NonDoc suing OU for reports on Boren investigations

·2 min read

Jun. 12—Oklahoma-based nonprofit newsroom NonDoc media is suing the University of Oklahoma for records related to an investigation of former President David Boren that the university has refused to release for two years.

OU enlisted international law firm Jones Day in 2018 to investigate the misreporting of donor data and allegations of sexual misconduct against Boren. Jones Day was paid more than $1 million and produced a pair of reports detailing its investigations.

NonDoc is now suing to make those reports public.

"We are simply seeking the release of important documents that are clearly public records produced for and at a cost to a major public university," Tres Savage, editor-in-chief of NonDoc, said in a statement. "OU has paid Jones Day more than $1 million to produce these reports on serious topics: alleged sexual misconduct by one of the most powerful people in Oklahoma history, and financial misconduct by past university leadership."

The suit shows that when Savage originally requested the reports from OU in May 2019, the university claimed the reports contained personnel information that rendered them confidential. NonDoc is claiming that the university's refusal to search for and release records of public interest violates the Open Records Act.

A 2019 poll from SoonerPoll asked participants whether OU had "released enough details" about the findings of its internal investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by Boren. The organization found that 58.8% of poll participants thought OU "should release more" of the investigative report.

An OU spokesperson said the university is aware of the lawsuit and "will respond as appropriate," but declined to comment further, stating that "it's not the practice of the university to comment on pending litigation."

Should NonDoc receive the Jones Day reports, the public could, for the first time, access a detailed look at the investigation into Boren. In the two years since Jones Day's investigations concluded, the university has never released substantial information about any results or findings, leaving the public in the dark about the former president's alleged conduct.

Representing NonDoc in the suit is KatieBeth Gardner, an Oklahoma-based staff attorney for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

"The University of Oklahoma has provided no legitimate basis to withhold the requested records, and their insistence on shielding records of such great public interest is particularly concerning," Gardner said in a statement.

Read the full suit on NonDoc's website.

Reese Gorman covers COVID-19, local politics and elections for The Transcript; reach him at rgorman@normantranscript.com or @reeseg_3.

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