As the criminal investigation into alleged sexual misconduct by former OU President David Boren and former Vice President Tripp Hall has grown, media have begun to seek soundbites and analysis from pundits.
With the public learning little new information at Friday’s OU Board of Regents meeting — other than alleged victims’ concerns about the Title IX Office and campus perception of mandatory reporting requirements — Oklahomans may find the following three media segments interesting.
Additionally, quotes from a previously unpublished interview with an OU LGBTQ Alumni Society member appear below.
Andy Coats: ‘I think it’s time to shut it down’
On the Sunday, April 21, episode of KFOR’s Flash Point, former OU College of Law Dean Andy Coats joined the show’s usual panel to discuss the recent report by Special U.S. Prosecutor Robert Mueller, who was investigating President Donald Trump.
In the third video segment embedded here and below, Coats is asked about the Boren investigation. His answer compared the Boren investigation to Mueller’s report on Trump, and he announced a personal belief about the three-week-old OSBI investigation: “I think it’s time to shut it down.”
“I love David Boren. I think his service to the state and the community is just beyond description,” Coats said. “He’s been a force for good in our state for so many years, and I don’t believe anything about this going on is the right thing to do, and I hope it gets over with pretty soon. They’re spending so much money on having the investigations, and things are tight at OU, and I think it’s time to shut it down and get on to something else.”
Moments earlier, KFOR anchor Kevin Ogle had asked Coats about Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter’s appointment of former U.S. Attorney Pat Ryan as a special prosecutor.
“It’s probably the right thing to do considering that the attorney general recused,” Coats said. “I know Pat Ryan very well. I have a high regard for him. He’s a very sensible guy, and I think they wanted somebody to do a little bit of what (U.S. Special Prosecutor Robert) Mueller is doing and saying, ‘This is not worth going forward or doing anything with.’ They need somebody that could look at it and evaluate it and say, ‘This is nonsense.'”
Coats also said he thought Ryan would be “fair” and would “decide whether it’s just a tempest in a tea cup or whether there’s anything there.”
Eventually, former OU Regent Kirk Humphreys asked Coats what he thought the OU regents should have done upon receiving a Title IX report outlining allegations of sexual misconduct against Boren.
“I think you can follow up and do some limited investigation,” Coats said. “To hire the firm that they hired — which is incredibly expensive — to go look at it is something I think maybe a little beyond what they needed to do. But you’d have to act to it. You’d have to listen, see what it was and see if it was believable and then decide what you needed to do from there.”
Michael Petrelis: ‘David Boren is the queer version of Harvey Weinstein’
Days later, News 9 reporter Grant Hermes interviewed a critic of David Boren, the self-described “proud queer advocate” Michael Petrelis. In 1993, Petrelis called a Washington, D.C. press conference to allege that Boren was the unnamed U.S. senator “who has engaged in same-sex sexual harassment of his gay staffers” as detailed in Michelangelo Signorile’s book Queer in America: Sex, the Media, and the Closets of Power.
In his new interview with Hermes, Petrelis summarized his opinion of Boren with a modern comparison.
“David Boren is the queer version of Harvey Weinstein,” Petrelis said. “He’s moved from powerful position to powerful position, up a ladder — methodically climbed a ladder — acquiring more power as he climbed that ladder, and allegations of sexual abuse exist for decades.”
Hermes’ piece also harkened back to Boren’s 1978 campaign for U.S. senator wherein then-governor Boren swore on a bible that “I am not a homosexual or bisexual” and “nor do I approve or condone them.”
Hermes connected that oath and Petrelis’s criticism to the difficult socio-political situation currently faced by members of OU’s LGBTQ Alumni Society, a subsidiary of the OU Foundation that raises money to support scholarships for LGBTQ students.
The alumni society operates a Facebook group wherein alumnus Tom Neal shared NonDoc’s original article concerning sexual battery allegations against Boren and Hall on March 27. In comments on the post, one man wrote: “My husband had a #metoo moment with Boren when he was a freshman. We hoped that it was just an isolated incident.”
Another wrote: “I witnessed a mini coke-fueled orgy in his house a LONG time ago – he actually wasn’t home, but his ‘houseboy’ was!”
On April 17, Neal posted a New York Times story about the appointment of Ryan as special prosecutor. He added:
Yo, LGBT+ alumni.
Do we have a position on this?
Great politician. Distinguished Oklahoman.
State Leg. Governor. US Senate.
My Wewoka Grandad knew his Dad…..
But if he systematically sexually targeted and abused young and vulnerable Oklahomans in the US Congress,
or on campus, does he get a pass? From us?
We need to say something…..
Neal’s statement received three likes but no comments. In an interview with NonDoc two days earlier, Neal explained the conundrum facing OU LGBTQ alumni.
“There’s always a fear that inappropriate behavior by a member of a minority community is going to taint the community as a whole,” said Neal, a Tulsa resident. “But at the same time, I also think that younger LGBTQ people — women, men, trans, everybody — should live in a safe place. Well, for that matter, straight guys could be interns and also be sexually harassed, right? Everybody should be able to be free of anything but the most neutral and well-intentioned interest from a figure of power. And there’s just no doubt that a senator or president of the university is a figure of power.”
Neal said that, despite not living in Norman and not being a significant member of the OU alumni community, he has been hearing controversial stories about Boren for “20-plus years.”
“If in the end there is an exoneration, praise be to God. But I’d just say that if I were a betting man — and I’m not — I wouldn’t bet on that result,” Neal said. “No orientation has a lock on bad behavior. (…) Bad behavior is bad behavior.”
Jess Eddy: Attorney’s presence ‘unethical’
At the end of Friday’s OU Board of Regents meeting, Boren and Hall accuser Jess Eddy walked into a lobby to tell board Chairwoman Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes that he was concerned by the presence of a specific McAfee Taft attorney in the meeting’s executive session.
KOCO reporter Christine Stanwood and photographer Chris Lee caught the end of the brief confrontation, asking Eddy why the woman’s presence upset him.
“They’ve got a new attorney that came to me in the confines of a personal friendship and asked me questions about this,” Eddy said. “Never revealed that she was working for the university who is now in that room. It’s unethical, it’s immoral.”
Stanwood reported that she reached out to the attorney for comment but did not receive a response.