SAN JOSE -- The San Jose State student accused of being the ringleader in the relentless hazing of his black roommate pleaded not guilty Monday to misdemeanor hate-crime and battery charges.
Logan Beaschler, 18, of Bakersfield, faces up to a year in county jail if he is convicted in last year's alleged hazing, which has sparked tremendous anger in the community and on the diverse campus. The 6-foot-tall man with dark hair appeared in court wearing a blue, button-down shirt, but his attorney spoke for him.
Three other young men -- Joseph Bomgardner, 19, of Clovis, Colin Warren, 18, of Woodacre, and an unidentified juvenile -- have not yet entered pleas.
The hazing took place last fall in a suite of a campus dorm, according to reports by police and housing officials obtained by this newspaper.
The defendants are accused of displaying a Confederate flag, writing a racial slur on a dry-erase in the living room, repeatedly locking the then-17-year-old victim in his room and clamping a U-shaped bicycle lock around his neck.
Officials said the hazing began with nicknaming the black student "Three-fifths,'' referring to the way the government once counted blacks as just a fraction of a person. When he protested, they dubbed him "Fraction."
Beaschler's lawyer, Chuck Mesirow, asked Judge Ronald T. Lisk on Monday to waive his client's $15,000 bail and allow him to remain free on his own recognizance.
But Lisk denied the request. The other two adult defendants also are out on $15,000 bail. The juvenile proceedings are sealed.
All four have been suspended from the university.
Mesirow said in a phone interview that Beaschler still is awaiting final word from the university, but expects to be expelled. Expulsion would bar him from enrolling at another California State University campus.
He urged people not to typecast his client, saying Beaschler was the only white player on his former soccer team in Bakersfield and that his family is "far from being racist.''
"We apologize, and we're very ashamed of this,'' Mesirow said, speaking for the family.
But Mesirow said the incidents were part of a broader series of pranks that included others in the dorm. Some of the participants apparently were motivated by a desire to be "edgy,'' not racially offensive.
"I'm not defending these insensitive, stupid acts by immature young men,'' he added. "But I don't think anyone (who knows Beaschler) thinks my client was racist.''
San Jose State also has set up a task force to investigate the incident and hired Mike D. Moye, a prominent black San Francisco lawyer with experience handling sensitive issues, to conduct an independent review and produce a report.
The report is due Jan. 30. Campus officials have said it will be posted online immediately.
Retired Judge LaDoris Cordell, who now serves as the city's police watchdog, will oversee the task force. The group's report is expected in April.
University officials announced the convening of the task force last year after student protesters demanded action from school leaders who were also under fire for tabling a study that found racial and ethnic groups on campus felt they were experiencing prejudice.
The university has not released the names of any task force members.
Contact Tracey Kaplan at 408-278-3482. Follow her at Twitter.com/tkaplanreport