A former Orange Coast College student who admitted vandalizing campus security vehicles and violating protective orders to stay away from the school was sentenced Thursday to six months in jail.
Robert Bouton McDougal, who accepted a judge’s plea bargain last month, has credit for two months served behind bars and may apply for home confinement, according to his attorney, John Christl.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Kazuharu Makino put a “one-year lid” on any potential punishment of McDougal when the defendant pleaded guilty, Christl said.
“I was expecting less, but I respect the judge’s decision,” Christl said of the six-month sentence.
McDougal was back to taking college classes and is “doing very well,” Christl said. “Hopefully, he will get home confinement to continue on with his school work.”
McDougal pleaded guilty in July to a single felony count of vandalism and eight misdemeanors, according to court records. The felony was reduced Thursday to a misdemeanor, 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.
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.