PSU sex abuse suspect claims he was 'in a trance' during attack - KPTV - FOX 12

PSU sex abuse suspect claims he was 'in a trance' during attack

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PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A registered sex offender charged with attacking a Portland State University student told police he had a sex addiction.

An attorney entered not guilty pleas for Nate Wheeler Wednesday afternoon. He is charged with two counts of first-degree sex abuse for the June 8 attack.

According to court documents, Wheeler told police who arrested him, "In the elevator, when I decided to touch her, it was like in a bubble, in a trance. Sex addiction."

Wheeler is accused of following the young woman from a MAX train into Neuberger Hall on the PSU campus.

According to a probable cause affidavit, the student spotted Wheeler sitting near her on the MAX and recognized him when he got onto the elevator with her, stopping the doors from closing with his hand.

The woman got a bad feeling and tried to position herself near the elevator call buttons, then Wheeler grabbed her, court documents state.

She began screaming and tried to fight Wheeler off. He ran off when the doors opened, according to court documents.

"She is incredibly brave and went through a terrifying ordeal," said the student's mother, who asked FOX 12 to withhold her name in order to protect her daughter's identity.

She said she is proud of her daughter for trusting her gut, remaining alert and remembering details about Wheeler's identity, which helped investigators find the suspect on TriMet surveillance video.

After surveillance images of the suspect were released, police got a tip that Wheeler was involved.

They arrested him early Tuesday morning at his home in Portland's Forest Heights neighborhood.

Wheeler was arrested on charges of third-degree sex abuse and delivery of a controlled substance (marijuana) to a minor in 2001, while he was a substitute teacher at JB Thomas Middle School in Hillsboro.

Wheeler was convicted on those charges, as well as charges of invasion of privacy in 2006 and failing to register as a sex offender in 2012.

He is being held in the Multnomah County Jail on $500,000 bail. His next court appearance is June 20.

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