The attorney for an Oregon State University student charged with hate crimes said Monday her client had worked out a deal with OSU to return to campus, but a university spokesperson said he was unaware of such an agreement.
Andrew Oswalt appeared in Benton County Circuit Court for his first hearing since being released from jail Friday. Oswalt is accused of affixing racist stickers last year to cars belonging to members of a group called Showing Up for Racial Justice.
Jennifer Nash, who was standing in for Oswalt’s retained counsel, Nicolas Ortiz, told Judge David Connell that Oswalt had reached an agreement with OSU that would allow him to return to the campus. However, university spokesperson Steve Clark said he was not aware of any agreement the school had made with Oswalt.
“We’re not aware of what they’re referring to,” Clark said.
Oswalt is a graduate student and has taught classes at OSU.
A judge previously ordered that Oswalt have no contact with the university. Nash said the university is not a victim in the case and asked that the contact order be amended to state no contact with OSU except for as the university has agreed.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Ryan Joslin said he had not seen a copy of the stated agreement and wants to review it before making a decision. He said one of Oswalt’s former students reported Oswalt to police after seeing photos of the alleged crime. Oswalt then became aware that the student had reported him and sent her an email. Joslin said the email was not threatening in nature but that the student was concerned about further contact.
Nash said she understood the prosecution’s concern but that the no-contact order could include narrower language that would allow him to pursue his studies and employment.
Connell said he would need to see a copy of an agreement with OSU before amending the stipulation.
Connell did modify some of the terms of Oswalt’s release in response to requests from Nash. The judge allowed Oswalt to visit his parents in Washington state. Connell also gave Oswalt permission to relocate to Washington as long as he alerts the court of his change of address.
Nash also asked that the judge modify a no-contact order regarding one of the witnesses in the case, who lives in Oswalt’s building. The judge allowed Oswalt to enter the building so long as he doesn’t converse with the person.
Joslin did not object to those requests.
Frederick Edwards, the president of the local NAACP chapter, attended the hearing alongside dozens of members of the civil rights group, as well as members of Showing Up for Racial Justice. Edwards said he felt the prosecutor and judge gave Oswalt too much leeway.
“This is a hate crime,” Edwards said. “We have to remember what it is.”
Edwards said he was glad Nash didn’t ask the judge to forgo the court's order that Oswalt surrender all his firearms to law enforcement.
Oswalt's next court hearing is set for 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 26.