Students React To Lawsuit Against UCO, Sexual Allegations Against Theatre Professor

Wednesday, May 19th 2021, 7:33 pm
By: Ashley Holden

EDMOND, Oklahoma -

UCO students are upset at the University of Central Oklahoma’s lack of response to allegations about a theatre professor. 

Six women have filed a lawsuit against the university after they said Professor Karno Buss allegedly harassed them and, in one student’s case, maintained a sexual relationship. 

The lawsuit claims Buss admitted to some of the allegations and this had been knowingly going on for years.

It says Buss would choose a select freshman or two that he considered "favorites."

He would give the women special one-on-one coaching and invite them to trips where sometimes underaged drinking was involved and go out of his way to find them financial help.

News 9 spoke with three women not a part of the lawsuit but with very similar stories.

“I was very young and basically wanted someone in my corner,” said current UCO student Jaycee Criswell.

Criswell and Ivana Reynoso are going into their senior year. Both described closed door office visits, attempts to persuade them to go on trips, outside of class communication and bad experiences during rehearsal.

Sometimes it felt like I couldn't tell if he was tired or possibly drunk,” said Criswell.

"There's one scene in the show that he just insisted on directing himself and it’s the scene where me and another student that happens to be one of his favorites get half naked..." said Reynoso. 

She said he had her rehearse that every night.

Right now, we are just trying to get UCO to force Kato Buss out,” said Alyssa Moon. 

Moon is a former student who started a petition against Buss. She and Reynoso have also written to the university.

Moon told News 9 administrators have not responded to her. 

Action and response is something current students said they need. Criswell said she didn’t know if she would stay enrolled at UCO if Buss was still employed.

“Say something and fire him,” Reynoso said. “I want consequences.”

UCO did confirm Buss is still an employee.

The university released the following statement:

“UCO takes every allegation of sexual harassment seriously including the ones set out in the pending litigation regarding this faculty member. However, we are unable to provide any details or provide any specific response regarding this matter while the litigation is pending.”