Nathan Michael Cochran, a 22-year-old Oklahoma State University student and former FarmHouse fraternity member, was charged with three counts of sexual battery on Wednesday. Each charge carries a possible sentence of up to three years in prison. Oh, and they think he probably assaulted others, too, since the reason the cops know about the accusations in the first place is because The Daily O'Collegian, the campus newspaper, received an anonymous email earlier this month claiming that a former member had sexually assaulted more than 10 new fraternity members.
So far, police have enough evidence to charge Cochran with groping three male students after they had fallen asleep, both in a dorm and elsewhere in the area. One man who said he was groped while sleeping in Cochran's dorm room told the cops that Cochran texted him after, saying "Please I can't ruin my life cause I was black out drunk ... Just text me?"
The police only learned about the alleged assaults when a reporter for the school's student paper contacted them after receiving the anonymous email. What about the OSU administration? Oh, they had known about the accusations for quite some time; they just hadn't told the cops about it, because they decided to handle the case as an "academic matter" instead of notifying police.
Stillwater Police Capt. Randy Dickerson told the Stillwater News Press that he was "stunned" by Oklahoma State University's reasons for keeping the fact that five students had filed sexual misconduct complaints against Cochran under wraps. Was it because Cochran had a rep as a standup guy? He was a secretary for the university's Interfratenity Council and was involved in other extracurricular activities. But it seems more likely the OSU just completely mishandled the situation.
Officials say they kept quiet because the Federal Education Rights Privacy Act, or FERPA, prohibited them from notifying police. But FERPA doesn't prohibit a university from contacting police and asking them for help. According to The Daily O'Collegian, one school administrator, Gary Clark, said they didn't feel Cochran's identity would be "useful" to police. "What would the police be able to do with that information?" Clark said. "Nothing, as far as I can tell."
Ha. Right. Why would the name of a student accused of assaulting multiple peers be useful?
At any rate, now OSU President Burns Hargis is calling for a task force review to "clear up any ambiguity, and if warranted, amend and strengthen our policies and procedures while abiding by federal laws." Sounds like a good idea.
Image via Timothy Large/Shutterstock.