The special prosecutor appointed to consider the investigation into alleged sexual misconduct by former OU President David Boren and former OU Vice President Tripp Hall has decided not to seek a grand jury criminal indictment against either man.
“The OSBI investigation of David Boren and Tripp Hall has concluded,” former federal prosecutor Pat Ryan said Tuesday, as first reported by The Oklahoman‘s Nolan Clay. “As the appointed acting [attorney general] for this investigation, I have made the decision, after considering all relevant facts and circumstances, to not seek a grand jury criminal indictment relative to Boren’s and Hall’s alleged wrongful conduct while they were employed by the University of Oklahoma.”
In March 2019, both Boren and Hall became the subject of an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation inquiry into allegations that they kissed, touched and otherwise pursued sexual encounters with OU students and employees. Boren was already being investigated by the Jones Day law firm hired by the university when NonDoc published a story detailing the allegations of Jess Eddy, a former classroom aide to Boren who said the former governor and U.S. senator came onto him multiple times, kissed him and touched him inappropriately.
Eddy said Hall also had touched him inappropriately, and a University Club employee named Levi Hilliard detailed multiple allegations of unwanted sexual advances by Hall. Another OU student also made allegations against Hall, and OSBI investigated him for rape, according to an affidavit.
The only publicly released portion of the university’s Title IX investigation about Boren — commonly called the Jones Day report — showed that “six witnesses” had described conduct by the longtime OU president consistent with Eddy’s story.
“The fact is David Boren preyed on young men at OU for decades. Many experienced much greater trauma than me,” Eddy said at the start of a lengthy statement distributed Tuesday afternoon.
‘The sun comes up’ for the Borens
Ryan was appointed acting prosecutor over the matter by Oklahoma Attorney General Mike Hunter, who recused himself owing to his office’s representation of OU and his office’s employment of Eddy’s mother, an assistant attorney general named Kindanne Jones.
Ryan, however, had his own connection to Boren. Ryan is a partner in Ryan Whaley Coldiron Jantzen Peters & Webber. The firm’s final surname refers to Dan Webber, a former congressional aide to Boren.
Ryan did not distribute his statement widely, but it was forwarded to NonDoc by Emma Keith of the Norman Transcript. Ryan did not return a voicemail left at his office, and Alex Gerszewski of the Attorney General’s Office said he would relay a request for interview to Ryan if he spoke to him.
“I want to personally thank the OSBI for their extraordinary efforts and for conducting a thorough investigation,” Ryan said to conclude the brief statement.
Clark Brewster, a Tulsa attorney who represented Boren and Hall during the investigation, also praised OSBI and Ryan.
“This saga and this anxiety and the hurt that it caused to the Borens is now over, and I’m very pleased with that,” Brewster said. “The sun comes up this morning for them and they are able to lead their lives like they should have with a degree of pride for what they’ve done for the University of Oklahoma and the state of Oklahoma.”
Brewster blames Gallogly, who pushes back
As he has done before, Brewster blamed the investigation on Boren’s successor, now-former OU President Jim Gallogly.
“This was truly a scathing attack by former president Jim Gallogly who, even before he became president of OU, had locked onto this mission to destroy David Boren,” Brewster told NonDoc. “He said it to others, he intended to carry it out, and he did carry it out.”
Informed of Brewster’s remarks Tuesday, Gallogly said the criminal defense attorney should know better than to make false statements.
“What would be in it for me?” Gallogly said. “There’s no benefit in any form or fashion to do something like that to Mr. Boren. It’s just a made-up story to discredit (the investigation).”
Gallogly said the timing of the anonymously sourced Transcript article — published Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018 — gives credence to his claim that it was false.
“On a Friday before that story broke early the next week, Mr. Boren was asked to leave the university by the legal department at the recommendation of Jones Day based on what they had found at that point in time,” Gallogly said. “I didn’t know what that was because I wasn’t a party (to the investigation).”
The former oil executive, who has donated millions of dollars to OU, said he was one of the few people who knew about the Jones Day law firm’s investigation was underway, but he said he did not learn the results until they were privately presented to the OU Board of Regents in April 2019.
Gallogly said he acted as a witness while an OU attorney called Brewster to inform him that Boren was being asked to leave campus and not return unless instructed to do so.
“That was done that Friday, and then that false story showed up on Tuesday in the press,” Gallogly said. “So you can do your own math and figure out whether that was true or not. That was a reaction to the fact there was an investigation. I simply never said those words. Never would I. It was never true, and it was false on its face.”
Gallogly said he wishes the OU Board of Regents would make the Jones Day findings public.
“If the results of the Jones Day investigation were known, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. You’d understand the whole situation better,” he said.
But Gallogly said he cannot personally describe the Jones Day report’s findings about Boren.
“I’m under confidentiality,” he said. “Before the regents would let me review the report, they put me under confidentiality, so I can’t describe what the report found.”
He said the OU regents will have to decide whether to release the Jones Day report to the public. (The university previously denied NonDoc’s open records request for the report by saying it was a personnel matter.)
“First, [the taxpayers] paid for the report. It is a public university, and they paid for the report,” Gallogly said. “As the regents said, the report was thorough. It took the Jones Day law firm hours to go through the findings of the report and the recommendations made by the Title IX officer, and as a result of that Mr. Boren is not allowed back on campus.”
Brewster said Boren agreed to terminate his entire relationship with OU “just to try to make some kind of peace with [Gallogly].”
Beyond the allegations of sexual misconduct, however, Gallogly said the public should have a right to review a prior report Jones Day produced regarding false financial reporting by top OU administrators to U.S. News & World Report.
Gallogly said he did not believe he signed a confidentiality clause about that report.
“The regents have chosen not to make that public, other than that there was a long period of time where there was false information given to U.S. News & World Report. It involved a number of senior executives at the university,” Gallogly said. “There were two parts to that. There was over half a billion dollars of gifts in-kind — software that were listed as cash gifts in our reporting. (It was) simply inaccurate and grossly, grossly overstated. And then the Jones Day report found that there were a number of senior administrators who had purposely filed misinformation with U.S. News & World Report over a period of decades.”
Regarding Tuesday’s announcement that Boren would not face charges, Gallogly said he had not heard the news but that he was unsurprised.
“There was an investigation that was required by law. The investigation had very significant findings, and the fact that it is not being criminally prosecuted is not a surprise,” he said. “The lawyers at the time said it probably never would be criminally prosecuted.”
Asked why attorneys believed that, Gallogly — an attorney himself — said “people would never want to bring their claims to criminal court” and that the burden of proof would be difficult to achieve.
Brewster: David Boren ‘is such a joy to be around’
Brewster said he was excited by Tuesday’s announcement because it would pave the way for Boren and his wife, former special district court judge Molly Shi Boren, to resume a more public life.
“He’s led a very public life. He’s sat on boards of literally multi-national corporations for years, and to have these accusations or attack made upon him, that obviously is very very hurtful and restricting because you don’t want to do the kinds of things you would normally have done if you weren’t under this cast of dispersions that diminish or damn your character,” Brewster said, also noting the pandemic. “They couldn’t really leave their home. They’re of the age that they are high risk. So a lot of things coupled to make David very cloistered in his daily life. I feel for that because he has so much to offer and he is such a joy to be around. (…) So I’m very happy for David and Molly.”
Asked if David Boren had spoken to federal investigators regarding his own investigation or any other criminal investigations, Brewster said he did not think so.
“I don’t think there’s been a federal investigation. I’m not aware of any, so I don’t believe there were any conservations with anybody in the federal system,” Brewster said. “Obviously David has been far removed from any kind of position in the state of Oklahoma as governor or in the Legislature — we’re talking decades. But no, he has not been interviewed by the federal authorities, whether that be the FBI or the U.S. attorney’s office, in connection with any investigation. But I can tell you that his directive to me is always to be fully transparent and cooperative, and he would be happy to speak about anything he knows in regard to any other investigation.”
Eddy criticizes other OU officials for silence
As it stands, Jess Eddy is the only former OU student or employee who has spoken publicly to allege sexual misconduct by Boren.
Eddy’s full statement distributed Tuesday appears below:
The fact is David Boren preyed on young men at OU for decades. Many experienced much greater trauma than me. After OU dragged me into their politically charged investigation into criminal conduct—an investigation that should have been conducted by law enforcement from the beginning—and Boren attempted to use me to vindicate himself, I realized the depravity of my predicament and the potential consequences for others. Justice for me was not an indictment but rather that the truth prevail and measures be taken at OU to ensure this never happens again. It was not for me to decide what justice was for anyone else. It was my commitment to, and I hope that the OSBI, Special Counsel, and Attorney General Hunter took every step to, ensure that all victims had every opportunity to have the justice they are so entitled to. If that end was met, much of my objective has been accomplished. Sadly, we have yet to see reform in the removal of all individuals who permitted and facilitated David Boren’s predation at OU. Today, President Joseph Harroz, General Counsel Anil Gollahalli, and Clarke Stroud maintain positions of power and influence at OU, and no student or employee is safe under their administration.
I want to thank members of the community who believed me and stood with me through the vicious attacks by Boren, his attorneys, and his supporters throughout this saga. And I want to give particular gratitude to the members of the media who, at great risk to their own careers and livelihoods, pursued the truth with courage and determination. I, finally, want to thank the Norman Police officer who received my complaint and the OSBI agent in charge of the investigation for their diligence and courtesy to me and, I’m sure, to others. The humane treatment in the darkest period of my life will never be forgotten, and I am grateful to you all.
OU director of media relations Kesha Keith released a statement shortly after the publication of this article.
“From the beginning, the university sought a thorough and objective investigation, cooperating extensively with the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation at every turn,” Keith said. “The university appreciates the work of the OSBI and of the grand jury.”
(Update: This story was updated at 2:38 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20, to include Keith’s statement.)