EDITORIAL: OU needs to come clean about Jones Day investigation

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Jul. 13—Once again, the University of Oklahoma continues to thwart efforts by journalism organizations to hold the university accountable for its investigation into former President David Boren and former Vice President Jim "Tripp" Hall regarding sexual assault allegations.

The university has filed a protective order against NonDoc Media for the news organization's efforts to make the university search and release information and reports from Jones Day law firm regarding the investigation into the two former administrators.

Jones Day investigated Boren and Hall for sexual assault at the behest of the university. The Oklahoma State Bureau of investigation took the lead into criminal allegations, yet decided not to indict Boren or Hall.

Still, there are many questions that need to be answered. The investigation also included allegations that the university misrepresented donor data.

Boren resigned from teaching duties and cut ties with the university. And OU paid about $1.5 million to Jones Day to conduct the investigation.

The question remains: Does the university owe the taxpayers transparency about how that money was spent and what relevant data the investigation found?

The simple answer is, yes. Now, we do realize that some of the information will be sensitive and "might" qualify for protection.

However, the university's protective order is overly broad and does not specify what information needs to be protected. It basically boils down to a gag order regarding the whole investigation, which is not appropriate.

The court hasn't issued its decision on whether to uphold the protective order. That hearing should occur in a few weeks. First Amendment expert Joey Senat said OU needs to request a protective order for specific documents rather than such a broad request.

"You've got a public university claiming that it needs to be protected from annoyance, harassment, embarrassment (and) oppression by a journalist who is simply reporting on the case," Senat told The OU Daily. "It's absurd."

Indeed, it is. And it's another example of why OU has received the Freedom of Information of Oklahoma's "Black Hole" award in consecutive years. It's time for the university to come clean about this whole sordid business so it can truly move past it.

— Enid News and Eagle