Girl, witnesses describe snowshoer’s affections in official statements

Tanveer Hussain speaks to television news reporters Tuesday afternoon outside the St. Armand Town Hall in Bloomingdale, where he declined a plea bargain. (Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)

SARANAC LAKE — The 12-year-old girl at the center of the sexual abuse case against Indian snowshoer Tanveer Hussain told police he kissed her twice with an open mouth and groped one of her breasts.

In a separate statement to police, the girl’s mother says she saw Facebook messages from Hussain on her daughter’s phone that indicated the two had “made out” and that Hussain had touched her breasts.

Hussain, 24, of Kashmir, India, has denied those allegations. He was arrested on March 1, four days after he competed in the World Snowshoe Championships at Dewey Mountain Recreation Center. Hussain was charged with first-degree sexual abuse, a felony, and endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor.

In support of the charges, village police filed three witness statements with St. Armand town court. Judge Sheridan Swinyer provided the Enterprise with partially redacted versions of the statements on Wednesday.

The alleged victim, in her statement, said she and a friend took pictures with Hussain and his manager Abid Khan at the finish line of the Feb. 25 races. She said Hussain and Khan then asked for her name so they could send her a friend request on Facebook. Later, she said, as she was listening to music and dancing during the Junior World Championship race, she noticed Hussain was videotaping her with a camcorder.

“I felt a little weird, so I asked him why he was recording me,” her statement reads. “He said because ‘he wanted to remember it’ and ‘show the people back home how Americans live.'”

On Feb. 26, the day after the races, the girl says Hussain sent her a Facebook message that contained a picture of the business card for where he and Khan were staying, the Porcupine Inn on Park Avenue. The following day, she told police she received another message from Hussain saying he was at the Porcupine with two of her classmates and she should meet him there.

When she arrived, the girl told police that Hussain and a friend of hers were playing pool. She said she asked where Khan was because she didn’t want to see him.

“Abid was upset at me because Tanveer and I were talking,” the girl’s statement reads. “Abid had told Tanveer that I was too young for him and he could get in trouble for dating me, and Tanveer said he didn’t care. Abid had also told Tanveer that I was ‘playing’ both of them.”

When her friend left the room, the girl says she walked over and gave Hussain a hug. When she leaned away from him after the hug, she claims Hussain pulled her back in by her waist and kissed her with an open mouth. The two “sprang apart” when her friend came back in the room, the girl told police.

Later, when she turned to go, the girl told police that Hussain “stepped in front of me, pulled me back in to him and kissed me with an open mouth again.

“As he was kissing me, Tanveer reached up with his right hand and began to rub my left breast over the outside of my shirt,” the girl said. “It lasted for a few seconds, and we heard (here the transcript is redacted) coming back, so we sprang apart again, and I said goodbye to (redacted) and Tanveer.”

Another 12-year-old, whose name was also redacted, gave a statement to police saying he or she was at the Porcupine playing pool that night with Khan when the alleged victim showed up. Hussain then came in and played pool with the group.

At some point, this other 12-year-old left the room to get a drink of water. When he or she came back, “I saw (redacted) facing Tanveer with her hands on his waist and his hands were on her shoulders,” the statement reads. “Their heads were tilted, and they were kissing. Pretty much boyfriend/girlfriend kissing. When I walked in the room, I saw (redacted) push him away. She may have been embarrassed or knew it was wrong.”

This 12-year-old said the alleged victim then asked him or her not to say anything to anyone about what had happened.

The mother of the alleged victim gave police a statement, too, saying her daughter was staying at her grandmother’s house the weekend of the snowshoe races. On Sunday, Feb. 26, she said her daughter wouldn’t let her have her phone to play a game, so she got suspicious and started asking a lot of questions.

Two days later, after her daughter went to bed, the mother said she unlocked her daughter’s phone while she was sleeping and came across a series of messages, presumably from Hussain, although his name doesn’t appear in her statement. In the messages, he said things like “I love you” and that he wanted to take her daughter back to where he lives, the mother’s statement reads.

“He said he wanted to be with her forever and that she is his princess and they will be together forever,” she said. “There was a message where he asked her if she wanted to touch him and that he stated that they did touch. They both said that they made out and he did feel her breasts.”

Village Trustee Rich Shapiro, who bailed Hussain out of jail and is letting him live in his home, said he’s seen the Facebook messages between the girl and Hussain. He wasn’t willing to provide them to the Enterprise because the case is still pending, but he claims Hussain didn’t write many of them.

“He texted them to a friend in India, who then texted back to him what the response should be,” Shapiro said. “It’s not even his words in there.”

Shapiro also claims Hussain made no admission in the messages that he touched the girl innapropriately.

After a court appearance Tuesday, Hussain’s lawyer, Brian Barrett, said his client “absolutely denies” the allegations but didn’t respond to them in detail. He said Hussain turned down a plea deal that would have allowed him to return to Kashmir because he wants to stay in the U.S. and fight the charges.

Last week, Khan told the Enterprise the girl had followed him and Hussain around in an affectionate way during their stay in Saranac Lake. On the night of Feb. 27 at the Porcupine, Khan said Hussain told him the girl tried to make an advance on him, but he turned her away.

“He says there was no contact at all,” Khan said.