Hate crime charges filed after men attacked near gay bar
A man with a long history with the local criminal justice system has been accused of punching and yelling racial and homophobic slurs outside a gay bar, triggering the first use of Oregon's new hate crimes law.
Robert William Oden, 58, has been charged with a first-degree bias crime, fourth-degree assault, two counts of harrassment and two counts of a second-degree bias crime, which is the new legal term for a hate crime.
Court documents allege that four men were exiting CC Slaughters, 219 N.W. Davis St., around 2 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 10, when they walked past Oden without speaking to him.
Oden is accused of rousing from the alcove, and beginning to scream slurs, then attacking the three men. After the altercation, he allegedly yelled "Go back to your country," according to a probable cause affidavit.
The arresting officer wrote that one man had a "swollen and bloody lip" and that two other men were also punched, and that Oden did not appear to be visibly injured. The men were not treated at hospitals.
Bar employees witnessed the altercation and alerted authorities, and Oden apparently continued to use racial slurs after being taken into custody, according to the officer's report. After his arrest, Oden told authorities he was upset because someone had kicked open the gate he was sleeping near.
Oden, who is described as a "transient" in court documents, has a long history of criminal charges, running from 1987 to 2001 in Joesphine County, and beginning in 2009 in Multnomah County.
The charges include DUII, assault, harassment, menacing, contempt of court, criminal trespass, disorderly conduct and conduct prohibited by TriMet. He has been charged with possessing alcohol in public or in a park more than a dozen times.
Many charges were not pursued. Oden was apparently pepper sprayed and also arrested after private security guards responded to a downtown fight in late May, records report.
Oregon's revamped hate crimes law went into effect on July 15. The new law adds protections for crimes triggered by a person's gender identity, and removes a previous requirement that first-degree hate crimes involve more than one person.
Oden remains in the downtown jail at this time.
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