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Oklahoma State University looks to expand confidential reporting system to other campuses after policy change

by Silas Allen Published: March 6, 2013
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Those changes came at the recommendation of a task force the board assembled to examine regents policy, as well as policies at each institution in the system, in the wake of the sex abuse scandal at Penn State University.

The original aim of the task force was to make sure the policies in place would prevent a situation like the one at Penn State to happen in Oklahoma and recommend changes where they were needed.

But after questions arose about the university's handling of a series of alleged sexual assaults at OSU, university President Burns Hargis asked the task force to review the university's response to that situation. The board then hired Dallas-based attorney James Sears Bryant to conduct that review and make policy recommendations.

Former OSU student Nathan Cochran, 22, is accused of groping male students while they slept. OSU officials suspended Cochran last year for violations of the university's sexual misconduct policy, but didn't contact police, citing concerns over the Federal Education Rights Privacy Act, commonly known as FERPA.

Stillwater police opened an investigation Dec. 7, after a reporter from the OSU student newspaper contacted the department with questions about the alleged incidents. That investigation began three and a half weeks after OSU officials became aware of the matter.

The Bryant report concludes OSU officials' response to the allegations was “misguided” and that officials misinterpreted FERPA when they claimed it prohibited them from calling police.

The report also concludes that university officials didn't break any law in not contacting police about the allegations.

NewsOK.com has disabled the comments for this article.
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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