Oklahoma student charged with rape in case that sparked school protest

Reuters News
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Posted: Dec 02, 2014 6:40 PM

By Heide Brandes

OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - Police arrested a former Norman High School student on Tuesday on charges of raping a classmate, accusations that led to a mass walk-out in November at the suburban Oklahoma City school in support of the alleged victim.

Tristen Kole Killman-Hardin, 18, was charged in Cleveland County District Court with two counts of first-degree rape of an unconscious 16-year-old victim, police said.

A lawyer for Killman-Hardin was not immediately available for comment.

Two other girls have also accused him of sexual assault, according to activist group YES All Daughters, which organized the school protest. A prosecutor told local media more charges may be filed.

In an affidavit signed by Norman Police Detective Ronald Collett, Killman-Hardin said he admitted to having intercourse with the girl when he knew she was intoxicated. Norman police are in possession of audio and video related to the incident, the arrest affidavit said.

The victim reported that a video of the attack appeared on her cell phone and on social media. She reported the assault that she said took place in September to the Norman Police Department, which has been investigating the case for months.

Nearly 1,000 students at Norman High School walked out of classes on Nov. 24 to protest what they said was a failure by school administrators to protect three girls who have accused the male classmate of sexually assaulting them.

One of the girls said that on the day she came back to the Norman school after the alleged rape, she was verbally assaulted by a group of students who bullied her about the incident. She has not returned to the school since then.

Officials for Norman High School said Killman-Hardin was suspended for the school year for cyberbullying prior to the November protest and they have helped law enforcement investigate the allegations.

The protest at the Norman school came after several major U.S. colleges, including the University of Virginia, began investigating high-profile accusations of sexual assault on their campuses.

(Reporting by Heide Brandes; Editing by Jon Herskovitz and Eric Beech)