Did ORU Security Fail To Report Suspected Child Abuse?

Wednesday, August 25th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Here's a follow up to a story the News on Six broke on Tuesday night's
Six o'clock broadcast. Police are investigating whether an Oral Roberts University security officer broke the law by not reporting a suspected case of child abuse.

ORU admits a young boy reported some sexual incidents last May. Reports show the boy told his dorm leader, who then told a campus security officer about the alleged incidents. The News on Six has now learned that a security officer made a written report of the incident and had a supervisor sign it. Police would not tell us the name of the supervisor because the investigation is currently ongoing.

In a statement the university told crime reporter Lori Shell, "The security department did not feel it rose to the level of a crime and thus did not call the Tulsa Police Department." According to reports, the suspect went into the dorm room and exposed himself and touched himself in front of the young boys. The second time, the report says, he actually fondled one of the boys. Oklahoma law says anyone, be it a regular citizen, doctor, lawyer, or even a priest who learns about suspected abuse must report it. "If someone comes in and confesses or a child says he's been the victim of abuse, we need to know," said Tulsa police Sergeant Pat Calhoun. "Because we still have the pattern going on and still have the suspect out there."

Police say Avery Lawson has confessed to molesting five boys, the latest one at the end of July. Failing to report suspected abuse is a misdemeanor and if it can be proved, ORU security could be charged with the crime. But the district attorney's office says it too early in the investigation to know whether that will happen.

When the 13-year-old victim from July came forward, campus security called police immediately. Each of the incidents, including the ones in May, happened to teenage boys who were attending summer camps on the ORU campus. The university won't say if it has plans to take any disciplinary action. Campus security officers actually tracked down Lawson and got his initial confession. But what surprised police is that the school just expelled Lawson, but didn't also detain him.

Tulsa police detectives would like to know if there are any more victims or witnesses to these crimes. If you can help, call a detective at 596-2824.