COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — A judge ruled Thursday that prosecutors did not present enough evidence to pursue criminal charges against a college student accused of raping a classmate while acting out "50 Shades of Grey."
In a preliminary hearing, Cook County Judge Peggy Chiampas said there wasn't enough probable cause to continue the case against Mohammad Hossain, a 19-year-old biology student at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Hossain was charged last month with aggravated criminal sexual assault after a 19-year-old classmate said Hossain beat, bound, gagged and raped her inside his UIC dorm room in the 900 block of West Harrison Street about 5:30 p.m. on Feb. 21.
Hossain's attorney argued the encounter was consensual, and Chiampas on Thursday said there wasn't enough evidence to prove otherwise since prosecutors presented only one witness and two photographs of bruising during Thursday's hearing.
"This doesn't mean this is over," Chiampas told Hossain, noting that prosecutors could still seek an indictment, in which a grand jury is asked to determine whether there's enough evidence to pursue charges.
But Hossain was free to go, and a previous condition of his bond forbidding him from going to UIC was lifted.
"It was two college students that were having a sexual encounter," Hossain's attorney, Joshua Kutnick, said later. "That's all that it was."
In her testimony at Thursday's preliminary hearing, the woman, a 19-year-old freshman chemistry student at UIC, said she met Hossain in a class last fall.
They had dinner that night and eventually "became friends with benefits," she said, adding that they had consensual sex four or five times.
The day of the incident, the woman said she went to see "Fifty Shades of Grey" alone, then met Hossain at the student center and discussed the movie. She told him she liked the film but got scared toward the end because she thought the main character had mental issues.
They then went back to Hossain's room, where "he asked me if I wanted to do something dangerous," she testified. "I said it depends on what it is. He said, 'I won't tell you.'" Hossain's roommate was present but left.
The woman stripped down to her underwear before Hossain stuck a knit cap over her face and tied her hands above her head, binding her to the bottom of a lofted bed, she said. Hossain tied a belt around her feet and covered her mouth with a necktie.
He asked whether the tie was too tight, the woman said, and loosened it when she nodded that it was.
Hossain allegedly undressed her and hit her with a belt twice on the side of her body.
"It wasn't that hard so I didn't say anything," she said.
That's when things got out of hand, the woman said. She paused during her testimony, and the judge asked her if she wanted to stop. She continued.
"He said, 'I want to see you resist,'" she told the court. He hit her a third time and it hurt, she testified. She told him to stop several times, but she said it was muffled because of the tie in her mouth. He allegedly hit her about 20 times: "It was harder each time," she said.
She swung her arms in an attempt to get loose, but Hossain got an extra belt and tied her up tighter, she testified.
"He said, 'I want to see how much you can take,'" the woman told the court. "He said, 'I want to see you cry.'"
The woman said she told Hossain "stop," "no" and "you're hurting me" multiple times during the encounter.
He then took off the cap she was wearing, and she saw he was naked. He unbound her from the bed but gripped her hands behind her back and pushed her on to his bed, she said.
He allegedly raped her and slapped her three or four times, she testified: "I was shaking my head from side to side, crying and hoping it would be over soon."
After the alleged rape, Hossain began slapping the woman with a belt, she said. She grabbed the belt at one point, and recalled Hossain laughing and asking, 'What are you going to do?'"
Hossain walked away from the bed, and the woman began to untie her feet and get dressed, she said. Shortly after, Hossain's roommate returned and Hossain ran to block the door since he was still naked. The woman left, walking past both men.
She texted a friend, who came to her dorm room 30 to 60 minutes later and called police. The woman said her body was red from her chest to her knees. She went to the hospital, where a rape kit was taken.
When Kutnick questioned the woman Thursday, she said she initially consented to the encounter but asked Hossain to stop as it progressed.
Kutnick said the two were acting out "50 Shades of Grey," and the victim countered: "I didn't see it that way."
Kutnick asked the woman if she scratched and elbowed Hossain or screamed during the encounter. She said she didn't.
In his closing remarks, Kutnick said that "every step of the way, the young lady consented."
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