MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

December 11, 2012

Frat case prompts investigation

Stillwater, Tahlequah law enforcers gather evidence in sex case; OSU suspends student

By Russell Hixson
CNHI

— STILLWATER — A 22-year-old Oklahoma State University student has been found responsible for four sexual misconduct violations by a student conduct committee hearing panel. He has been suspended for three years. His suspension starts Friday, according to documents released Tuesday by the university.

The student was ordered not to have contact with any of the complainants.

The student hasn’t been arrested by law enforcement agencies and hasn’t been formally charged. CNHI News Service doesn’t publish the names of crime suspects until they are formally charged in court.

Sexual misconduct as described in the university’s Code of Conduct includes anything from sexual touching or exposure to forcible rape.

“Oklahoma State University followed all laws, including the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and policies while carrying out its student conduct process. The university acted responsibly and swiftly to take action on the allegations brought forward by students,” according to an Oklahoma State University statement. “The university’s thoughts are with the students involved and OSU appreciates the cooperation of the students who brought allegations forward.”

The university began hearings with the first of five complainants on Nov. 12 and all hearings and rulings were completed Nov. 30. All parties were notified of the hearing results Dec. 3, records show. They had until 5:01 p.m. Tuesday to appeal the results.

OSU officials encouraged victims to contact police following the start of the criminal investigation. At least two have.

Last week, Stillwater police learned about the allegations from an anonymous email to OSU’s student newspaper and have launched a joint criminal investigation with OSU police and Tahlequah police.

As the university released its findings and actions Tuesday, the criminal investigation involving three police departments began to gain steam.

“The facts that are coming forward at this time are that a suspect is alleged to have committed numerous sexual assaults on an, as of yet, undetermined number of young men,” Stilllwater Police Capt. Randy Dickerson said.

Some of these victims were members of FarmHouse fraternity, Dickerson said, but investigators have learned many are not.

Dickerson said the allegations so far indicate the lone suspect was acting independently to commit illegal acts on a number of victims. The incidents may have occurred in Stillwater, Tahlequah and on OSU’s Stillwater campus.

Dickerson released a statement Tuesday praising FarmHouse’s handling of the allegations.

School officials and police said when the fraternity learned of the accusations it immediately notified the Interfraternity Council.

“In no way did the fraternity condone these actions or contribute to them in any way that we are aware,” Dickerson said. “We will continue to work with OSU police while the investigation continues.”

Details also emerged in an assault that may have occurred outside of Stillwater. Dickerson notified Tahlequah police Monday that one of the assaults may have occurred in the city.

“Apparently an OSU student came home for a holiday break and brought another student with him to Tahlequah,” said Tahlequah police spokesman Brad Robertson. “While the two were here, there was an alleged assault. The victim is the person from the Tahlequah area, and the suspect in this investigation is the person [the victim] brought home with him.”

Robertson said the Tahlequah victim has not contacted Tahlequah police and is likely back in Stillwater. Investigators expect to receive a packet of information from Stillwater police.

Hixson is a reporter for the Stillwater NewsPress.

The Tahlequah Daily Press contributed to this report.