California student charged with hate
crime enters not-guilty plea
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[January 07, 2014]
By Laila Kearney
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) — A man accused of
orchestrating the racial bullying of his black roommate at a California
university, spurring campus protests and outrage from civil rights
leaders, pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor hate crime and battery
charges on Monday, officials said.
Logan Beaschler, 18, is among a group of white students at San
Jose State University accused of taunting their African-American
roommate with racial slurs and attempting to hang a bicycle lock
around his neck last fall.
All four students suspected of involvement in the taunting have been
suspended from the university, in Northern California east of the
tech hub of Silicon Valley, where student protests erupted in
November after the accusations came to light.
Beaschler's lawyer Charles Mesirow described his client, who faces
up to a year in county jail if convicted on the charges, as a
"nerdy" engineering honor student who had played "insensitive
pranks" on his roommate but was not a racist.
"Kids with too much time on their hands will do stupid things," he
Beaschler was arraigned at the Santa Clara County Superior Court in
San Jose, where a request to release him on $15,000 bail was denied,
according to his lawyer.
Joseph Bomgardner, 19, and Colin Warren, 18, also face misdemeanor
hate crime and battery charges in the case, Santa Clara District
Attorney's Office spokesman Sean Webby said. They are scheduled to
be arraigned later this month, he added.
Local media reported that another student, who has remained
unidentified because he is a juvenile, faces the same charges.
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Authorities said the young men displayed Nazi symbols and a
Confederate flag in their dormitory suite as a way of tormenting the
then-17-year-old victim, who was also left with minor injuries from
struggling against the group as they tried to force a U-shaped
bicycle lock around his neck.
The victim's parents complained to the university in November after
visiting their son at his dorm and learning of the harassment, San
Jose State University spokeswoman Pat Harris said.
Student protests were held at the school after reports of the
incidents surfaced and a leader with National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People called for the accused boys to be
charged with felony crimes.
University president Mohammad Qayoumi stated publicly in November
that he and other school officials had "failed" the black student
and could have done more to protect him. The university is
conducting an investigation into the allegations, Harris said.
(Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Walsh)
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