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Couple's lie led to DHS waiver

By Nolan Clay and Sheila Stogsdill Published: October 28, 2007
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said she lied to get out of trouble for being out late.

"She made all that up,” he said. "And she wrote it even down in a statement. ... She had to ... in order for them not to charge me with that crime.”

The girl initially said Bridges picked her up as she was walking about 8 p.m. July 7, 2005, according to a more detailed sheriff's incident report obtained by The Oklahoman. She reported, after buying alcohol, they drove around several country roads and Bridges repeatedly asked her for sex, touched her breasts and kissed her.

A DHS official on Sept. 13 wrote Bridges' wife, Melinda Bridges, to rescind the waiver. DHS acted after The Oklahoman told officials about the lie. Bridges said his wife has now closed the day care.

DHS Director Howard Hendrick said: "Obviously, this is one ... if the file had been checked ... we shouldn't have granted it. ... We relied upon the letter of the athletic director at Chouteau High School, I'm sure.”

Bridges was a volunteer assistant boys' basketball coach at the school.

Hendrick said the athletic director "says he's a great guy, that he's a professional and he's conducted himself in a professional manner.”

The athletic director, Phil Brumley, told The Oklahoman he wouldn't have written a reference letter for Bridges had he known about the criminal case.

"Yeah, I wouldn't have wrote anything,” Brumley said. "I don't know anything about it. I hadn't heard anything about it. ... I'd have a hard time believing that James would do that.”

Contributing: Staff Writer Randy Ellis

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