Man accused of harassing American Indian students cleared

AP News
Posted: Sep 01, 2015 12:23 PM

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) — A judge has cleared a South Dakota man accused of harassing American Indian children with racial slurs and spilling beer on them at a minor league hockey game in Rapid City.

Magistrate Judge Eric Strawn filed his decision Tuesday acquitting 41-year-old Trace O'Connell.

O'Connell had pleaded not guilty to a disorderly conduct charge in the January incident that spurred protests by Native Americans who believed the charge was too lenient.

Strawn in July oversaw O'Connell's two-trial, which drew as many as 250 spectators.

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Strawn wrote in his ruling that the city hasn't proven the Philip man said any racially charged words near the children and that he didn't intentionally spray beer on them.

The judge in May had ruled out the possibility of jail time.