Autistic Student Alleges Assault, Sues College for $5M

Autistic Student Alleges Assault, Sues College for $5M
Susan Dutca-Lovell

An autistic Orange Coast College student who was barred from campus is suing the institution for $5 million, claiming it mistreated him. The civil lawsuit was filed after an altercation where the student was pepper-sprayed and arrested for felony vandalism and misdemeanor charges.

Robert McDougal's side of the story is slightly different than that of the college. According to college officials, McDougal's problems with the college began in February 2017, when he repeatedly "incessantly" emailed his chemistry instructor, asking to retake an exam with a calculator. After she had denied his request, he took his exam sans calculator and earned a B-, which was "a lower grade than he expected." McDougal allegedly "charged into the classroom while other students were there" on February 27 and was "removed by security officers and then returned and ran around the room."

McDougal charged the school with "negligence, emotional distress, assault, battery and false imprisonment," claiming that he had withdrawn from the class and tried to get reinstated. After being told he could finish test questions for reacceptance to the class, McDougal alleges that "he was told to stay outside the room until the class finished. McDougal was taken away by security officers, who slammed him to the ground and pepper sprayed him." He was barred from the campus that March by a restraining order. That same month, he was arrested and imprisoned "based on a suspicion that he carved a swastika and a racial slur into two Orange Coast College security vehicles, and slashed their tires." McDougal's parents further claim that "the college failed to accommodate their son despite knowing his disability."

Prosecutors allege McDougal violated the restraining order multiple times by returning to campus. He is facing felony vandalism charges and misdemeanor charges of disturbing a public school, remaining on campus without consent, resisting a public or peace officer, and disobeying a domestic relations court order in connection to the incidents, according to court records.

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