STILLWATER — Former Oklahoma State University student Nathan Cochran on Monday pleaded not guilty to a fourth sexual battery charge.
Cochran appeared in Payne County District Court on Monday morning. Cochran's attorney said his client is innocent of the charges against him, and questioned the accusations three men brought against Cochran.
Cochran, 22, faces four counts of sexual battery in connection with three incidents where he is accused of targeting male students while they slept. Those incidents occurred between Nov. 3, 2011, and Aug. 15, 2012, according to court documents.
Cochran pleaded not guilty to the three previous charges in December.
His next scheduled court appearance is at 10 a.m. March 4.
The newest charge alleges Cochran placed his hands on a male victim's leg and lower back and attempted to place his hands in the man's pants without the man's consent while the man tried to sleep.
The man also told police Cochran told him he wanted to know what it was like to be with a man sexually, according to the charge.
John Coyle, Cochran's attorney, said he was concerned by “interrelationships” among Cochran's accusers. None of the three men is named in court documents.
Coyle said he also found it suspicious that at least one of the men waited more than a year before contacting police about the alleged incident.
“It's a very interesting case,” Coyle said.
One of the incidents took place Nov. 3, 2011, according to court documents. In that case, a man told police Cochran groped him while he was asleep.
A second man told police Cochran groped him on Aug. 15, 2012, while the man was asleep in Cochran's dorm room.
The man told police he went to the bathroom and that Cochran sent him a series of panicked text messages, according to court documents.
He showed police a text message on his phone in which Cochran said, “Please I can't ruin my life cause I was black out drunk ... Just text me?”
Stillwater police have said they think victims in the case could number into the dozens, with incidents occurring on campus at OSU, elsewhere in Stillwater, and in Tahlequah.
University officials learned of the assault reports on Nov. 12, but concerns over federal student privacy laws led them not to share this information with police.
Instead, they held student conduct hearings resulting in a decision to suspend Cochran from the university for three years beginning with the end of the fall 2012 semester.
Police opened an investigation into the sexual assault cases Dec. 7, after a reporter from the campus newspaper contacted the department with questions about the incidents. That investigation began three and a half weeks after OSU officials became aware of the matter.
On Dec. 13, OSU President Burns Hargis called for an investigation into the university's response. A task force assembled through the Board of Regents for Oklahoma State University and the A&M Colleges was assigned to carry out that investigation. The review is ongoing.