BLOOMINGDALE : There are new details about an international snowshoe racer charged with sexually assaulting a preteen girl.
These charges shocked people in the Saranac Lake community who had just been cheering for the suspect in a world championship race. Tuesday, a small group of locals came to court to continue to show their support.
Tanveer Hussain, 24, arrived at St. Armand Town court on Tuesday prepared to fight charges that allege he sexually abused a 12-year-old girl. Saranac Lake Village Trustee Richard Shapiro was one of several locals who showed up to support him, reported wcax.com.
"He's obviously innocent. It's bogus. The complainant has made false accusations multiple times in the past, and they've been thrown out, and this will be too. It's just really unfortunate that this poor kid, Tanveer, has to suffer through this," said Shapiro.
Just over one week ago, Hussain was racing in Saranac Lake's World Snowshoe Championships. He and one other racer from India were cheered on, having nearly missed the event after being initially denied visas. Community members rallied behind them and contacted state officials for help.
"One of the misconceptions out here is the initial visa rejection was not due to anything with character or morals or anything like that. He passed all the background checks. The question that they had, was did he have enough ties to his community that he was going to go home as opposed to try and immigrate here," said Shapiro.
But just a few days after the race, Hussain was arrested. Witness statements from court documents allege that Hussain passionately embraced the girl and touched her breast. He is facing a misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of a child and a felony charge of first-degree sexual abuse.
"We did extend an offer to allow him to plea to the class A misdemeanor, and accept responsibility for some of his actions," said Jamie Martineau, Essex County District Attorney's Office.
Hussain's attorney says he could have gone home had he accepted the plea deal, but he rejected it because he maintains his innocence.
"He could walk out and go home. They would return his passport right now and he could go home, but he's decided, elected to stay here and fight these charges," said Brian Barrett, Hussain's defense attorney.
Hussain was released on bail after his initial arrest and is required to stay locally. The case will now be going to a grand jury in Essex County.
Other witness testimony from court documents allege that Hussain was messaging the 12-year-old and expressing his love for her, as well as his wish to spend time with her alone. Shapiro argues that Hussain does not speak English and had to translate every message with the help of Google and a friend.
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