Rape charges have been filed against a high school senior in Norman, Oklahoma, where accusations of bullying of alleged victims have prompted student walk-outs and captured media attention.
Charges were filed Tuesday against Tristen Killman-Hardin, 18, in Cleveland County District Court. He was charged with two counts of first-degree rape of an unconscious victim. He was formally arraigned Wednesday afternoon, and his bond was set at $150,000.
Two other sexual assault reports have also been made against Killman-Hardin.
The affidavit filed with Killman-Hardin's charges also states there was video evidence of the rape, but no charges have been filed relating to the production of child pornography.
The female accuser, a 16-year-old fellow student, is currently working with an attorney to get policies changed at Norman Public Schools regarding bullying, something she says she faced at NHS after reporting the rape.
Elton Jenkins, the attorney representing Killman-Hardin's accuser, had previously said the student who bullied his client was not being disciplined by school administrators. The bullying incident sparked a campaign, #YesAllDaughters, that quickly went viral.
Members of the group organized a peaceful protest and walk-out at the high school last month, showing support for those who say they've been victimized and advocating for a change in school bullying policies.
Jenkins said rape cases are generally difficult to prosecute, but he believes this one is stronger because of video and audio evidence.
The attorney said he has heard an audio recording on which Killman-Hardin admits to "having sex" with the 16-year-old while she was unconscious.
"This (case) is different because there's audio of the perpetrator here, if it can be confirmed it was him," Jenkins said. "I've heard the audio and I'm sure it's him, but I don't know if he's denying it."
As far as the other reports of sexual assault, Jenkins said he has spoken to the investigator and the district attorney, and they are still trying gather more information on those possible incidents.
Since the initial protest at Norman High School, Superintendent Dr. Joe Siano announced the district is working on implementing a comprehensive, research-based sexual assault curriculum.
While the school was under heavy scrutiny after the reports of sexual assault reports and bullying, the district stated Killman-Hardin was immediately suspended after the initial rape report was made. He is not expected to ever return to the school.
The district also said they received one report of bullying and "immediately responded to that incident," according to a press release.
Bruha writes for The Norman (Okla.) Transcript.