STILLWATER — As an investigation into alleged sexual assaults at Oklahoma State University widens, a Stillwater police captain said Monday the failure of those involved to call the police could have hindered the inquiry.
But OSU officials say the university wasn't allowed to notify police of the incidents because of federal student privacy laws.
Stillwater police are investigating a string of alleged sexual assaults involving the FarmHouse fraternity at OSU. University spokesman Gary Shutt said OSU officials became aware of the alleged incidents on Nov. 12, but didn't contact police.
Shutt said the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, prohibits the university from contacting police in such cases.
University officials gave the alleged victims instructions on how to contact the police and encouraged them to do so.
None of the alleged victims notified police, he said.
Police opened an investigation into the alleged incidents Friday, after a reporter from the campus newspaper contacted the department with questions about the incidents, said Stillwater police Capt. Randy Dickerson.
That investigation began about 3 ½ weeks after OSU officials became aware of the incident.
Although he wouldn't speculate about whether this investigation had been hindered by the delay, Dickerson said investigations like this one are generally more successful if police can begin contacting witnesses, suspects and alleged victims early.
In a case where several people claim to have been the victims of possible felony sexual assaults, Dickerson said, he thinks someone familiar with the situation should have called the police.