Days after two Kashmiri snowshoe racers arrived to a warm welcome in Saranac Lake, one of them, 24-year-old Tanveer Hussain, was arrested on the charge of sexually abusing a minor in a village in the state of New York.
Charles Potthast Jr, Chief of Police, Saranac Lake, said Hussain was arrested and remanded in jail. “The charges stem from Hussain engaging in a passionate kiss with the 12-year-old victim,” Saranac Lake police department said in a statement. Police said he also touched her inappropriately. “There was no accusation of force. The charges are a result of the age difference of the individuals,” police said.
Confirming Hussain’s arrest, his lawyer Brian Barrett told The Indian Express over phone on Thursday that Hussain faces charges of sexual abuse of the first degree and endangering the welfare of a child under the penal law of the state of New York. Hussain was arrested after the girl and her parents lodged a complaint with police.
Watch| Kashmiri Snowshoe Racer Arrested In US For Allegedly Sexually Abusing Minor
Hussain’s arrest comes days after the Adirondack Daily Enterprise reported a ‘rock star’ welcome in Saranac Lake for the two Kashmiri snowshoe racers on February 25. They were issued visas to the United States to attend the World Snowshoe Championships course at Dewey Mountain Recreation Center, after being denied visas earlier.
Barrett, who was appointed by a town court to represent Hussain, has filed a not-guilty plea on Hussain’s behalf. He said, “Under our law, he (Hussain) is presumed to be innocent and nobody should draw any other inference.”
Sexual abuse of the first degree charge attracts upto seven years in prison while endangering the welfare of a child, a low-level charge, attracts up to a year in jail, Barrett said.
The court has remanded Hussain to the Essex County Jail in Lewis in lieu of $5,000 cash bail or $10,000 bond. Barrett said he will engage an interpreter and have his next meeting with Hussain in a day or two. “We will have a preliminary hearing on Monday,” he said.
“There could be issues with his visa. I am not sure how long it is valid. Even if the court releases him, he may be held in a holding facility that is not a jail,” Barrett said, adding he had interacted with Abid Khan who had accompanied Hussain to Saranac Lake.
In Srinagar, family members of Hussain were shocked on learning of his arrest. “We came to know about it just now. We are in a state of shock. But thankfully, legal aid has been provided to him,” Younis Ali, his younger brother, said.
Jammu and Kashmir Sports Council secretary Waheed ur Rehman Para told The Indian Express that he came to know of the arrest in the evening. ‘’I am trying to find out what has actually happened there. We will provide him legal help only after confirming details.’’ Para said that the two sportsmen had gone in private capacity and the sports council was not involved in the event.