Northwestern student pleads not guilty to charges of sexual assault; University ordered to preserve surveillance footage


Daily file photo by Cameron Cook

The Cook County Circuit Court. A former Northwestern student pleaded not guilty to charges of sexual assault Thursday.

A former Northwestern student pleaded not guilty to charges of aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse Thursday at Cook County’s Second Municipal District courthouse.

The move sets up a legal battle for Scott Thomas, who was arrested March 19 by University Police after students leaving the library early on March 16 saw him allegedly holding the victim against a glass door and assaulting her. Prosecutors say UP have video surveillance footage of the incident as well.

Cook County Judge Lauren Edidin signed an order for Northwestern to preserve the footage at the request of Shelby Prusak, Thomas’s attorney. The order stipulated the University preserve footage from between 10 p.m. March 15 and 4 a.m. March 16, provided it hadn’t already been deleted.

“I don’t know if they kept it,” Edidin said.

Pamela Stratigakis, who represents the alleged victim, asked for a protective order on the footage to stop it from ever being made public, due to its graphic nature.

Edidin also agreed for STI and HIV testing to be arranged for Thomas at Stratigakis’ request. Stratigakis requested this occur in Cook County, and Prusak said Thomas would agree to the testing.

Thomas is still under bail conditions that prohibit him from being on campus or making contact with any Northwestern student, and is allowed to live at home with his family in New Jersey, provided he return for each court appointment.

This is a change from the conditions of his original bail, which stipulated he remain within the court’s jurisdiction under GPS tracking and refrain from contact with any Northwestern student. Last month Judge Paul Pavlus decided there was “no better way” than Thomas’s return to New Jersey to ensure he keep away from campus. He also ruled Thomas’ GPS would be removed.

A charge of aggravated criminal sexual assault is considered a Class X felony in Illinois. If Thomas were found guilty, his sentence could be between six and 30 years in prison, with possible extensions and fines. Class X felonies require the offender be sentenced to prison time and not probation.

Thomas is scheduled to appear again in court on June 20.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @cam_e_cook

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @bonijos_iahfant