Ex-prof gets deferred sentence

BY SCOTT RAYNOR | JULY 16, 2009 7:15 AM

A former UI business faculty member who pleaded guilty to domestic abuse was given a deferred judgment at his sentencing Wednesday.

Puneet Handa, 52, will return to the courtroom in two years — July 15, 2011 — so a judge can decide his sentence.

Handa said he resigned from the UI in December 2008; he was arrested on Sept. 22, 2008.

He pled guilty to first-degree harassment and domestic assault Oct. 20, 2008.

District Associate Judge Stephen Gerard deferred his judgment so Handa would be able to get a job with a clean record, among other reasons.

A prepared written statement by the victim — Handa’s wife, Rosie Handa — was read by the state’s attorney, expressing forgiveness and a desire to move on with her life.

In his deposition Wednesday, Puneet Handa said trouble arose when Rosie Handa asked for a divorce Sept. 22, 2008. Puneet Handa said was suffering from a panic attack when he assaulted his wife.

According to police documents, Coralville police responded to a call from the Handa residence and found Rosie Handa with her face covered in blood and bruises.

She told officers her husband choked her and dug his nails into her face, police reports show.

The next day, Puneet Handa called the residence in Coralville from jail, where he spoke with a family member and threatened to kill Rosie Handa and the rest of the family.

Puneet Handa said he was living in a Coralville motel complex, Suburban Extended Stay, after his initial stay in jail. Rosie Handa was paying for the motel and his groceries, he claimed.

Soon after, Rosie Handa stopped paying for the motel charges, and Puneet Handa says he was given 15 minutes by officers to get his things out of the motel.

Claiming he had no money and place to go, he sat in his car, developing cold sweats because of diabetic shock, he said.

“Even when I came to the States, I was never homeless or penniless,” he said at his sentencing.

But instead of going to a hospital, he returned to Rosie Handa’s home, frightening her and violating a no-contact order. Puneet Handa claimed he was not in his right mind at the time.

“It is like a rabbit who is hunted by a cheetah; he just runs to his hole,” he said.

Rosie Handa told police he assaulted the nanny and the nanny’s husband, who were home at the time, though Puneet Handa disputes this.

He contended that the nanny and her husband were assisting him in up the house’s stairs in his diabetic shock when he fell and accidentally struck the nanny’s face.

He was arrested at the scene.

Puneet Handa was taken to the UI Hospitals and Clinics, where he stayed for about two weeks, after which he was given a 57-day jail sentence for violating the no-contact order. The sentence was reduced for good behavior.

Rosie Handa did not attend the sentencing.

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