Criminal Justice

Adjunct law prof faces theft and harassment charges over campus demonstration

An adjunct law professor at the University of Oregon not only had his teaching duties reassigned after a confrontation with protestors at a campus demonstration on Thursday but was criminally charged.

James Olmsted, 58, was cited for second-degree theft and physical harassment, escorted by authorities from the campus and given a trespass letter that prohibits him from returning to the U of O for 18 months, reports the Oregonian.

The theft charge relates to a cellphone Olmsted snatched from a student as she was recording the confrontation; police later recovered it, a campus police spokesman told the newspaper.

“An investigation is ongoing and other charges may be pending,” says a written police department statement provided to the ABA Journal by a university spokesman Friday evening.

Video of the confrontation was posted on the Internet and Olmsted can be seen taking a woman’s electronic device on the footage.

He was cited Thursday, but not taken into custody, at the scene of the protest on the U of O campus.

Olmsted did not respond to a request for comment Friday from the ABA Journal.

The Oregonian article elicited numerous comments from readers with different perspectives. While some felt the criminal charges were merited, others said the digital recordings showed that Olmsted had gotten physical only after a protester touched him first and questioned whether criminal charges were necessary to deal with his behavior.

An Inside Higher Ed article gives further details about the demonstration.

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