A former Orange Coast College student charged with vandalizing campus security vehicles and violating protective orders to stay away from the school faces up to a year in jail following a plea bargain last week, his attorney said Monday.
Robert Bouton McDougal pleaded guilty to a single felony count of vandalism and eight misdemeanors on Thursday, according to court records. The felony will be reduced to a misdemeanor at sentencing, his attorney, John Christl, said.
McDougal admitted two counts of disobeying a court order, two counts of resisting arrest, and single counts each of remaining on campus without consent, vandalism and unlawfully providing false information to a police officer, all misdemeanors.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Kazuharu Makino put a “one-year lid” on his sentence, meaning the punishment could not exceed a year behind bars, Christl said. McDougal is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 30.
Christl previously said his client struggles with a variety of mental health issues and was poorly handled by university officials as the 22-year-old sought to re-take a chemistry test.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office alleged last year when he was charged that he directed racial slurs at campus security personnel and vandalized security cars with obscenities, a racial slur and a swastika, in addition to slashing tires.
McDougal was not charged with a hate crime at the time because prosecutors did not believe they had enough evidence to support that allegation.
McDougal’s trouble started after he took a chemistry test and received a B grade, according to Christl.
The student was getting straight A’s in chemistry at the time, but was taking an exam that required a calculator for two of the 10 questions, Christl explained. He didn’t have his calculator with him and he was too afraid to ask for one, so he failed to get the A for missing the two questions, the attorney said.
McDougal “obsessed” over the exam and wanted to re-take it, according to Christl.
The teacher agreed to let McDougal re-take the exam with a calculator after class, but he showed up too early and walked into the middle of class, according to Christl. He said his client was told to wait in the hallway, where he paced back and forth.
“Apparently, the chemistry teacher didn’t like that, so she alerted the school’s director of mental health, who a day before told Robert he was not in trouble,” Christl said last year.
The director of mental health, accompanied by two security guards, went to the classroom, Christl said.
“And just when the bell was about ready to ring and the class was ready to get out, Robert runs into the classroom, and with the security guards chasing him, he’s running around the classroom saying, `I have my calculator,”’ Christl said.
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