OSU Regents Adopt Sexual Assault Policy Recommendations

Friday, March 1st 2013, 5:15 pm
By: News On 6

The Board of Regents for the Oklahoma A&M Colleges has adopted recommendations from a task force that examined Oklahoma State University's response to alleged sexual assaults on campus.

Regents adopted the report during a regular meeting Friday in Stillwater.

The task force was already looking into campus safety and security when an OSU student was arrested and later charged with sexually assaulting fellow students.

OSU was criticized for not immediately reporting the allegations when they first came to light in November. Stillwater police say they didn't learn of the case until Dec. 6 when contacted by the campus newspaper for comment.

The report released Feb. 25 says OSU officials were "misguided" in not reporting the allegations. The report made five recommendations -- including that any allegation of sexual assault be promptly reported to police.

2/25/2013 Related Story: OSU Task Force Reports On School's Sexual Abuse Response

A former prosecutor and district judge, James Sears Bryant, advised the Regents' special counsel during the investigation. Bryant's report found that OSU's reporting of the sexual assaults, after completing an internal misconduct hearing did not violate any state or federal laws. But, in public responses to the media, Bryant found that the university's staff did misinterpret federal laws regarding the reporting of incidents on campus.

OSU staff defended the delay in reporting the alleged sexual assaults, saying they could not notify police about incidents on campus because of a federal law called the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law that protects the privacy of student records.

Bryant's report concluded that was not the correct application of the law.

"OSU did not violate any state or federal laws in their handling of the matter, nor did they violate any of their own policies or procedures," Bryant said. "However, during discussions with the media they incorrectly asserted the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act didn't allow them to report these alleged incidents until internal hearings were concluded. FERPA clearly allows reporting of potential crimes at any time."