STILLWATER — A former Oklahoma State University student who pleaded guilty to sexual battery charges Friday won't face jail time.
Nathan Micheal Cochran, 22, was accused of a series of sexual assaults against male OSU students. Cochran pleaded guilty Friday to three counts of sexual battery. A fourth sexual battery charge was dropped.
As part of a plea agreement in Payne County District Court, Cochran received seven years of probation and was ordered to complete a six-month inpatient counseling program managed by the Park Plaza Church of Christ in Tulsa. Cochran also was ordered to register as a sex offender.
During Friday's arraignment, Judge Stephen Kistler asked Payne County Assistant District Attorney Lynn Hermanson whether the victims had been made aware of Cochran's plea deal.
Hermanson replied that she'd spoken with the victims several times, and that they'd approved of the agreement.
Jay Husbands, Cochran's defense attorney, said his client hopes to go through the required counseling program and put the charges behind him. Cochran is a bright man who wants to resume his life, Husbands said.
“He's accepting responsibility and is moving forward with his life,” Husbands 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 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 said they thought victims in the case could number into the dozens, with incidents occurring on campus at OSU, elsewhere in Stillwater and in Tahlequah.
OSU officials came under fire for their handling of the assaults. University officials learned of the assault reports Nov. 12, but didn't share that information with police, citing concerns over federal student privacy laws.
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 concluded OSU's decision not to notify police about the case was “misguided.”