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OU community denounces domestic abuse, publicizes fundraiser for student survivor

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A Norman Police Department squad car sits outside the police department March 31, 2018. 

Editor's note: This article contains descriptions of domestic violence. Free resources are listed at the end of the article if you or someone you know is a victim or survivor of domestic abuse. 

Several OU organizations have issued statements of support for a student who was admitted to the hospital last week after suffering severe injuries from an incident of domestic abuse. 

OU junior Gage Ford was booked into the Cleveland County jail Friday after being accused of repeatedly abusing his girlfriend, OU freshman Ally Stephens. Stephens is pregnant, and Ford was allegedly trying to kill the unborn baby, according to a News 9 article. Stephens told News 9 the baby is healthy.

Ford has since posted bail and is no longer listed on the Cleveland County jail roster as of Oct. 26, according to OSCN and Cleveland County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Joy Hampton.

According to the Oklahoma State Courts Network, Ford has been charged with domestic assault and battery by strangulation, and domestic abuse with a prior pattern of physical abuse.

OU groups including the Student Government Association and two greek life chapters have spoken out to raise awareness of domestic abuse and support ongoing fundraisers for her recovery.

Stephens’ sorority, Alpha Chi Omega, is currently raising money for Stephens to help with medical bills. The sorority acknowledged Stephens’ abuse in an Instagram post publicizing the fundraiser.

“We write this post with mixed emotions. We are heartbroken at what has happened to one of our members, Ally,” the post read. “Yet we could not be more proud of the kind, courageous, brave and strong woman she is.”

Alpha Chi Omega said their chapter hopes Stephens’ story and the fundraiser will help drive further change regarding domestic abuse. Oklahoma was ranked third in the nation in 2018 for the per-capita rate of women killed, with 97 percent of victims personally knowing their killer, according to the Violence Policy Center. 

“Our philanthropy is domestic violence awareness. Ally’s story is why we so fiercely believe in our cause,” Alpha Chi Omega said in the post. “We can inform, teach and guide. We can be the creators of change. We stand with all the women who have ever gone through any form of domestic violence. And we stand with our sister Ally.”

SGA released a statement Saturday in support of Stephens and calling for better treatment of women on campus.

“Hear me when I say: Womxn at the University of Oklahoma deserve better,” Justin Norris, SGA president, said in the statement. “We all deserve better but we must be willing to do better for one another and our community.”

Norris said in the statement he hopes OU’s Interfraternity Council will denounce domestic violence and lead proactive discussions.

“As the perpetrator was previously a member of the OU IFC, it is my hope the appropriate leadership will work to not only denounce assault and abuse in their many forms, but also to facilitate active discussions to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future,” Norris said in the statement.

Norris also urged OU students to come together to support Stephens.

“When something affects one of us, it affects all of us.” Norris said in the statement. “We must be willing to come together and strengthen in the face of injustice, if not for ourselves, then for Ally.”

Ford’s former fraternity, Kappa Sigma, released a statement on the incident Saturday.

“The perpetrator has not been involved as a member for the last eight months,” Kappa Sigma said in the statement. “When we were made aware of the situation, we held an emergency meeting and voted unanimously to remove him from our organization immediately.”

The fraternity also said in the statement it supports Stephens in taking legal action against Ford.

According to the OSCN, Ford was arrested in early October for abuse against his girlfriend where he kicked her in the stomach and choked her, Stephens said in the News 9 article. On Oct. 8, a Cleveland County judge dismissed a protective order Stephens had filed against Ford.

The Cleveland County district attorney’s office requested the bond to be $30,000 according to News 9; however, Judge Scott Brockman issued a $1,500 bond, according to OSCN. Ford then made bail in early October and was released.

Stephens was checked into the hospital Oct. 17 with multiple severe injuries, according to the News 9 article. As of 1:30 p.m. Friday, Ford was in the custody of the Cleveland County Sheriff’s office.

The Daily has reached out to IFC and the university for comment, and this article will be updated when further information is available.

For more information on reporting student, faculty or staff issues related to gender equity, harassment, sexual assault or misconduct and domestic violence, community members can visit the Sexual Misconduct Office’s website, email smo@ou.edu or call 405-325-2215.

Community members can also contact the 24-hour reporting hotline with reports of bias, discrimination, harassment or misconduct. The hotline can be reached at 844-428-6531. 

The Women’s Resource Center in Norman provides 24-hour hotlines for survivors of sexual violence and domestic abuse, and offers free, specialized services for victims of stalking, domestic abuse and sexual violence. More information can be found at wrcnormanok.org.

Additionally, OU Advocates is a confidential advocate and referral resource for sexual assault or misconduct issues for students, faculty or staff that can be contacted through their website or anytime at 405-615-0013.

Editor's note: This article was updated at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 26 to reflect Ford was released from custody after posting bail.

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