A former Lincoln High School student who was arrested at school in January after a classmate accused him of sexual assault pleaded guilty to lesser charges Friday in Multnomah County Juvenile Court, ending a highly charged case that confounded the Lincoln community during the 2016-17 school year and helped push Portland Public Schools to reform its policy for addressing alleged sexual assaults.
The teenager, dressed in a white shirt and dark slacks in front of Judge Patrick Henry, pleaded guilty to five misdemeanors, including two counts of unlawful delivery of Xanax, a controlled substance, two counts of unlawful dissemination of an intimate image and one count of harassment. Under Oregon law, harassment includes offensive physical contact.
As part of the plea, Multnomah County prosecutors dropped the most serious charges against the teenager, including felony sex abuse in the second degree.
The Portland Tribune isn't naming the teenager because he was 16 at the time of the off-campus incident, in June 2016, when school was out for summer.
In response to the incident, which became well known last year at tight-knit Lincoln, Portland Public Schools' board in April introduced a new anti-harassment policy. Among other changes, the new rules called for a full-time position at PPS to respond to and help prevent instances of sexual assault among students and teachers. The case of former PPS teacher Mitch Whitehurst, the recent subject of an Oregonian investigation into inappropriate conduct with students going back to the 1980s, also prompted the board to act. The board is expected to adopt the measure this fall.
The former Lincoln student, a senior at the time of his arrest, agreed Friday to one year of formal probation and 24 hours of community service. He'll also write a letter of responsibility to his victim.
Judith Swanson, deputy district attorney, told Judge Henry the victim agreed with that resolution.
David Lesh, attorney for the teenage boy, said his client was initially charged too aggressively but that he was not blameless for what happened in June 2016. His client has taken responsibility for his part in the incident, Lesh said: "It has profoundly affected his life."
Correction: An earlier version of this story mistakenly said PPS already had adopted its new anti-harassment policy. It is in progress.