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Friday, April 12, 2024

Suspended Phi Delta Theta fraternity member pleads not guilty to sexual battery

He's still enrolled at UF

Update: Prosecutors dropped all charges against Akhil Kancherla.

Suspended Phi Delta Theta brother and 19-year-old UF sophomore Akhil Kancherla pleaded not guilty Jan. 20 to sexual battery charges after his Jan. 11 arrest

Kancherla requested a trial by jury and waived the right to be present at any and all court and pre-trial recordings, according to court documents. He also intends to participate in the discovery, or the process of compiling a list of potential witnesses and evidence that may be presented at trial. 

Kancherla is still enrolled at UF, according to UF spokesperson Cynthia Roldan. On Jan. 13, he was issued a no trespass warning — meaning he is unable to enter all UF and Shands properties without permission — that expires in 2026. 

Kancherla and the victim had been communicating via Snapchat prior to the incident when they ran into each other at a bar downtown. After leaving the bar, they had consensual sex at Kancherla’s residence, according to the arrest report

Soon after, Kancherla forced himself on the victim, despite their lack of consent, according to the report. The victim alleges Kancherla engaged in sexual activity for several minutes, while Kancherla told police he stopped within five seconds. 

Kancherla told police he used a condom during both sexual encounters, but the victim said no condom was used. It was after the police informed Kancherla they were working on a search warrant for the condom that he admitted no condom was used that night, according to the report.

Kancherla also told police he was too drunk to consent and the victim took advantage of him, but he later conflicted this by saying that the level of alcohol he consumed didn’t exceed his usual limit, according to the report.

Following his arrest, the court ordered a standing No Contact Order Jan. 12, meaning Kancherla can’t contact or be within 500 feet of the victim, their residence, car or place of employment. 

Kancherla is being represented by John Whitaker and Avera and Smith, LLP, who didn’t respond to requests for comment. The prosecutor assigned to the case is Brooke King. 

Eighth circuit’s Judge Phillip Pena, who has served in his position since January 2015 and has been ruling on criminal cases since January 2017, is assigned to the case. 

Pena’s history of rulings reveal some disparities in race; Pena’s average sentence for a Black person results in 124% more prison time than a white person in third-degree felony cases, according to 2016 reporting by the Gainesville Sun.

A State Attorney's Office spokesperson said it’s still collecting evidence and conducting interviews, but it can’t give any more information at this time. 

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The case has no trial date set as of Sunday evening.

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Ella Thompson

Ella Thompson is a third-year journalism major and the Spring 2024 Metro Editor. In her free time, she likes to go to the beach or read a good book. 

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