Indian athlete in US is charged with sexually assaulting 12-year-old girl
Tanveer Hussain had been in the news after initially being denied a visa to participate in the World Snowshoe Championships in New York.
Indian athlete Tanveer Hussain, who was earlier in the news over a US visa denial case, has been arrested in Saranac Lake in the United States on charges of sexually abusing a 12-year-old girl, Adirondack Daily Enterprise reported on Thursday. His colleague Abid Khan told the daily that Hussain said he was innocent.
Hussain was in the country to participate in the 2017 World Snowshoe Championships in New York held on February 24 and 25. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Sunday. Hussain was scheduled to leave the country on Friday, the daily reported.
A statement released by the local police said Hussain was charged with “engaging in a passionate kiss” with a 12-year-old girl and touching her inappropriately, North Country Public Radio reported. “There was no accusation of force. The charges are a result of the age differences of the individuals. There were no other allegations made against Hussain,” the statement said.
Police Seargent Casey Reardon told the daily that the girl and her parents had filed a case against the athlete, who was apprehended while walking down Bloomingdale Avenue. “He came with us willingly and has been cooperative since,” Reardon told the daily. Hussain’s lawyer said “Not only is he innocent, he is presumed innocent by law. That’s how he should be seen in the community and by anyone paying attention in this case.”
Hussain’s colleague Khan said the interaction between the girl and the athlete did not last for more than 30 seconds. “Hussain was not aware that she was a minor in first place,” Khan said. “We told him later that she is a minor. He does not understand English.”
Reardon, however, said, “There were other witnesses. Social media was involved. There is evidence that supports the charges.”
Khan said both he and Hussain were embarrassed by the situation they were in, the daily reported. Local enterprises had reportedly welcomed the Kashmiri athletes with free lodging and some free meals, while the area’s mayor Clyde Rabideau had started a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for their travel expenses.
The athletes were granted visas after they had claimed that the US embassy officials had turned down their applications saying they were unable to give them a visa “because of their current policy”. A spokesperson for the US Embassy in Delhi had then said that Indian citizens were not affected by the US president’s executive order, which restricts entry of people from seven Muslim-majority countries. A stay order has been imposed on the new programme.