OSU Expands Task Force To Review Handling Of Sexual Battery Allegations

Thursday, December 13th 2012, 5:48 pm
By: News 9

The president of Oklahoma State University has called for a comprehensive investigation into the university's handling of allegations involving a student accused of sexual misconduct.

Former OSU student Nathan Michael Cochran is charged with three counts of sexual battery after three victims came forward to file complaints.

The University's handling of the case has been questioned since the allegations first became public last week. Officials are accused of waiting 18 days to notify police. The University has defended their decision saying the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) prevented them from releasing student records. However, a clause in FERPA does state institutions can go to authorities if there is potential criminal activity involved.  

12/12/12 Related Story: OSU Student, Former Frat Member Charged With Sexual Battery

"The seriousness of this matter warrants a focused and full investigation into how it was handled by the University," President Burns Hargis said. "We treat sexual misconduct incidents among students at OSU as a violation of the student code of conduct, involving confidential on-campus hearings."

President Hargis has asked OSU/A&M Board of Regents Chair Andy Lester to have a task force review the handling of the situation involving Cochran. The task force was set up this summer to conduct a comprehensive review of policies, practices and procedures related to sexual misconduct in the wake of the Penn State scandal.

In response to President Hargis's request, Lester said the task force will include a thorough review of the handling of this particular incident.

"As I said when we formed the task force, we have an absolute responsibility to review our policies in the aftermath of Penn State," Lester said. "We will do so in a constructive manner, ever mindful of the sensitivities and concerns of victims; but, it is also our obligation to expeditiously protect our students and community from those who are found to threaten our society with sexual misconduct."

The university has said there were as many as five alleged victims. The reported assaults did not take place in the fraternity house, according to court documents. Affidavits filed in the case say two young men claim Cochran sexually battered them while they were asleep.

Cochran was a member of the FarmHouse fraternity at OSU. He was also elected Secretary of the Inter fraternity Council in 2012, according to a cached version of the IFC's website.

"The recent incident should not reflect negatively upon the FarmHouse fraternity at Oklahoma State. FarmHouse is a widely respected organization on our campus. For more than 60 years, FarmHouse has been a vital part of the Oklahoma State University community, producing many student and community leaders as well as consistently earning top awards for academics. It is an outstanding organization."

On Thursday, a judge ordered Cochran back for a December 19 bond hearing. He remains jailed on a $100,000 bond.

12/13/2012 Related Story: Oklahoma State Student Charged With Sexual Battery Appears In Court