Hopkins professor charged with assaulting security guard

Police in Cape Cod say they found scratches on arm of 61-year-old guard who tried to break up late-night party

August 03, 2010|By Childs Walker, The Baltimore Sun

A Johns Hopkins University engineering professor was arrested early Sunday morning in Cape Cod, Mass., and charged with assaulting a 61-year-old security guard who said she was attempting to break up a party.

Noah J. Cowan, 38, was charged with assault and battery on a person over 60, said Sgt. Douglas DeCosta, a spokesman for the Falmouth Police Department. DeCosta said police responded to a call at the Marine Biology Laboratory, where Cowan was a visiting researcher, about 2:40 a.m. Sunday.

The security guard told police she had attempted to break up the revelers, who were drinking alcohol in an area where it wasn't permitted, when Cowan approached her and said, "Do you know who I am?" The guard said Cowan shoved her, and police found red scratches and scarring on her arm, DeCosta said.

They charged Cowan and arrested him a few hours later. He was arraigned Monday morning and released on his own recognizance. He could face up to three years in prison and a $1,000 fine if convicted. Cowan is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Hopkins' Laboratory for Computational Sensing and Robotics.

Cowan's attorney, William Sullivan, said the incident was a misunderstanding between an inexperienced security guard and partygoers who had been told they could drink alcohol in the campus break room. Sullivan said he has interviewed eight witnesses, none of whom saw Cowan assault the officer, and hopes that prosecutors will drop the charge once his evidence is presented.

"This is a very unfortunate situation that came out of a misunderstanding and exaggeration on behalf of the security guard," Sullivan said. "Mr. Cowan absolutely denies any assaultive behavior."

A Hopkins spokesman said he was unaware of the charge as of Tuesday afternoon and declined to comment further.


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