OSU hires outside adviser for sexual assault investigation

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Updated: 1/03/2013 5:18 pm Published: 1/03/2013 10:47 am

The OSU/A&M Board of Regents hired a higher education attorney to assist in their investigation into OSU’s internal handling of a recent student sexual misconduct.

That investigation led to charges being filed against a male student by three other male students for sexual battery.

James Sears Bryant is a former prosecutor and district judge and led an independent investigation into a high profile sexual assault case for the Board of Regents at the University of Iowa in 2008. He works in the Dallas office of the national law firm, Wilson Elser.

Regent Chair Andy Lester said, "I have known Mr. Bryant for more than 30 years. I am familiar with his work both from having practiced law with him and from following the investigation he led in a sexual misconduct matter at the University of Iowa. He has an excellent reputation for his diligence, thoroughness and integrity. Not only did he earn a Juris Doctorate from Southern Methodist University, Mr. Bryant also earned a doctorate in higher education from the University of Pennsylvania. His knowledge, expertise and experience in higher education law will greatly benefit us in this examination."

"The Board of Regents is committed to gathering and understanding the facts and circumstances surrounding the recent matter. We believe the surest path to obtain an objective understanding of the handling of recent student misconduct allegations is to give Mr. Bryant broad, independent latitude to help us conduct the review requested by OSU President Burns Hargis. Mr. Bryant's knowledge of applicable federal and Oklahoma law will help us understand the facts and identify what changes in our policies and procedures, if any, are warranted. As regents, we are united in our desire to have comprehensive, responsive and decisive policies and practices at the institutions we govern."

The announcement was made as part of the steps taken to fulfill a request by OSU president, Burns Hargis, who called for a task force previously established by the OSU/A&M Board of Regents to conduct an investigation of OSU's handling of recent sexual misconduct allegations.

Regent Chair Andy Lester pledged to complete a thorough and comprehensive investigation into the matter.
"The decision by the board of regents to engage an independent adviser experienced in reviewing university sexual assault policies underscores the serious nature of this matter. I applaud the regents' hiring of an independent adviser to conduct a thorough and objective review, and can assure you our university will cooperate," commented Burns Hargis, President at Oklahoma State University.

Regent Tucker Link, who chairs the task force, said, "Sexual assault is an egregious crime, and we will not tolerate it. On a personal level, I hope the examination communicates to students we desire an environment where they can safely report misconduct and violators are swiftly held accountable."

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