A 22-year-old Oklahoma State University student was charged with three counts of sexual battery after he was accused of groping other students as they slept. Nathan Michael Cochran, 22, was investigated by the school after one of the students went to the Office of Student Conduct to report that he had been sexually assaulted.
The university opened student conduct hearings against the accused man, but did not notify police. Stillwater police became aware of the situation after a student reporter contacted them for information.
Criticism of the University
OSU has been criticized for not reporting the claims to police, but officials say they were protecting student privacy under FERPA (Family Educational Right to Privacy Act) requirements. However, FERPA does not prevent educational institutions from contacting police and asking them to investigate possible crimes. Cochran was charged in Payne County District Court, and police said they have interviewed five men who claim to have been sexually assaulted by him.
Sexual Battery Laws in Oklahoma
Prosecution and defense of sexual battery in Oklahoma is often complex because of the broad definition of the offense. The Oklahoma sexual battery statute, §21-1123(b), reads:B. No person shall commit sexual battery on any other person. "Sexual battery" shall mean the intentional touching, mauling or feeling of the body or private parts of any person sixteen (16) years of age or older, in a lewd and lascivious manner: 1. Without the consent of that person; 2. When committed by a state, county, municipal or political subdivision employee or a contractor or an employee of a contractor of the state, a county, a municipality or political subdivision of this state upon a person who is under the legal custody, supervision or authority of a state agency, a county, a municipality or a political subdivision of this state; or 3. When committed upon a person who is at least sixteen (16) years of age and is less than twenty (20) years of age and is a student, or in the legal custody or supervision of any public or private elementary or secondary school, or technology center school, by a person who is eighteen (18) years of age or older and is an employee of the same school system that the victim attends.
As used in this subsection, "employee of the same school system" means a teacher, principal or other duly appointed person employed by a school system or an employee of a firm contracting with a school system who exercises authority over the victim.
The key elements in prosecuting sexual battery are (1) physical, (2) sexual intent, and (3) lack of consent. If a person accidentally bumped into or brushed against the "private parts" of another person, and there was no intent for sexual gratification, then sexual battery did not occur. If an alleged victim consented to the contact, then sexual battery did not occur. In order to obtain a conviction, the prosecution must prove all three elements.
Legal Defense if Charged
A skillful defense attorney may be able to create reasonable doubt that one or more of the elements actually occurred. To find a sexual battery defense lawyer in Oklahoma click here.