OSU defends actions
Gary Clark, the university's vice president and general counsel, said during a conference call on Wednesday that the act prohibits them from releasing the names or information of victims and witnesses in the case.
Included in FERPA is a provision that says the act doesn't prohibit an institution from contacting police to ask them to investigate possible crimes.
But Clark said that provision doesn't override the requirement that the university protect the identities of the victims. University officials could have given Cochran's identity to police immediately after the hearings concluded on Nov. 30. Officials decided not to report that information because they didn't think it would be useful to police, Clark said.
“What would the police be able to do with that information?” Clark said. “Nothing, as far as I can tell.”
Dickerson has said he wished somebody would have notified police of the matter earlier, and delays in such notification can harm criminal investigations.
Clark said he thinks the university's handling of the situation has been unfairly criticized in the press. OSU officials contacted alleged victims repeatedly, encouraging them to call the police, Clark said. None of the alleged victims were interested in involving the police at the time, he said.
“The press has tried to indicate we tried to hide something,” he said. “It's not our place to try to force them to do something they don't want to do in this regard.”
Although they became aware of the alleged assaults last month, university officials never notified police about the incidents.
Stillwater police learned of the alleged assaults Dec. 6, after being contacted by a reporter from the OSU student newspaper. The school first learned of the case on Nov. 9.
What would the police be able to do with that information? Nothing, as far as I can tell.”
OSU's vice president and general counsel, about the university's decision not to tell police the identity of the man now charged in multiple sex assaults