(Editor’s note: The following article details an allegation of sexual assault.)
While stating that he starts every review of a case by “believing the victim,” Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn has declined to pursue charges after a woman filed a police report alleging that now-former University of Oklahoma lobbyist John Woods sexually assaulted her.
“This was an incident where he made a couple of advances toward her. She successfully pushed him away, and under that scenario that just doesn’t rise to the level of criminal charges,” Mashburn said. “We always start by believing the victim. In this case, there is no evidence to not believe her statement. It just doesn’t rise to the level of a criminal case.”
Mashburn said he reviewed the Norman Police Department’s completed investigatory report but did not speak to Woods or Anissa Scott, who filed the complaint with NPD on Aug. 7. (Scott also sought and received an emergency protective order against Woods in Cleveland County District Court, dismissing the request four weeks later when she said she no longer felt she needed it.)
Woods’ attorney, Steve Stice, said he provided an NPD detective with a statement but that Woods “did not have a direct interview with Norman police.”
“We were in communication with them, and we provided what they asked for,” Stice said. “We fully expected that charges would not be forthcoming. We maintain that the allegations were false and that we appreciate the investigation by Norman police and the district attorney’s office and their decision.”
Scott also said she respects Mashburn’s decision and stands by the statement she provided Norman police.
“I felt it was my duty to report the incident that took place on July 27 to the appropriate authorities, and I will continue to stand by my statement given to the Norman Police Department,” Scott said. “I respect the decision made by Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn, as his decision does not negate the facts of the case.”
Norman Police Department public information officer Sarah Jensen said NPD’s completed investigatory report — turned over to Mashburn for review — is a private document.
“The complete investigatory report is not available as it is not a law enforcement record available for public inspection based on the Oklahoma Open Records Act due to the nature of the case and type of record requested,” Jensen wrote in an email.
Jensen provided the intake “case report,” which was filed Aug. 7. The case report listed the incident type as “sexual assault or offense” and listed the alleged offense description as “sexual battery,” which is defined in statute as “the intentional touching, mauling or feeling of the body or private parts” of anyone age 16 or older.
“At approximately 08:23 hours I was dispatched to a sexual assault report in the police department lobby,” an officer wrote in the case report. “On arrival I spoke with the reporting party and based on the information given, this case is being completed. One suspect has been identified. No arrest has been made at this time.”
In her Aug. 6 application for the protective order, Scott wrote that Woods had “sexually assaulted” her in a parking lot, then sent her a video of himself masturbating, and subsequently added her to a “group chat” and introduced her as someone “who likes it rough and wanted to join the group.”
Scott statement to NPD details encounter
In her written statement to Norman police — provided to NonDoc and detailed here for the first time — Scott said she and Woods had been “close friends for over a decade.”
Scott wrote that, after attending a funeral and working out July 27, she agreed to meet Woods at a bar where they both drank two beers. Scott said Woods indicated he had been drinking previously and “confided in me about some of his recent personal sexual experiences” before asking if she “would be willing to join as a participant.” Scott wrote that she “declined and reiterated that there will never be anything physical between us.”
“I have told him dozens of times,” she wrote.
Scott said Woods walked her to her car and got in the front seat under the auspices of looking for and showing her “a picture of the new car he ordered.”
“After he shows me the picture, he tries to kiss me,” Scott wrote. “I was in shock and laughed. I rejected his advance by putting my right hand on his left shoulder and attempted to push him away. He tries a second time to kiss me and again I pushed him away.”
Scott wrote that she stopped laughing.
“Then he grabs my hair by my ponytail and forcible jerks my head down as he starts to put his weight on top of me trying to kiss me again,” she wrote. “At this point I’ve said at least twice, ‘What the fuck John, stop!’ But, he continues to try to pull me under him as he tries to get on top of me in the driver seat.”
A trained competitor in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Scott wrote that her martial arts skill kicked in.
“I reverse the situation. Using a jiujitsu techniques, I have both of my hands (crossed) on his shoulders, get a ‘cross face grip’ then push him back to the passenger seat. I add pressure to cut off the blood flow to both of his carotids,” Scott wrote. “I am now above him and push all of my weight into him as he is still trying to advance towards me. His face turns red and he looks at me and stops advancing. I released him. He looked at me and said, ‘Fuck you’re strong, you could have choked me out.'”
Scott wrote that she “agreed” with Woods’ assessment and that she jumped out of her car and went to open the passenger door.
“He got out of my car and tried to put his hands on me again,” she wrote. “I responded by grabbing his right wrist to get his hand off me, spun him around (by pushing his wrist towards his left hip) spun him around, so I was behind him. I put him in a position called ‘rear naked choke’ and applied just enough pressure on his neck to take control of the situation, then I pushed him away. I then got back in my car and drove off.”
At that point, Scott said Woods sent the masturbation video and added her to the group chat. She wrote that Woods contacted her the next day “on two different platforms,” and that she told him he “crossed so many lines.” Scott wrote that Woods apologized before she blocked him “from all platforms,” which she later said resulted in the deletion of the video and group chat records. (Stice said he and Woods “don’t think [the electronic communications] exist.”)
In her application for the protective order, Scott said she was contacted by Woods’ wife multiple times Aug. 4 seeking details of the alleged assault. Scott wrote that she considered it a form of harassment. Scott’s statement to Norman police did not mention Woods’ wife.
Stice: Woods is ‘ready to move on from this’
Woods, who resigned from his job as OU’s director of government affairs on Aug. 20, deferred comment to his attorney, Stice, who emphasized that his client said Scott’s allegation was “false” and that the situation was “frustrating.”
“I can tell you from my conversation with my client, he is ready to move on from this,” Stice said. “He appreciates the work of Norman (police) and the district attorney’s office, and he was extremely frustrated with allegations, as well as those that were lodged against his wife. I think that was extremely frustrating.”
Stice also said that “having to let the legal process work its way through was frustrating” for Woods, a former CEO of the Norman Chamber of Commerce.
“He followed my advice, and this was the result that we expected,” Stice said. “We don’t have to provide a defense if there’s no crime. The DA’s office and the police reviewed the evidence that they had, and they made their decision.”
On Sept. 2 after Scott had dismissed the protective order against Woods, Stice alluded to what might have been a portion of Woods’ defense had Mashburn decided to file charges.
“I have two binders full of text messages. I have videos,” Stice said Sept. 2. “There is other evidence in this case that would have come to light had she taken the stand.”
During his employment at OU, Woods reported to Anil Gollahalli, vice president and general counsel for the university. Upon learning of Scott’s allegation, Gollahalli conducted an internal investigation, according to Mackenzie Dilbeck, OU’s vice president of marketing and communications.
Gollahalli told NonDoc on Sept. 20 that neither he nor the university heard from Norman police during their investigation.
“So we made the public statement that we were happy to help,” Gollahalli said. “I think they did their internal investigation. But we didn’t get any outreach from the Norman PD to my knowledge.”
Gollahalli said his investigation revealed no information that he was obliged to provide to police or Greg Mashburn, the district attorney.
“It seems like it has resolved itself. Obviously from an employment law standpoint, the university has closed its inquiry and considers the matter resolved,” Gollahalli said. “At least what I’ve seen in the press (…) it seems like — without having talked to the individuals involved post our initial conversations with them — it sounds like it’s resolved from their perspectives as well.”
OU did respond to an open records request from NonDoc seeking all text messages sent and received by Woods “in the course of conducting business” from July 27 through July 29. Two text exchanges were provided involving OU officials. Both dealt with state legislators being interested in the OU Board of Regents’ July 30 vote to join the Southeastern Conference.
Scott: ‘Please speak up’
Mashburn said he did not know why the Norman Police Department declined to contact OU regarding the university’s internal investigation of its employee.
“I don’t know what all conversations went on between Norman PD and OU,” Mashburn said. “We don’t usually get involved with people’s employers on criminal accusations, so that’s not something we would have done.”
Scott provided NonDoc with a Sept. 1 email communication between herself and the Norman police detective who investigated her allegation.
“Can you tell me if other victims have come forward?” Scott asked. “Has OU reached out on anything they found in their investigation?”
The detective responded one minute later: “No other victims. And OU never shares their information.”
Scott told NonDoc that she filed her report with law enforcement and has spoken publicly on the matter because she wants those affected by sexual misconduct to feel empowered to “speak up.”
“I would like to encourage any person that has been a victim of domestic violence or sexual assault of any kind, please speak up and reach out to the YWCA hotline for assistance and resources,” Scott said. “One resource I would personally recommend is for women to inquire about martial arts or self-defense training.”
Mashburn said his office tries to “fight for justice” on sexual misconduct cases.
“We take each case as it comes in, and like I said we start by believing the victim, and sometimes it ends up where we can have a filable case, and unfortunately sometimes it doesn’t,” Mashburn said. “But we take each case on its own merits, its own facts and its own circumstances. We try to fight for justice on them. That’s kind of how we operate.”