Friends Vow Support for UCLA Student Accused in Rape

An 18-year-old freshman water polo player at UCLA was arrested in connection with a sex assault

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    Hakop Kaplanyan, a UCLA water polo player arrested on suspicion of rape, returned to school Friday to try and get his suspension reversed. He and his lawyer met with the dean of students, to present him with a petition signed by 700 students. No charges have been filed against Kaplanyan after being arrested early April on suspicion of rape. Angie Crouch reports from Westwood for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on April 26, 2013.

    As a decision on whether to lift the suspension of a UCLA water polo player accused in a sexual assault is expected next week, his friends posted a video on YouTube expressing their support for the student athlete.

    Hakop Kaplanyan and his attorney appealed the suspension from the university during a hearing with regents on Friday. No decision is expected until Wednesday, they said.

    Friends Vow Support for Student Accused in Rape

    [LA] Friends Vow Support for Student Accused in Rape
    Friends of UCLA water polo player Hakop Kaplanyan are supporting him in his effort to try to get his suspension from UCLA lifted after an arrest in connection with a sexual assault. He has not been charged with a crime. Angie Crouch reports from the campus for the NBC4 News at Noon on Friday, April 26, 2013.

    "I've been saying since day one I'm innocent and the facts will come out sooner or later," Kaplanyan told NBC4. "I'm kind of falling behind on my training and my studies."

    He maintains that he was dating the woman who filed the report, and that the sex was consensual.

    Sex Assault Puts Focus on UCLA Violence

    [LA] Sex Assault Puts Focus on UCLA Violence
    An 18-year-old freshman water polo player at UCLA was arrested last Tuesday when another student said he raped her. Hakop Kaplanyan denies the allegations, and his attorney says he will be appealing his suspension. Tuesday, student activists were on campus passing out flyers and t-shirts to educate others about sexual violence. Angie Crouch reports from Westwood for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on April 9, 2013.

    His attorney said they believe the suspension from UCLA was "premature."

    UCLA would not comment, only releasing a statement that the student suspension review process is confidential.

    Kaplanyan was arrested on April 2, but has not been charged with any crime, as the campus newspaper, the Daily Bruin, emphasized in the headline of its front-page article Friday.

    The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office is reviewing the case to determine whether to file charges.

    Kaplanyan's friends, meanwhile, posted a video to YouTube entitled, “Hakop Kaplanyan - Innocence 2013.” In the clip, several supporters say Kaplanyan is “dedicated,” “intelligent,” “honest,” “optimistic” and “caring.”

    The friends, in montage, boast about Kaplanyan's record in the pool and said he's "facing a rough obstacle," being accused of "actions that he did not commit."

    "Our friend Hakop is trying to prove his innocence," one student states in the video.

    Kaplanyan and his attorney hope that a petition with 700 signatures attesting to his character will help make their case to lift his suspension.

    Kaplanyan's arrest came the same day that an unidentified female acquaintance filed a report with UCLA police alleging she was sexually assaulted in a student residence hall.

    After the news broke, Kaplanyan's lawyer, Berc Agopoglu, wrote on Facebook that his client would appeal his suspension, saying Kaplanyan is "completely innocent."

    "Mr. Kaplanyan does have his legal rights and at this point he is reserving them for future purposes," his attorney wrote. "We believe this matter will be resolved once the investigation is completed within its due course." 

    The victim has not spoken out.

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