A Woodside man remained on the run last week, more than a year after he failed to appear at a hearing on charges that he participated in the brutal gang rape of a teenage girl.
According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, a bench warrant was issued for Arsalan Gondal, 22, of 71st Street in April 2009.
One of Gondal’s cohorts, Harpreet Singh of Maspeth, last Wednesday was sentenced to 40 years in prison for his role in the 2008 sexual assault. Singh was found guilty early last month of six counts of first-degree rape, five counts of first-degree criminal sexual act, one count of first-degree sexual abuse, three counts of statutory rape, five counts of third-degree rape and one count of second-degree coercion.
Four other defendants — Noman Gondal, 18, Anjam Shahzad, 24, Vikram Singh, 18, and a juvenile offender — have previously pleaded guilty to first-degree rape.
Brown said it was revealed during Singh’s trial that he began communicating with the 16-year-old victim via the social-networking website MySpace.com in early 2008, requesting nude and semi-nude photos of her. She complied, but in June 2008 Singh threatened to post the images on the Internet and send them to his friends if the girl did not have sex with him.
According to trial testimony, on June 24, 2008, Singh raped and sexually abused the victim at the 71st Street home of Shahzad and the Gondals. Four of the other defendants then proceeded to take turns going separately into the room and raping the girl despite her cries for help.
Brown said after the ordeal the victim, who testified at Singh’s trial, arrived home, locked herself in the bathroom and ingested medicine before attempting to tie a cord around her neck. Her mother discovered her and called 911.
“While the scars of what occurred may be with her for the rest of her days, she proved to be resilient — exhibiting grace and dignity as she confronted her attacker at trial and at sentencing,” Brown said of the victim. “She is to be commended for her bravery in ensuring that the guilty did not escape justice.”
Singh’s lawyer, Peter Cooperman, offered a terse “no comment” when asked about the conviction.
According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, widely credited as the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization, one out of six women become the victim of an attempted or completed rape. RAINN statistics also show that about 44 percent of rape victims are under 18, and about two out of three sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows.
RAINN also details the possible physical and psychological effects of sexual assault, including sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, flashbacks, complex post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, rape trauma syndrome and “body memories,” which are described as stress of memories of the abuse taking the form of physical problems that cannot be explained by other, more typical means.