Transient man allegedly grabs preteen waiting for parents

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — A 39-year-old man from a Bellingham homeless encampment is accused of grabbing or slapping a preteen on their buttocks while they waited for a ride after softball practice.

After 6:30 p.m. on March 2, police were called to the 1700 block of Express Way for a report of a possible sex crime.

When officers arrived, they were told a child under 12 years old was leaving practice and was waiting for their parents to pick them up. Just before the child got into their parents’ car, a man walked up and slapped or grabbed the child’s buttocks with his hand, according to a police report.

The incident was reportedly witnessed by others, who told the police.

The man, later identified as Brent Oakley, was taken into custody while he was walking on the sidewalk next to an illegal encampment at Fraser and Puget streets, police said.

According to Bellingham police, Oakley denied the assault and was booked for investigation of fourth-degree assault.

Police are asking the prosecutor’s office to file charges with sexual motivation.

This was not the first time Oakley has had an encounter with officers. In late February, Oakley was arrested after getting in a car that was not his and breaking the windows, resulting in damage estimated at $1,000, according to police. He faces third-degree assault, second-degree vehicle prowl and third-degree malicious mischief charges.