Despite paying at least $500,000 for a private law firm to investigate allegations of misconduct by former OU President David Boren, university officials and the Board of Regents’ attorney are declining to say whether they have turned over the report to the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.
OSBI is conducting a criminal investigation of Boren and former OU Vice President Tripp Hall based on allegations made by Jess Eddy, Levi Hilliard and other individuals whose names have not been publicly reported so far. Oklahoma’s top law enforcement agency is receiving help from the state’s multi-county grand jury, for which Attorney General Mike Hunter appointed former U.S. Attorney Pat Ryan as a special prosecutor.
At an April 26 OU Board of Regents meeting, Chairwoman Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes said she did not know if a copy of the Jones Day report about Boren had been turned over to OSBI.
“I would have to check with our legal counsel,” she said.
Before today’s meeting, McAfee & Taft attorney Drew Neville confirmed he was representing the OU Board of Regents, and OU General Counsel Anil Gollahalli left the executive session to sit with other university officials in a nearby room.
Neville said he “legally” could not comment on whether the board or university had turned over the Jones Day report to OSBI or whether OU had received a subpoena seeking the report from the state’s multi-county grand jury.
Hunter communications director Alex Gerszewksi said the Attorney General’s Office also cannot say whether a subpoena has been issued for the Jones Day report.
“Unless directed by the judge overseeing the multi-county grand jury, state statute prohibits information presented in grand jury proceedings from being made public,” Gerszewski said. “Individuals who reveal information which they are sworn to keep secret will be in contempt of court.”
After today’s latest board and committee meetings, regents broke for dinner shortly before 6 p.m.
Rainbolt-Forbes reiterated that she did not know whether the Jones Day report had been provided to OSBI.
A message left for Ryan was not returned by the publication of this story. Richard Smothermon, OSBI legal counsel, declined to comment.
Jones Day report could be considered ‘work product’
At question is whether OU would waive its attorney-client privilege with Jones Day, as the law firm’s report could legally be considered “work product.” That means even a subpoena from Ryan and the state’s multi-county grand jury seeking the Jones Day report could be denied by the court if opposed by OU.
“I absolutely believe the university should do everything to support the OSBI and grand jury investigations, including turning over any materials that were discovered or were products of the Jones Day investigation,” Eddy said while waiting outside of today’s board meeting. “If they do not, I would see that as a continuation of a pattern of university practices to protect itself — the institution — and not to act in the interest of victims of misconduct.”
Of particular concern to OU and its governing board could be whether the Jones Day report might enter any criminal prosecution as evidence. If it did, the report could potentially be used in any civil cases resulting down the road. If OU declines to make the Jones Day report available to OSBI or the grand jury, the university would have a better chance to shield it from discovery in civil suits.
Eddy said he believes university students, faculty, staff and donors deserve to know that OU is supporting — not impeding — the OSBI criminal investigation.
“I have every interest in mind for the truth to be available to the public and to the victims,” Eddy said. “It’s important because I, others, our stories and our credibility has been attacked by Boren and his attorneys.”
Eddy, whose father is of counsel with the employment law firm Mulinix, Goerke and Meyer, said regents should recognize how difficult it is for victims to speak to anyone about their experiences.
“It’s hard for victims to come forward, and they need to know that if they want a form of justice, then the university is here for them — that it’s going to put their needs above the institution’s needs as a whole,” Eddy said.
Boren sought regent meeting, alleged victims critical of request
Wednesday morning, Nolan Clay of The Oklahoman reported that Boren had requested to meet with the regents during their meetings this week.
“President Boren would like to directly and fully address the reckless course of conduct being pursued to shamelessly and falsely dishonor Oklahoma University and Mr. Boren’s period of service and history of accomplishment to OU,” Tulsa attorney Clark Brewster told The Oklahoman.
Late Wednesday, OU released a statement that “the executive sessions or special meeting of the OU Board of Regents held this week will not include David Boren or his attorneys.”
Eddy, an OU graduate and former employee who has accused Boren of kissing him and touching his butt, told media that he felt Boren’s request to meet with regents was inappropriate.
“I have been asking for and have been denied a meeting with the Regents for nearly a month now. In light of this, that Boren would be given this opportunity to meet with the Regents privately in executive session would be — in addition to a breach of Title IX policy — an unconscionable act,” Eddy said in a statement. “It would and does reek of conspiracy and cover-up. Fear of this is why I reported my story and other crimes to law enforcement prior to OU’s attorneys with the Jones Day law firm.”
Hilliard, an employee of the University Club restaurant, also released a statement.
“There is documented evidence of David Boren and Tripp Hall being in contact in regard to the investigation, and thus I have no confidence that anything spoken of in such a closed session would remain confidential,” Hilliard said. “For these reasons, I cannot find any justification for why David Boren should be allowed into a closed executive session, especially while myself and other victims have been denied access to such meetings and have also been denied access to the findings of the law firm Jones Day.”
Board Chairwoman Leslie Rainbolt-Forbes released her own statement.
“The Regents have taken exceptional measures to ensure a thorough, independent, fair, confidential, and impartial process that recognizes the seriousness of the allegations and respects the privacy of affected individuals,” Rainbolt-Forbes said. “We will preserve the integrity of the process by continuing to adhere to university policies and the law, and we remain firmly committed to doing the right thing.”