Oklahoma State University board hires outside attorney to assist with handling of sexual assault reports

Dallas-based attorney James Sears Bryant will assist a regents investigation into Oklahoma State University's response to reports of sexual assaults involving Nathan Cochran, a former OSU student who faces sexual battery charges. Bryant specializes in higher education and sports law.
by Silas Allen Published: January 2, 2013

Scope of the review

Lester said the board wouldn't know the cost of hiring Bryant until the scope of the review had been formalized and defined.

“While managing the costs associated with this review is critically important to the regents, we also desire to obtain the best qualified expert to advise us on this serious matter,” he said.“We are confident in Mr. Bryant and his ability to expedite a timely and efficient review.”

On Dec. 13, OSU President Burns Hargis called for an investigation into the university's response to the alleged assaults after OSU officials handled the reports as an academic matter rather than notifying police.

Hearing set

OSU student Nathan Cochran, 22, faces three counts of sexual battery in a case police first learned about Dec. 6 through the university's student newspaper. The allegations involve two male students who reported being targeted by Cochran after they had fallen asleep.

Cochran pleaded not guilty to all three charges Dec. 13. Cochran is free on $100,000 bail. He is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing Monday in Payne County District Court.

University officials learned of the assault reports Nov. 12, but they said concerns over federal student privacy laws led them not to share this information with police. Instead, they held conduct hearings resulting in a decision to suspend Cochran from the university for three years beginning with the end of the fall 2012 semester.

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by Silas Allen
General Assignment/Breaking News Reporter
Silas Allen is a news reporter for The Oklahoman. He is a Missouri native and a 2008 graduate of the University of Missouri.
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