First Degree Sexual Abuse Conviction Reversed -- People v. Mohamed Osman

Donna Aldea, head of Appellate and Post-Conviction Litigation at Barket Epstein Kearon Aldea and LoTurco, LLP, obtained a reversal of a Cornell University student’s conviction of Sexual Abuse in the First Degree and Attempted Rape in the First Degree in a unanimous and detailed 10-page decision from the Appellate Division, Third Department,. See People v. Osman, __ N.Y.S.3d __, 2024 WL 2853531, 2024 N.Y. Slip Op. 03106 (3d Dept. June 6, 2024).

Osman was a Cornell University undergraduate student who was charged with sexually assaulting another student through forcible compulsion. The complainant’s testimony was graphic, but her actions before and after the incident – including giggling on Osman’s lap while protesting that she had a boyfriend, hugging and kissing him goodbye after the alleged assault, and then inviting him back to her apartment later that day in a series of text messages that she purposely deleted from the copies she showed her friends and subsequently provided to law enforcement – seemed inconsistent with a forcible sexual assault. The Appellate Division held that the trial court committed reversible error in permitting the prosecution to elicit Osman’s statement to the complainant, just before the alleged assault, that he had previously served time in prison. While the District Attorney argued that this statement was inextricably interwoven with the crime itself, and constituted proof of intent or a threat to secure the complainant’s compliance, the Appellate Division rejected these arguments as insufficient in probative value to overcome the prejudice to the defendant. Additionally, the Court held that while the evidence against Osman was legally sufficient to support the conviction, it was not overwhelming; accordingly, in this case based entirely on credibility, the Court concluded, the error in admitting this evidence was not harmless.

The decision is attached. The oral argument it available here (case number 113693): AD3 Archives (