A University of Oklahoma student filed a lawsuit against former OU Vice President Tripp Hall this afternoon three days before a statute of limitations deadline, according to his attorney.
The student, Andrew Wisdom, becomes the third man to make public claims of sexual misconduct against Hall and the second to file a civil lawsuit.
Wisdom’s allegations are also part of a criminal probe from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. In September, OSBI applied for a search warrant and received access to information from Hall’s personal email account regarding his communication with Wisdom.
“As you know, the grand jury has not finished their work on this matter, so we didn’t really have much of a choice but to go ahead and file,” said Rand Eddy, an attorney representing Wisdom. “He has been through a rough time. He is a really good kid. Very smart, intelligent, and this has been a very big event that he has had to deal with in his life.”
OSBI affidavit: Tripp Hall being investigated for rape by Tres Savage
Rand Eddy is the father of Jess Eddy, an OU graduate and former university employee who has publicly alleged sexual misconduct by Hall and former OU President David Boren.
Rand Eddy also represents Levi Hilliard, an OU graduate and employee who has alleged sexual misconduct by Hall and has sued Hall and the OU Board of Regents.
“I believe 100 percent in my son, and I believe 100 percent in Levi Hilliard, and I 100 percent believe Andrew Wisdom,” Rand Eddy said. “This kind of behavior cannot stand, and there needs to be some redemption and some compensation.”
Represented by Tulsa attorney Clark Brewster, Hall denied Hilliard’s allegations in his response to that lawsuit in July. Reached Monday afternoon, Brewster said he had not reviewed Wisdom’s lawsuit, which was also filed in Cleveland County District Court.
“From what you just told me, apparently this person came over to Mr. Hall’s home,” Brewster said. “So I don’t know anything about the specific facts being alleged.”
Lawsuit: ‘At no time did plaintiff consent’
In his lawsuit (embedded below), Wisdom, 21, claims that he met Hall, whose legal name is Jim, during the fall of 2017 in a reading group at the OU Honors College. The suit claims Wisdom and Hall’s “relationship grew to one of a personal nature” through 2018. Hall’s OU employment was terminated Nov. 1 2018.
“Through the guise of mentorship and friendship, (…) Hall maliciously manipulated [Wisdom] into believing the relationship was appropriate,” the lawsuit states. “Under these pretenses, [Wisdom] sought counsel from [Hall] and shared personal information.”
The suit claims Hall sent Wisdom a text message inviting him to Hall’s house for tea and that Wisdom went to Hall’s residence the next day.
“[Wisdom] went to [Hall’s] house on Jan. 9, 2019, and [Hall] performed oral sex by placing [Wisdom’s] penis in [Hall’s] mouth for a prolonged period of time,” the filing states. “At no time did [Wisdom] consent to engaging in a sex act with [Hall].”
The lawsuit claims Hall committed sexual assault and battery and seeks damages “for the emotional and physical pain and suffering” and to reimburse medical costs.
Rand Eddy said his client did not want to speak publicly at the moment.
“He has had a rough time with it,” Rand Eddy said.
Rand Eddy: Patterns are ‘powerful evidence’
Wisdom grew up in Perry, and his Facebook page notes that he started at OU in 2016 as a math major pursuing computer science and Portuguese minors. His page says he began a job in 2017 as a janitorial maintenance worker at the Oklahoma Memorial Union on OU’s Norman campus.
“On assault and battery, which is an intentional tort, the statute is one year from the incident,” Rand Eddy said.
As a result, he said Wisdom’s civil lawsuit had to be filed before the conclusion of OSBI’s criminal investigation, which is ongoing. The September OSBI search warrant return noted the state’s top law enforcement agency received 518.9 megabytes of material from Hall’s Google email account, which could equate to more than 5,000 emails.
According to the OSBI search warrant application, Wisdom told criminal investigators that he met Hall in 2018 and visited Hall’s house in January 2019. From the affidavit filed by OSBI Lt. Elizabeth Green:
[The student] tried to tell Hall about a medical incident he incurred over winter break, and Hall offered [the student] a massage. Hall said “don’t worry, you don’t have to say anymore.” Hall said he would stop when it went too far, and for [the student] to say “stop” or “no” then he would stop the massage. [The student] felt like he could not tell Hall “no”, even though Hall said to tell him when to stop. [The student] felt like he was on some sort of substance.
In Wisdom’s lawsuit filed Monday, no mention of a “substance” is made.
“We’ve pled the actual allegations that we feel 100 percent we can prove,” Rand Eddy said. “We just felt that the evidence supported very strongly the allegations we have in the petition. There are always ancillary issues in cases, and that’s just something that will have to be determined in court.”
Rand Eddy said the public should recognize that three former or current OU students have now alleged sexual misconduct by Hall.
“My experience trying cases is that pattern and practice that can be proven is some of the most strong evidence there is,” Rand Eddy said. “It’s powerful when the same thing or similar acts happen to more than one individual committed or perpetrated by the same individual. It is very powerful evidence.”
Brewster, who represents Hall and Boren, said the only pattern he sees is litigious.
“I don’t see a pattern of a perpetrator,” Brewster said. “I see a pattern of a lawyer who wants to stretch credulity and file lawsuits.”
Under criminal investigation, Boren supported by friends
The OSBI began its criminal investigation of Boren and Hall in late March while OU was conducting its own investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by Boren. During OU’s investigation, Jess Eddy initially denied wrongdoing by Boren before deciding to speak to the Norman Police Department and NonDoc against the wishes of attorneys representing the university.
Ultimately, OU provided its internal report — prepared by the Jones Day law firm — to OSBI agents in May 2019. Weeks later, the university released information to Jess Eddy that referenced “Six Witnesses” who spoke to Jones Day attorneys about allegedly inappropriate interactions with Boren.
In recent weeks, three friends of Boren have written letters to the editor of the Norman Transcript praising Boren’s tenure at OU and describing the allegations against Boren as coming “from a single individual.”
Former Oklahoma State Sen. Cal Hobson (D-Lexington) called the sexual misconduct allegations against Boren a “ridiculous injustice” and a “nightmare.” Hobson was responding to a letter written by Michael Mares that also supported Boren.
“Boren was banished from the campus he helped develop after a very small president — who served less than a year — tyrannized the best president OU ever had. He belittled Boren’s accomplishments and damaged the institution,” wrote Mares of Boren’s successor, former OU President Jim Gallogly.
Mares is director emeritus of the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History, the location of one instance of sexual battery alleged by Hilliard against Hall.
From Hilliard’s lawsuit:
On Feb. 17, 2018, during a university event at the Sam Noble Museum — Norman, Oklahoma — [Hall] was visibly intoxicated. During the event, [Hall] approached the bar where [Hilliard] was working. [Hall] proceeded to consume wine directly from an open bottle that was being used for pouring glasses of wine for guests. [Hall] then walked around behind the bar where [Hilliard] was working, approached him and leaned in for a kiss on the cheek. [Hilliard] leaned away. [Hall] then used his hands to pull [Hilliard] closer and forcefully kissed [Hilliard] on his neck. As [Hall] walked away, he said, “Yeah that’s the stuff.”
(Correction: This article was updated at 11 p.m. Monday, Jan. 6, to correct a parenthetical reference in a quote from the Wisdom lawsuit about the performance of oral sex.)