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Brown University assistant professor accused of groping student

Mohammad Ibrahim has been charged with second-degree sexual assault and placed on administrative leave from the university, court records and interviews show.
Sayles Hall on the campus of Brown University in Providence, R.I.
A spokesman for Brown University said Mohammad Ibrahim was on administrative leave but declined further comment. Lane Turner / Boston Globe via Getty Images file

A Brown University assistant professor has been charged with second-degree sexual assault for allegedly sneaking up behind a graduate student and groping her, court records show.

Mohammad Ibrahim, who specializes in cancer pathology, pleaded not guilty to the felony charge in district court Friday morning in Providence, Rhode Island, records show.

A graduate student who worked in the same campus lab as Ibrahim told police he snuck up behind her in February and grabbed her breasts while rubbing his penis against her back, according to the warrant for Ibrahim’s arrest. 

She told police it happened twice in the lab, and she said no each time. At first, she said, she hesitated to speak up because he was in charge of the lab and had “threatened to get her thrown out of the program if she did not divorce her husband.”

Ibrahim, 34, did not respond to a reporter’s messages. His attorney, John Grasso, said Ibrahim “will defend himself and be exonerated of the false allegation made against him.”

Brian Clark, a spokesman for Brown University, said Ibrahim was placed on administrative leave, but declined further comment. “We’re not otherwise at liberty to speak to matters of personnel involving individual employees,” he said.

The student applied for a restraining order against Ibrahim last month, court records show.

She said she and Ibrahim had become friends online in 2020, and met in person for the first time in the fall of 2021 when she moved to Mobile, Alabama, to attend the University of South Alabama College of Medicine.

She said he grabbed her breasts for the first time when she was a student there, the arrest affidavit says. (The court records did not indicate if she reported that to Alabama police.) 

In September, she moved to Providence to attend Brown for her Ph.D. Ibrahim finished his doctorate program in December and was hired to be in charge of the lab at Brown, according to the arrest warrant.

The woman told Providence Police that she did not initially report the alleged assaults in February “due to his supervisory position, and his threats that she would never get her Ph.D. without him,” according to the affidavit.

On a third occasion, another graduate student saw Ibrahim sneak up behind her and saw her jump and start shaking, but Ibrahim “just laughed at her and tried to play it off as a joke,” the affidavit said.

Ibrahim was released on a on his own recognizance, records show. His next court hearing is scheduled for July.

CORRECTION (April 24, 2023, 2:35 p.m. ET): A previous version of this article incorrectly described Mohammad Ibrahim’s bond conditions. He was released on his own recognizance, not a $1,000 bond.