NORMAN — Former University of Oklahoma student Naasik Ferdous was sentenced to 10 years Thursday in Cleveland County District Court for stalking and threatening the student he believed had gotten him expelled.
Ferdous, 22, is sentenced to serve five years in the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, followed by five years of closely monitored probation, Cleveland County District Judge Lori Walkley ruled Thursday.
Ferdous was arrested in October 2012 after driving 840 miles from Ohio to Norman with the admitted intention of physically assaulting Kelsey Devonshire, who was the senior goal keeper for OU’s women’s soccer team at the time. He’d been expelled from OU in 2011 for stalking-type behavior toward female students, especially athletes. Though he had never met Devonshire, he wanted to kill her because he thought she was the reason he’d been forced to leave OU.
“He has been obsessed with OU since 2004,” his mother, Bilquis Ferdousi, testified Thursday.
Ferdous has been obsessed with attending OU since he was in sixth grade, which his mother said she always thought was strange because he’d never even been to Oklahoma. The same year this obsession began, Ferdous was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. His school teachers noticed his tendency to say things without realizing the consequences of his words, which is a symptom of Asbergers.
“He had a tendency to lie and tell stories to get people’s attention,” his mother said.
Counselors told her Ferdous’ obsession with OU was another symptom of the disorder, she said. She began taking him to counselors and he was placed in special education classes until he graduated from high school. Academically very intelligent, Ferdous scored high on the ACT and SAT and always maintained a high grade point average.
Ferdous stopped seeing counselors after high school and enrolled at OU without telling administrators about his disorder, she said.
After his expulsion from OU in Jan. 2011, Ferdous moved back to Ohio to live with his mother, a computer information systems professor at the University of Cincinnati.
On Oct. 16, 2012, he drove to Kansas to deliver a letter to the residence of a former female OU student’s family. In the letter, he expressed love for the woman, whom he had never met before, and he wrote that he had bought a knife and was going to go to Norman to kill Devonshire.
OU officials were contacted, and OU police officer Christopher Patison testified that he talked to Ferdous over the phone while Ferdous was driving from Kansas to Norman. Ferdous told Patison he didn’t have any weapons, and Patison never found any knife or other weapons on Ferdous or in his vehicle after police located him in Norman.
Ferdous has been held in custody in Cleveland County Detention Center for the last eight months, according to court documents. In November 2012, Ferdous’ attorney applied for determination of competency, and the Oklahoma Forensic Center found him competent to stand trial in December. In May, Ferdous pleaded no contest.
Judge Walkley ruled that as conditions of Ferdous’ probation, he will not be allowed to come into contact with any OU student, set foot on the OU campus or use any type of social media.
Ferdous’ mother testified that his tendency to threaten and harass people was mostly carried out over social media and email. When OU police took Ferdous into custody, they found saved in his cell phone more than 200 pictures downloaded from Facebook of a female former OU student, Patison said.
“I think of other catastrophes that were not averted,” Walkley said before she stated Ferdous’ sentence.
The catastrophe of Ferdous carrying out his threats against Devonshire was averted, thanks to his verbalizing these threats to several people and OU police quickly catching him, Walkley said.
Walkley said while she’s not going to punish Ferdous for other catastrophes, such as last year’s Connecticut or Colorado shootings, she believes his judgment can’t be trusted. Therefore, another condition of his sentence is that he receives mental counseling throughout his time in prison and probation.
Devonshire and her family attended Ferdous’ sentencing on Thursday, and while leaving court, Devonshire’s father John said he thought the case was presented fairly.
“I hope (Ferdous) gets the help he needs,” he said, “because he needs help.”