To investigate the misreporting of donor data and allegations of sexual misconduct against former OU President David Boren, the University of Oklahoma paid more than $1 million to the international law firm Jones Day, which produced a pair of reports about the concerning situations.
As of this date, OU has released neither report publicly, despite interest among taxpayers and donors and requests from media and an alleged victim of Boren’s unwanted sexual advances.
As a result, NonDoc filed a lawsuit Thursday in Cleveland County District Court asking a judge to order OU to release the Jones Day reports owing to overwhelming and compelling public interest in what occurred at the state’s flagship public university.
Our organization is not litigious in nature, and this is not an action we take lightly. However, the seriousness of the alleged misconduct and lingering questions about what the state-funded investigations found are too important for us to ignore.
The sexual misconduct allegations against David Boren — which led to his full resignation from OU — and the financial reporting problems of his former administration are both chapters of Oklahoma history that currently are being kept secret. The public deserves to know what happened, why it happened and how state leaders can avoid repeating these issues at OU and other institutions of higher education.
Relevant facts and circumstances
In this effort, NonDoc is being supported by attorney KatieBeth Gardner and the Reporters Committee for the Freedom of the Press, a nonprofit organization that provides pro bono legal representation, amicus curiae support, and other legal resources to protect First Amendment freedoms and the news-gathering rights of journalists.
Prior to filing our lawsuit (embedded below), Gardner sent a letter to OU’s legal counsel, open records office and all current members of the OU Board of Regents asking that they reconsider the denial of our May 1, 2019, request for the Jones Day reports, made under authority of the Oklahoma Open Records Act.
That request was denied June 12, 2019, in an anonymous email from the OU Office of Open Records that said the Jones Day reports were “confidential” pursuant to three statutes in the state’s Open Records Act and that “the university will not undertake a search for records that would not be released even if they exist.”
A criminal investigation by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation into Boren and former OU Vice President Tripp Hall concluded in October 2020 when appointed special prosecutor Pat Ryan announced by email that he had “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.”
That vague and markedly non-transparent conclusion only underscores the necessity for OU to release public records that can help explain what happened. Neither Ryan, nor former Attorney General Mike Hunter, nor current OU President Joe Harroz, nor members of the OU Board of Regents have provided the public with the “relevant facts and circumstances” of the alleged wrongful conduct. But those facts and details are at least partially included in the Jones Day reports.
As a result, NonDoc stands firm in its support of the public’s right to read the Jones Day reports and learn what university-hired investigators found at Oklahoma’s largest institution of higher education.