LSA junior Stephen Williamson pled guilty Tuesday to two counts of assault and battery for “tossing a beer off a balcony and splashing people below,” Wilson’s attorney Joseph Simon said.
Williamson was on trial for an alleged ethnically motivated incident last September.
In exchange for his guilty plea, additional charges of being a disorderly person and indecent exposure will likely be dropped at his sentencing on May 4, said Steve Hiller, Washtenaw County deputy chief assistant prosecutor.
Williamson was accused of shouting ethnic slurs and urinating off his balcony on an Asian couple who were walking by in September.
“(Williamson has) always maintained he has never urinated on anyone, and in particular never took action against anyone for their ethnic background,” Simon said.
Williamson asked to be sentenced under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act and will likely receive probation. The Holmes Act applies to 17- to 20-year-olds and stipulates that if a lawbreaker successfully completes the sentence given, the conviction will be expunged from permanent record.
Hiller said the court would likely agree to use the Holmes Act. Neither Hiller nor Simon could comment on the specifics of the case – including the results of tests meant to determine if there was urine on the victim’s shirt – because of the ongoing court process.
Williamson declined to comment because the case is still pending
News of the alleged incident last fall touched off a debate about how welcoming the University climate is for minorities.
Stephanie Kao, co-chair of the United Asian American Organization, said the group has not been focusing its time and energy on the case directly, but on improving the climate around campus for minority students.
“This incident highlighted to administrators that the climate (on campus) is not ideal, and students of color deal with a lot more issues than we should to go to this university,” she said.
Since the incident, the University administration has implemented a hotline for reporting hate crimes and has held town hall meetings to discuss problems facing the Asian communities.
This semester, the University is also launching the “Expect Respect” campaign that aims to educate students about bias and hate.