Serious allegations were leveled against the State of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.
A pair of lawsuits were filed by an alleged victim claiming law enforcement botched an investigation into a former high-level aide of Governor Mary Fallin.
That aide is Travis Brauer, 29, who is accused of taking an up-skirt photo of activist Sara Bana during a budget meeting at the state Capitol last May. According to a News9 source, Brauer was “out of control drunk” at the Capitol the night of the meeting, Brauer resigned from his position in July.
Bana and her attorneys alleged OHP was “unmotivated” to investigate Brauer because of his ties to Fallin, allowing him to avoid more serious charges in their criminal investigation.
“The manner in which this was handled was far outside the norm,” Bana’s attorney David Smith said. “[T]he only reason for it was because of who he was and where he was.”
A spokesperson for OHP declined to comment on the suits Wednesday afternoon saying they were “still looking into it.”
Fallin's spokesman released a statement after the lawsuit was announced, stating:
The governor’s office has not received a copy of the legal action. Once the Department of Public Safety notified the governor’s office of a complaint being made, we cooperated immediately and insisted that Mr. Brauer cooperate immediately. The Department of Public Safety conducted a thorough investigation and turned its findings directly over to the district attorney’s office. Criminal charges have been filed, and it’s a pending legal matter for the court system.
The lawsuits claim investigators waited 25-days before questioning Brauer and asking him to turn over his cell phone. The say it was enough time for him to delete posts on social media accounts and possibly the alleged photo. Brauer later told investigators he had dropped the phone in a lake.
Search records recovered from his laptop by investigators show Brauer searched ways to erase images from electronic devices. The four-month long investigation also revealed an hour-long gap on Brauer’s very active social media accounts that coincided with the time frame the alleged photo would have been taken.
Bana says she now fears for her life and it's forcing her to leave her home state for good.
“I felt like a third-class citizen going through this entire process,” Bana told reporters. “I felt like that my body, my privacy and my very dignity as a human being had been violated.”
The allegations against Brauer are the latest in a series of sexual misconduct accusations coming from the Capitol in Oklahoma. They also come amid an onslaught of accusations against powerful men in Hollywood and Washington D.C. Something her lawyers say is at the heart of the disturbing story.
“We feel that this event is a glaring signal of the pervasive pattern of sexual deviancy and harassment that exists at the highest levels of government,” Rand Eddy, Bana’s other attorney said.
Bana is asking for $175,000 in each lawsuit, the maximum amount of damages allowed under Oklahoma law. Eddy said there could be more legal action in the future if their demands for justice are not met.
Brauer has been charged with a felony offense of offering false evidence and a misdemeanor offense of destroying evidence. He pleaded not guilty and was released on bond.