Report: OSU did not violate laws in sexual assault case

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Updated: 2/25/2013 3:47 pm Published: 2/25/2013 3:45 pm

An outside reviewer finds Oklahoma State University officials did not violate any laws in handling of sexual battery case.

On Monday, the Board of Regents released a report made by an outside special counsel that reviewed Oklahoma State University’s recent handling of alleged sexual misconduct by a student.

Nathan Cochran is charged with four counts of sexual battery, he's accused of molesting or trying to molest male students while they slept in a dorm room.

The special counsel report was commissioned in December 2012 after OSU President Burns Hargis asked the task force to assess OSU’s handling of the highly publicized sexual assaults.

The Regents employed outside special counsel, James Sears Bryant, to advise them during the process. Bryant’s review found OSU’s reporting of sexual assaults at the conclusion of internal misconduct hearings did not violate any state or federal laws.

However, Bryant found in responses to the media, university staff misinterpreted applicable federal laws regarding the reporting of sexual assaults.

“OSU did not violate any state or federal laws in their handling of the matter, nor did they violate any of their own policies or procedures. However, during discussions with the media they incorrectly asserted the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) didn’t allow them to report these alleged incidents until internal hearings were concluded. FERPA clearly allows reporting of potential crimes at any time,” said Bryant.

Bryant interviewed the complainants in the case and found they spoke of the concern, sensitivity and responsiveness expressed by the members of the student conduct office.

The Board of Regents for the Oklahoma Agricultural and Mechanical Colleges task force adopted two of Bryant’s recommendations.

They will require each institution to promptly notify appropriate law enforcement officials of any allegations of sexual assault and to retain an independent advocate for victims of alleged sexual assault.

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