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Former UCLA Water Polo Player Pleads Not Guilty to Rape

Hakop Kaplanyan was arrested for a second time on Friday.

Screenshot of Hakop Kaplanyan, a former UCLA water polo player charged with rape and false imprisonment with violence, among other counts.
Screenshot of Hakop Kaplanyan, a former UCLA water polo player charged with rape and false imprisonment with violence, among other counts.

Originally posted at 2:30 p.m. March 3, 2014. Updated with new details.

A former UCLA water polo player who allegedly attacked three women over a seven-month period pleaded not guilty today to rape and other charges.

Hakop Jack Kaplanyan, 19, of Glendale, was indicted Feb. 25 on one felony count each of forcible rape, false imprisonment by violence and possession of matter depicting a minor engaging in sexual conduct, along with a misdemeanor count of sexual battery by restraint. He was also indicted on two felony counts each of sexual penetration by a foreign object and assault with intent to commit rape, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Prosecutors said the charges involve three victims in attacks that occurred between Oct. 1, 2012, and April 2, 2013.

Kaplanyan was previously arrested in April 2013, just after a female student filed a report with campus police saying he had raped her in a campus residence hall.

An attorney representing Kaplanyan, then a freshman polo player, claimed at the time that his client had consensual sex with the woman.

Kaplanyan was released on bail and charges were not immediately filed, but he was suspended from the university.

He was arrested again Friday and jailed on $590,000 bail.

His attorney, George Mgdesyan, asked during an afternoon hearing that Kaplanyan's bail be reduced, arguing that he did not pose a flight risk and calling the prosecution's case "weak."

"This is a he-said, she-said case," Mgdesyan said.

The defense attorney insisted the sex acts with the victims was consensual, and said he had text messages supporting the claim.     Deputy District Attorney Liliana Gonzalez said that when Kaplanyan was first arrested, prosecutors knew of only one alleged victim.

"All three victims do not know each other," Gonzalez said during the bail hearing, adding that the "number of victims and the span of time" spoke to a danger to the community that warranted $590,000 bail.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge George Lomeli declined to lower the bail amount.

"It goes without saying that these charges are very, very serious," he said.

The judge ordered Kaplanyan to surrender his passport and not to have any contact with the alleged victims.

Mgdesyan said his client would still post bail, and he was expected to be released today.

Kaplanyan, redshirted during the 2012 season, was listed as 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighing 205 pounds. He was among 324 UCLA athletes named to the Athletic Director's Honor Roll for the fall 2012 quarter, which requires at least a 3.0 grade point average and passing at least 12 units.

As a student of Glendale's Hoover High School, Kaplanyan scored 593 water polo goals, the second best in the state.

If convicted as charged, he faces up to 37 years and four months in prison, according to prosecutors. He is due back in court April 29 for a pretrial hearing.

--City News Service

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