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Oklahoma Senate bill would require university officials to notify police about sexual assault

BY SILAS ALLEN Published: January 28, 2013

The author of a bill requiring college and university officials to call police when they learn a student has been sexually assaulted says the bill wasn't prompted by recent events at Oklahoma State University.

But OSU officials “would be wise” to jump on board with the measure, Sen. Tom Ivester said.

Ivester, D-Elk City, said he has been working on the bill since last summer, before a series of sexual assaults at OSU came to light, but the measure would have applied in that case.

The idea for the bill came from a constituent who, in the wake of the sex abuse scandal that rocked Penn State University, was concerned about how college campuses handle sexual assault cases.

Senate Bill 312 would require any employee of any public college or university in the state to notify the police or sheriff in the area when he or she learns of a sexual assault or violent crime involving a student.

The bill also requires schools that have campus police departments to enter into mutual aid agreements with local law enforcement agencies to investigate cases of sexual assault or violent crimes, and requires campus police officers to notify local law enforcement when they learn of cases of sexual assault or violent crime.

Ivester said he has been in contact with Oklahoma higher education leaders, including OSU Vice President and General Counsel Gary Clark, about the proposal.

OSU spokesman Gary Shutt confirmed Clark had discussed the issue with Ivester.

“We regularly discuss campus safety with state leaders, and we appreciate any efforts that support a safe campus environment,” Shutt said.

OSU incidents

Former OSU student Nathan Cochran, 22, faces four counts of sexual battery in Payne County involving three incidents occurring between Nov. 3, 2011, and Aug. 15, 2012.

A man told police Cochran groped him while he was asleep Nov. 3, 2011, according to court documents.

A second man told police Cochran groped him on Aug. 15, 2012, while the man was asleep in Cochran's dorm room. The man told police he went to the bathroom and Cochran sent him a series of panicked text messages, according to court documents.

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