A sexual assault charge has been dropped against a University of Montana exchange student who struck another student after learning she was transgender.
Obioha Onwubiko pleaded guilty last week in Missoula Municipal Court to a misdemeanor assault charge in connection with the April 28 incident outside a dance at the Elks Club.
“Obi never denied striking her and had, from the beginning, accepted that responsibility and never attempted to justify his actions under the law,” Onwubiko’s attorney, Craig Shannon, said Thursday. “But as long as the sexual assault charge was hanging out there, he was prepared to fight the entire case.”
The sexual assault charge stemmed from Anita Green’s accusation that Onwubiko grabbed her crotch just before he hit her.
Onwubiko received a six-month deferred sentence on the assault charge, and must pay $203 in fines and court costs. The deferred sentence means the charge will be erased from his record if he stays out of trouble.
Onwubiko and Green agreed that they danced together at the Elks Club and also kissed, though each termed the other the aggressor.
Green, who gave the Missoulian permission to use her name, testified in September at a Missoula Municipal Court hearing on a restraining order that Onwubiko grabbed her crotch, and then punched her, after she resisted his advances. Onwubiko said at that hearing that he merely touched her crotch to confirm his suspicions that she was a man.
Municipal Court granted the one-year restraining order that bans Onwubiko from coming within 1,500 feet of Green, who is also a University of Montana student. Shannon appealed the order, but on Thursday Missoula County District Court Judge Dusty Deschamps rejected the appeal.
Green said Thursday she feels as though the restraining order provides “a safety net.”
As to the resolution of the assault case, she said, “I feel that Obi was given a slap on the wrist and I feel like he got off so easy on this. ... This isn’t justice.”
Reporter Gwen Florio can be reached at 523-5268, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @CopsAndCourts.