OSU task force recommends new rules to keep students safe after OSU sexual assault

STILLWATER, Okla. - Oklahoma State University "misinterpreted" its sexual assault reporting procedures when they failed to contact authorities of a student's suspected behavior, but did not break any laws, according to the findings of an OSU task force.

The task force, which released its report Monday, recommended the school implement six new policies to improve student safety.

The force was actually formed after last year's high-profile sexual abuse case at Penn State, but OSU President Burns Hargis requested it be expanded to include the case surrounding Nathan Cochran.

Cochran, a former interfraternity council secretary is charged on four counts of sexual assault after reports were filed that he sexually assaulted men in their sleep.

"OSU did not violate any state or federal laws in their handling of the matter, nor did they violate any of their own policies or procedures," said James Bryant, special counsel for the Oklahoma A&M Board of Regents. "However, during discussions with the media they incorrectly asserted the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) didn't allow them to report these alleged incidents until internal hearings were concluded.  FERPA clearly allows reporting of potential crimes at any time."

Key recommendations mentioned by the task force are requiring institutions to implement policies protecting minors during any events on university property.

The force also suggested each institution be mandated "promptly notify appropriate law enforcement officials of any allegations of sexual assault, and to retain an independent advocate for victims of alleged sexual assault."

Said Hargis of the task force's report: "I appreciate the work of the Board of Regents and the task force.  We look forward to quickly implementing policy recommendations that the board approves. This administration is fully supportive of any changes and enhancements that will make our campus safer."

The board will decide on the proposed changes March 1.

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