Ithaca, N.Y. – The former Cornell University wrestler arrested on rape charges was too drunk the night of the crime to be found guilty, his lawyers have argued in publicly filed court documents.
Peter J. Mesko, then 22, was charged with rape in the first degree, burglary in the second degree and sexual abuse in the first degree on April 2, 2013, after he was arrested by the Ithaca Police Department and the Cornell University Police Department.
In court documents submitted ahead of an upcoming trial, Mesko’s lawyers say that they plan to provide evidence of their client’s “diminished mental capacity” the night of the crime.
Mesko’s intoxication, the lawyers argue, means that he was unable to form the requisite intent required for the charges pressed against him.
“Psychiatric and lay evidence is to be presented in relationship to defendant’s mental disorder by intoxication, to show the lack of specific intent to commit the crimes alleged,” court papers submitted by Mesko’s lawyers say.
“The defendant had diminished mental capacity for perpetration of those offenses due to his intoxication.”
On March 30, 2013, the victim reported being raped in her sleep by Mesko while staying in her girlfriend’s home, according to the Cornell Daily Sun. The victim’s girlfriend entered the room and found Mesko “latched tightly onto” the victim, The Sun reported.
The indictment filed in county court accuses Mesko of knowingly entering the house and having sex with the victim without her consent and while she was physically helpless. The victim and her girlfriend took a photo of Mesko and identified him through Cornell’s online wrestling team roster, The Sun reported.
Mesko has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He hasn’t spoken publicly about the case.
Tompkins County District Attorney Gwen Wilkinson declined to be interviewed about the argument from Mesko’s lawyers.
The trial date has not yet been set.
Mesko was released after paying his $5,000 in bail around April 2, 2013. In arguing that Mesko should remain released, his attorney Lauren Owens stated in court documents that Mesko was a good student, having received a 3.75 GPA in Fall 2012 from Cornell, and had no previous criminal record.
“He is no threat to the community and his strong ties to his family shows that he poses no risk of flight,” Owens said.
“Mr. Mesko is a well-respected young man, with no known problems in his habits or mental condition.”