AP NEWS

Boren’s attorney describes university probe as ‘persecution’

February 14, 2019
FILE - In this Sept. 20, 2017 file photo, University of Oklahoma President David Boren, a former Democratic governor and U.S. Senator, speaks at a news conference in Norman, Okla. An attorney for the former University of Oklahoma President says Boren denies any inappropriate behavior during his more than 20 years at OU and described a university probe as a "character assassination." A university spokeswoman confirmed late Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2019, the Jones Day law firm has been retained to conduct an investigation after OU received allegations of "serious misconduct." (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An attorney for former University of Oklahoma President David Boren said Thursday Boren denies any inappropriate behavior during his more than 20 years at OU and described a university probe as a “character assassination.”

The Jones Day law firm was retained to conduct an investigation after OU received allegations of “serious misconduct,” but university spokeswoman Lauren Brookey did not say whether Boren was a target of the probe.

“The University of Oklahoma received allegations of serious misconduct that it was legally obligated to investigate,” Brookey said in a statement. “Appropriate individuals will have an opportunity to be interviewed during the investigation.”

The Oklahoman newspaper, citing unnamed sources, reported that the investigation involved Boren. The Associated Press was not able to confirm that.

Boren, 77, is one of the most prominent politicians in Oklahoma, a Democrat who served as a governor and U.S. senator before being named OU’s president in 1994, a post he held until stepping down last year amid health concerns.

Boren’s attorney, Bob Burke, said he was unaware of any formal complaint against Boren and that he and his co-counsel, prominent Tulsa criminal defense attorney Clark Brewster, have tried unsuccessfully for months to meet with the lead investigator for Jones Day.

“We’ve been in the dark the whole time,” Burke said.

In a statement, Burke described the investigation as a “character assassination.”

“This is not an objective search for the truth. It is a persecution,” Burke said.

“Even though we have received no complaint, President Boren emphatically denies any inappropriate behavior or unlawful activity. He has been a dedicated public servant for more than 50 years and his life is an open book in Oklahoma.”

Boren’s successor at OU, James Gallogly, has been critical of university spending and debt levels under Boren’s tenure, and his first day on the job he fired about one-third of the top-level executives that report directly to the president.

Burke said Boren, who suffered a minor stroke last year, was not in good health and unable to comment.

“This whole situation has been very detrimental to his health,” Burke said.

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