Abuse of corpse case against Pitt student to proceed to Court of Common Pleas


Romita Das | Senior Staff Photographer

The Cathedral of Learning.

By Alexandra Ross, Assistant News Editor

Content warning: This story contains explicit descriptions of alleged sexual misconduct. 

The abuse of corpse case against Sonel Jimenez will proceed to the Court of Common Pleas, Magisterial District Judge Kim Berkeley Clark ruled Thursday afternoon. 

Jimenez, 19, of Albrightsville, Pennsylvania, and Amay Gupta, 19, of Fremont, California, were each charged with one count of abuse of corpse in December. The students were charged in relation to an alleged incident on Nov. 4 in an anatomy lab at Victoria Hall. Clark dismissed the charges against Gupta in January. 

An unnamed spokesperson for the University declined to comment on Jimenez’s case. In a previous statement, a University spokesperson said the alleged actions of Gupta and Jimenez “are in direct contrast to our values and deep respect for the gift made by the decedent and their loved ones.” Pitt is reviewing its internal protocols surrounding donated human tissue as a result of the incident, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in December. 

The incident allegedly took place during an honors Literature and Science class, which includes an anatomy lab component for the purpose of “gaining a fundamental knowledge of human and comparative anatomy,” according to the course description. 

Two female Pitt students separately testified at the hearing that they witnessed Jimenez insert his fingers inside a female cadaver’s vaginal canal twice during the lab, and said they were offended by it. One student called it the “ultimate disrespect” of those who donated their bodies to research. 

Dolores Bojazi, Jimenez’s attorney, requested that Clark dismiss the charges against Jimenez for reasons including discrepancies in witness testimony about the placement of the cadavers relative to the witnesses, and said that the vagina is a muscle which could be covered in a course about muscular anatomy. One of the students, a teaching assistant, testified that the genitalia are not part of the curriculum of Literature and Science and professors would “never give permission” to touch them. 

At the hearing, Detective Edward Wolff of Pitt police testified that he conducted a voluntary interview with Jimenez prior to filing the abuse of corpse charge against him. Wolff testified that during this interview, Jimenez at first denied touching the cadaver’s genitalia. But after Wolff informed Jimenez that the two students had come forward as witnesses to the event, Wolff said Jimenez admitted to the alleged actions. 

Jimenez’s formal arraignment will take place on March 28 at 1 p.m. at the Allegheny County Courthouse.