OSU creates task force review of sexual battery incident

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Updated: 12/13/2012 4:30 pm Published: 12/13/2012 3:10 pm

Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis called for a comprehensive investigation into the handling of a sexual battery incident by the University.

The District Attorney in Payne County charged former OSU student Nathan Michael Cochran with three counts of sexual battery Wednesday night after three victims came forward to file complaints.

“The seriousness of this matter warrants a focused and full investigation into how it was handled by the University,” Hargis said. “We treat sexual misconduct incidents among students at OSU as a violation of the student code of conduct, involving confidential on-campus hearings. As was the case here, students who bravely came forward knew they would have a private and safe environment in which to report allegations of sexual misconduct against another student. I cannot say enough about the students who came forward to participate in the hearings. They did the right thing and I personally commend them. And I am also appreciative that University officials involved in the hearings repeatedly urged the students to contact the police.”

Hargis continued, “Nevertheless, questions remain and we have an obligation to clear up any ambiguity, and if warranted, amend and strengthen our policies and procedures while abiding by federal laws. We cannot and do not tolerate sexual misconduct. In that regard, the task force set up by the OSU/A&M Board of Regents affords us a timely opportunity to take a deliberate and comprehensive review of the handling of this specific incident. We cannot leave any doubt that we are indeed properly and appropriately handling sexual misconduct allegations, and we must determine if we need to amend our policies and procedures to more effectively and efficiently handle these types of matters in the future.”

President Hargis has asked OSU/A&M Board of Regents Chair Andy Lester to expand a task force already conducting a comprehensive review of policies, practices and procedures related to sexual misconduct to include a review of the handling of the recent situation.

Lester said the task force will include a thorough review of the handling of this particular incident. “As I said when we formed the task force, we have an absolute responsibility to review our policies in the aftermath of Penn State. This is a very serious matter, and I applaud President Hargis for calling on the task force to include it in our review. We will do so in a constructive manner, ever mindful of the sensitivities and concerns of victims; but, it is also our obligation to expeditiously protect our students and community from those who are found to threaten our society with sexual misconduct.”

Hargis also released this statement about the Farmhouse Fraternity:

“The recent incident should not reflect negatively upon the FarmHouse fraternity at Oklahoma State. FarmHouse is a widely respected organization on our campus. For more than 60 years, FarmHouse has been a vital part of the Oklahoma State University community, producing many student and community leaders as well as consistently earning top awards for academics. It is an outstanding organization.”

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The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of KOKI FOX23 - Tulsa

Unwashed Mass - 12/14/2012 2:56 PM
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A "task force" is not a substitute for a timely and honest investigation.
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