyfriends, also a UI student. A charge of residential burglary for breaking into the man’s campus apartment to do so was dismissed.
Three weeks ago, Webber acquitted Naqvi in a bench trial of the May 2019 intimidation and aggravated unlawful restraint of her first boyfriend, saying he found too many inconsistencies in the victim’s version of what happened.
She still faces charges of residential burglary and criminal damage to property for the January break-in to the home of her other former beau.
“I would say it’s very, very clear there’s a lot of lying, criminality, obfuscation and digging deeper and deeper into a hole,” Champaign Detective David Monahan said of the activity of Farrell and Naqvi, both of whom were expelled from the UI for their actions. “It’s a level of depravity that is hard to describe.”
Monahan estimated he spent over 100 hours investigating the pair and has had “dozens of conversations with police across the state” about them.
Their alleged criminal activity apparently started in spring 2019, about a month after Naqvi identified herself on social media as the person who filed a sexual-harassment complaint against former Professor Joe Petry.
Testimony at her bench trial revealed that she wanted the first ex-boyfriend to delete his Reddit account that contained a comment related to her harassment complaint. After that man reported what had happened to him, Naqvi and Farrell were criminally charged.
The victim told the judge that after the charges were filed, Naqvi harmed herself but blamed him, leading to his false arrest and him being detained by police for about 12 hours, during which he was unable to take prescription medication. He also described being further harassed and threatened by Farrell, suffering from ongoing nightmares, and being constantly fearful for his own safety.
The other ex-boyfriend also told the judge that Naqvi and Farrell “used” him in a series of “convoluted plots” to shift guilt away from themselves toward the first ex.
He described being the subject of “bizarre instances of electronic harassment” that included having his social-media accounts hacked and someone purporting to be Naqvi’s former boyfriend allegedly confessing to setting up Naqvi and Farrell for arrest.
He said he was even subjected to an investigation by UI authorities for online threats he was accused of making toward the first ex that he had not. His car tires were slashed three times.
On Jan. 16, his apartment was entered with a key and his computer smashed while he was out helping Naqvi look for her car, which she said had been stolen. Police later learned that Naqvi got his apartment key and met Farrell at a grocery store to give it to him.
The camera on the damaged computer recorded Farrell entering the apartment just before it was smashed. Afterward, the man said Naqvi again blamed the first ex for the break-in and damage.
The man said the computer held all his college work as well as study materials for his CPA exam. The incident, he said, has made him fearful of entering his own home.
“I impulsively check all my major electronics,” he testified. “I worry my life will continue to be derailed by some weird scheme I’ve been drawn into not by my own wishes.”
UI police Detective Ryan Lepp testified that he interviewed Farrell days after the intimidation of the first ex. Farrell admitted he used a pocket knife to scare the man and that he was there as protection for Naqvi.
“He described himself as the muscle in the situation with the UI professor. The message was that Summer was a protected person,” Lepp said.
Questioned by Farrell’s attorney, Brian King, Lepp said Naqvi and Farrell had a close relationship and that “she asked him to help her out.”
Monahan agreed that Naqvi appeared to “have directed a lot of the scheming” but said Farrell was “a ready, willing, eager participant.”
“He never expressed doubt, concern or apprehension about participating,” Monahan said.
Assistant State’s Attorney Brooke Hinman sought a prison sentence of four years for Farrell to punish him for the trauma he inflicted on Naqvi’s ex-boyfriends.
King argued for probation, saying that Farrell “got sucked in by Miss Naqvi.”
He said Farrell had already been punished by his expulsion from the UI with less than a year to go to finish his degree in biochemistry. Farrell now has a job as a union apprentice in the Wadsworth area, King said.
Webber said it’s possible that Farrell “may have serious mental-health and anger issues” and ordered him to be evaluated for both. He denied a request by King that Farrell be allowed to turn himself in later. He is eligible for release in only 45 days.
Naqvi is due back in court Jan. 5.