LGBT: UM student pleads guilty 

On Nov. 27, University of Montana student Obioha Onwubiko pleaded guilty in Missoula Municipal Court to a misdemeanor assault charge that resulted from an April incident outside the Elk’s Club when Onwubiko punched a transgender woman in the face.

Onwubiko originally faced two misdemeanor charges, one of them sexual assault, for allegedly grabbing trans woman Anita Green’s crotch before he punched her. The two charges were punishable by a maximum of one year in custody and a $1,000 fine. In exchange for Onwubiko’s guilty plea, Missoula prosecutor Carrie Garber dropped the sexual assault charge.

Onwubiko is paying $203 in fines and surcharges and received a six-month deferred sentence, meaning unless Onwubiko gets in trouble again, he won’t serve time as a result of the incident.

“I feel that’s a slap on the wrist,” says Green, who’s a fourth-year UM student from Billings.

On April 28, Green and Onwubiko, a 21-year old Nigerian exchange student, danced at the Elk’s. They also kissed. Green’s account of what happened that night differs from Onwubiko’s. Green says that Onwubiko was rough with her and demanding, and that during their interaction Onwubiko discovered Green has a penis by grabbing her crotch without permission. She says he became enraged when he discovered that she is a biological male. Onwubiko says that he touched Green’s genitals because he suspected Green had deceived him into believing that she was a biological woman. He wanted to confirm his suspicions.

Onwubiko’s Missoula attorney, Craig Shannon, told the Independent that in light of the overall context—the fact that Onwubiko wasn’t seeking sexual gratification when touching Green’s genitals—the sexual assault charge wasn’t appropriate. Shannon admits, however, that the other charge was fitting. “His bottom line was, ‘Look, I hit her. And there was a reason I hit her,’” Shannon says. “It does not make it justifiable.”

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