OSU president calls for investigation into how sex assault complaints were handled

Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis is calling for an investigation into how sex assault complaints were handled after a 22-year-old student was charged with sexual battery.
From Staff Reports Modified: December 13, 2012 at 8:53 pm •  Published: December 13, 2012

— Oklahoma State University President Burns Hargis called for an investigation Thursday into the way the school handled sexual assault complaints involving a student accused of groping male students.

That student, Nathan Cochran, 22, was charged Wednesday with three counts of sexual battery in a case police first learned about on Dec. 6 through the university's student newspaper.

The school learned of the complaints on Nov. 12 but handled the case as an academic matter and never notified police. The school ultimately decided to suspend Cochran, beginning Friday. School officials have said that federal privacy laws led them not to report the case to police.

Hargis has asked that Andy Lester, chairman of the OSU/A&M Board of Regents, conduct the investigation through a task force that was set up over the summer to review policies regarding sexual misconduct in the wake of the sexual misconduct scandal involving former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky.

Hargis said the school must clear up questions on how Cochran's case was handled “and if warranted, amend and strengthen our policies and procedures while abiding by federal laws.”

“We cannot and do not tolerate sexual misconduct,” Hargis said. “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.”

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