Metro Weekly

Oregon homophobe becomes first person charged under state’s new hate crime law

Robert Oden allegedly attacked three men leaving a gay bar in Portland

Robert Oden — Photo: Multnomah County Jail

A man in Portland, Oregon, has the dubious honor of being the first person to be charged under the state’s new hate crime law.

The law, passed in July, makes it a felony to assault someone because of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as other protected classes including race, color, or disability.

Robert Oden, 58, was arrested and charged under the law after allegedly assaulting a group of gay Latino men leaving a popular gay nightclub, the Oregonian reports.

The three men were reportedly leaving CC Slaughters in Portland around 2 a.m. when they passed Oden, who was sitting in a nearby building alcove.

Unprovoked, Oden allegedly started shouting antigay slurs at the men before assaulting all three, hitting them in their faces and leaving one man with a swollen and bloody lip and substantial pain.

As the men fled the scene, he reportedly shouted “go back to your country.”

He reportedly continued to shout homophobic and racist slurs while being arrested by police, who were called by witnesses to the assault.

Oden faces six charges, including bias crime in the first degree, two counts of bias crime in the second degree, felony assault in the fourth degree, and two counts of harassment.

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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