Mesko, left, in court

Ithaca, N.Y. — The defense attorney of a former Cornell student charged with rape questioned the victim’s response to the reported attack in Tompkins County Court Tuesday morning.

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William J. Dreyer, the attorney for defendant Peter Mesko, said the victim’s reaction following the reported attack shows that she wasn’t actually raped. Dreyer made his closing argument Tuesday morning.

Mesko has been charged with rape, sexual abuse and burglary. But Dreyer said the reported victim’s response to the alleged attack shows it did not occur.

“To involve others, to scream out for help, to call for police … all of those things, those are all absent here,” Dreyer said.

Dreyer in front of Judge Joe Cassidy Tuesday
Mesko, left, in court

Dreyer admitted that the victim woke up around 5 a.m. March 30, 2013, to find a strange man she did not know highly drunk and in bed with her and her roommate.

“A frightening experience, a frightening experience — given the fact they went to bed and they were not part of (an earlier) party and they were not knowledgeable to who this person was,” Dreyer said.

Though acknowledging that Mesko was extremely drunk, Dreyer said the fact that Mesko did not flee after the reported attack is also evidence that a rape did not occur. Dreyer also said no evidence implicated Mesko in the crime.

“No flight — no attempted flight from the house to protect himself,” Dreyer said. “No flight ever.”

The defense attorney also questioned why the victim’s roommate would return back to the room to photograph Mesko if he was a rapist. (After the incident, the roommate and victim escaped to a room upstairs, and then the roommate returned to take the photo of Mesko presented in the trial as evidence, according to both sides.)

Dreyer questioned why the victim didn’t say, “Don’t go down there I’ve just been sexually assaulted.”

Overall, Dreyer said that the victim built up her story over the hours between when the rape allegedly occurred and going to Gannett Health Center later in the day.

“Somewhere in the mix the story got amplified,” Dreyer said.

We’ll update this story with the prosecution’s closing argument


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.