(Editor’s note: The following article details an allegation of sexual assault.)
While the criminal investigation into her sexual assault allegation against now-former University of Oklahoma lobbyist John Woods remains active, Anissa Scott today asked a Cleveland County judge to dismiss the temporary protective order granted against Woods on Aug. 7.
“As a direct result of the incident on July 27, I experienced a flood of emotions and mental overload, in part due to past trauma that I have experienced in my life,” Scott said in a statement provided to NonDoc after the hearing. “When I was before the court on Aug. 7, I was terrified and wanted to make sure that Mr. Woods would not continue to contact me. Since such time, I have been seeking counseling and no longer have a working relationship with Mr. Woods. I am currently not concerned about retaliation, nor am I concerned about my safety.”
Woods, who did not attend Thursday’s court hearing, resigned from OU on Aug. 20, the same day that news broke about the temporary protective order, which Judge Nathaniel Hales granted to Scott on Aug. 7.
Scott filed a police report and wrote in the protective order application that Woods sexually assaulted her in a parking lot July 27, subsequently sent her a video of himself masturbating and then added her to a group text, saying she “likes it rough and wanted to join the group.”
Scott, who has known Woods for years, said she used her Brazilian jiu-jitsu training in response to the assault and that Woods did not stop “until I nearly rendered him unconscious.”
Woods’ attorney, Steven Stice, said he has advised his client not to comment on the matter and that he believes Scott “is reluctant to take the stand and have to tell this story under oath.”
“Her allegations are of video tapes and text messages and those types of things,” Stice said. “To this date, we haven’t seen them. We don’t think they exist.”
Scott said the masturbation video and the text messages certainly did exist but that she “deleted everything and blocked him from my entire phone” in the initial aftermath of the alleged assault, which she said is the real matter at hand.
“I don’t even care about the text messages. It’s the assault. The assault is the thing that bothers me,” Scott said. “The events that happened afterwards were just mind boggling, but the assault itself is the reason why we are here.”
Had Scott asked to continue the protective order Thursday, any remarks she made to the judge could have been subject to cross examination from Stice, but Woods would not have been required to attend or answer questions. Scott said she did not want to jeopardize the criminal investigation.
“When someone puts their hands on me and I tell them ’No’ and they continue to force it, that’s the reason that brought me here,” Scott said.
OU: ‘The university has not been contacted’ by law enforcement
Where the criminal investigation stands depends on whom you ask, and neither the Norman Police Department’s public information officer nor Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn returned calls Thursday seeking clarification prior to the publication of this article.
Scott said it is her understanding that the NPD detective investigating the case has turned information over to Mashburn’s office for a decision on whether to file criminal charges.
Stice said he believed NPD had not yet turned the case over to Mashburn.
“It will be, and I’m sure Mr. Mashburn will review it in light of all of the evidence that does or does not exist,” Stice said.
Asked whether Woods had been interviewed by Norman police, Stice was non-committal.
“I’m not going to comment right now on whether he has or has not right now as far as the investigation, as far as the criminal side,” Stice said. “We are cooperating with law enforcement.”
Asked whether Woods was interviewed by OU investigators before he resigned, Stice replied: “I don’t believe that there were OU investigators.”
On Aug. 20, OU Vice President of Marketing and Communications Mackenzie Dilbeck said the university “immediately began an administrative investigation” after Scott alerted OU officials to Woods’ conduct.
“We learned of these concerning allegations that we take very seriously, so we immediately began an internal investigation of our employee,” Dilbeck said at the time, adding that OU’s investigation of the situation “is complete.”
Asked Aug. 20 whether OU’s investigation revealed additional allegations against Woods, Dilbeck responded: “I can’t comment on that.”
Scott said Thursday that she had reported the incident to OU officials but said she expected to speak with OU investigators in a follow-up conversation. She said that has not happened.
Asked Thursday about Stice’s and Scott’s statements regarding the extent to which OU investigated the situation, Dilbeck said both Woods and Scott spoke with university officials.
“The university’s investigation into the allegations against Mr. Woods was conducted by his supervisor’s office. Both Mr. Woods and Ms. Scott spoke with the officials conducting the inquiry,” Dilbeck said. “Following the conclusion of the university’s investigation, OU has no indication that any allegation with respect to Mr. Woods involved any university activity or individuals. OU has made it clear to local law enforcement that we remain available for cooperation as needed, but to date the university has not been contacted.”
OU had placed Woods on paid administrative leave Aug. 6 and he resigned 14 days later. Asked why Woods chose to resign if he did nothing wrong, Stice said he believes the decision was “personal in nature.”
“He felt that it was in his best interest with all of the things around his personal life,” Stice said. “He has a family, he has a wife, he has got children, and he loves the institution, and he doesn’t want to harm OU at all with what has happened with this situation.”
Woods previously worked for U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK4), the Oklahoma House of Representatives, the Norman Chamber of Commerce and the Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust.
‘Criminal allegations of a sexual nature’
Stice said Scott’s decision to voluntarily dismiss the protective order supports his client’s statement of innocence.
“I think today speaks volumes — her reluctance to take the stand and answer questions under oath. I think that speaks a lot to the veracity of her claims,” Stice said. “We’re going to have to now see how it plays out with the criminal charges, which to me are the most important aspect of what is left or what this whole situation is about.”
Stice said Scott “made criminal allegations of a sexual nature that didn’t happen.”
“And today, she had a perfect opportunity to present that and to present the video evidence that she said exists, that she wrote in her petition,” he said. “She had an opportunity to explain how Mr. Woods’ wife stalked her further, which she wrote in the petition (…) She had every opportunity to do that today, and she refused to.”
Attorney Liz George represented Scott during Thursday’s hearing, which would have determined whether to extend the temporary protective order the judge had granted under emergency circumstances.
“Our dismissal today is in no way a retraction of the original allegations that gave rise to the original emergency order,” George told the court. “I just want to make that clear that it’s just a voluntary dismissal without regard to the original VPO that was legally granted.”
After Thursday’s hearing, Scott provided NonDoc a prepared statement she had considered reading in court.
I originally sought and received an emergency protective order when I presented testimony to the court on Aug. 7 about the underlying assault as well as the subsequent contact with Mr. Woods and his spouse. As I testified to the court before, thankfully I was able to defend myself using my martial arts training.
However, as a direct result of the incident on July 27, I experienced a flood of emotions and mental overload, in part due to past trauma that I have experienced in my life. When I was before the court on Aug. 7, I was terrified and wanted to make sure that Mr. Woods would not continue to contact me. Since such time, I have been seeking counseling and no longer have a working relationship with Mr. Woods. I am currently not concerned about retaliation, nor am I concerned about my safety. Because of the actions I took on Aug. 7, I believe Mr. Woods understands and will no longer attempt to contact me further.
The emergency VPO provided the protection I needed to become mentally and physically stronger, and I am thankful to the court for giving me a voice at one of my weakest moments. The temporary VPO allowed me the strength to dismiss, as I no longer need a VPO, and I asked the court to dismiss the (protective order) case.”
George said that the parties had discussed the possibility of reaching “an agreed resolution” to the protective order, but that her client did not want to be silenced.
“There were discussions about trying to reach an agreed resolution from both parties’ perspectives,” George said, “but my client ultimately decided that she wanted to maintain control of it and she wanted it to be her dismissal completely voluntarily with no one telling her what to do.”
Scott said she has provided Norman police with as much evidence and detail about the events of July 27 as she can.
“I gave them all of my information. At this point, it’s not my expertise or knowledge of what law enforcement do or don’t do, and so I don’t want to try to sway (them) one way or another,” Scott said. “I was concerned about future victims, and so I wanted to make sure people know about the events that happened.”
Stice said he recognizes the difficult position OU faced when receiving a report of the allegation.
“Unfortunately, we live in a world where these accusations alone put institutions in a tough spot,” Stice said. “I think that the university should have waited until at least today or to see whether criminal charges were presented and accepted by the District Attorney’s Office before they placed him on administrative leave. I understand why they did it. They have to look after the integrity of the university, and I appreciate that.”