ITHACA, N.Y. (AP) — A Cornell University wrestler accused of raping another student as she slept was arrested after the victim’s companion snapped pictures of the young man lying on the bed, his pants partway down, and then looked his name up on the athletic department website, police say.
Peter Mesko, 22, of Honesdale, Pa., was charged Tuesday with first-degree rape in an attack police said took place off campus early Saturday. The Ivy Leaguer was freed on $5,000 bail.
According to court papers, two women who described themselves as partners told police they were asleep in a bedroom around 4:45 a.m. when one awoke to find a stranger raping her. The women shoved him off and ran from the room.
Investigators said the victim’s partner went back and took two pictures of the man. The two women then dashed from the building and used the pictures to identify Mesko by going online, authorities said.
The Cornell website said Mesko is a senior in the school of agriculture who took third place in a New York State intercollegiate wrestling tournament last year.
Police said they did not know if he had a lawyer. His phone number was unlisted, and a call to his parents’ home on Thursday went unanswered.
Court papers said the two women had gone out for drinks Friday night, and the alleged victim told police she had had two beers, a shot of tequila and a whiskey and Coke. Early Saturday, they went to her partner’s bedroom and fell asleep.
About three hours before the alleged attack, the partner was awakened by the noise of her housemates and their friends playing drinking games outside her room, and she noticed some Cornell wrestlers among them when she went out to ask them to quiet down, authorities said.
The partner told police she recognized the attacker as a wrestler but didn’t know his name.
“The arrest this week of a Cornell student charged with raping a fellow student has shocked our community,” Cornell Dean of Students Kent Hubbell said in a statement posted on the university website.
He said a new website has been set up to provide support for victims of sexual violence as well as those troubled by the reported rape.
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