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David Boren spokesperson denies any inappropriate behavior, calls sexual harassment investigation a ‘fishing expedition’

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David Boren

Former OU President David Boren at his birthday celebration in April 2018. A spokesperson for Boren denied apparent allegations of sexual harassment against Boren. 

A spokesperson for former OU President David Boren denied Boren acted inappropriately or unlawfully during his tenure at the university after The Oklahoman reported Boren was being investigated by the university for sexual harassment against male aides.

Bob Burke, an attorney and spokesperson for Boren, said in a statement he has not been made aware of the complaint against David Boren. Boren, 77, served as OU president from 1994 to 2018, and was previously a U.S. senator and governor of Oklahoma.  

“I have been told that President James Gallogly has in the past few months commissioned the Jones-Day firm to investigate several people,” Burke said. “I have not been given a complaint or summary of any complaint against President Boren. To date, Jones-Day has not accepted our invitation to meet to talk about the matter. Jones-Day has been paid nearly $300,000 in taxpayer money and still won’t agree to even talk to President Boren’s counsel.”

Burke said Boren, who is on a sabbatical from teaching at OU this spring, denies any wrongdoing.

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

University spokesperson Lauren Brookey emailed a statement saying the university had a legal obligation to investigate some allegations of misconduct. Brookey did not specifically tie the investigation to Boren or specify what type of misconduct was under investigation.

“The University of Oklahoma received allegations of serious misconduct that it was legally obligated to investigate,” Brookey said. “The University retained the Jones Day firm to conduct an independent investigation, which is ongoing at the current time. Appropriate individuals will have an opportunity to be interviewed during the investigation.”

Burke said the investigation is “not an objective search for truth,” mentioning previous reports of conflict between Boren and current OU President James Gallogly.

“It is a fishing expedition,” Burke said. “It has been widely reported that the current OU president threatened to destroy President Boren. I hope this leak of a possible inquiry is not part of any agenda to smear President Boren’s good name.”

The university contracted Jones Day previously to investigate misreporting of donation information. At the time, OU General Counsel Anil Gollahalli said the final report from that specific Jones Day investigation would not be made public.

During his 1978 campaign for U.S. senator, after public accusations from his opponent that he was gay, Boren swore on a bible that he was not bisexual or gay.

“The statement is utterly ridiculous and categorically untrue,” the Washington Post reported Boren saying at the time. “It is a shame that a person has to be subjected to this kind of personal attack in order to try to serve the public. I particularly resent the statement because it reflects upon the reputation of my wife, my children and my family as well as myself.”

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