OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation confirmed Wednesday that it is looking into a lawsuit’s allegations that a middle school student was sexually assaulted and threatened by classmates over 18 months and that school officials did nothing to stop the attacks.
The lawsuit, filed Monday in federal court in Oklahoma City by the now 14-year-old boy and his parents, alleges that Superintendent A.J. Brewer and Principal Stuart McPherson of Washington Public Schools, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) south of Oklahoma City treated the assaults as “horseplay” or “accidental touching.”
The OSBI investigation into the sexual assault allegations should be finished soon, according to spokeswoman Jessica Brown.
“We should have our reports completed in a few weeks. We will then hand it over to the district attorney. The DA will then determine how to proceed,” and whether criminal charges are warranted, Brown said.
School attorney Andy Fugitt said Wednesday that he was aware of the lawsuit but that he could not comment on pending litigation.
Under Oklahoma law, anyone who suspects a child under the age of 18 is being abused is required to report the suspicion to the state’s Department of Human Services.
According to the lawsuit, DHS was notified of the allegations in May 2017, and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation began investigating in November at the request of the Washington Police Department.
DHS spokeswoman Sheree Powell said the agency is prohibited by state and federal law from confirming any investigation.
“We don’t or confirm investigations involving particular allegations or individuals,” Powell said.
The lawsuit comes after four former football players in the Tulsa suburb of Bixby were previously charged with sexually assaulting a teammate that prosecutors said wasn’t promptly reported.The four have pleaded not guilty and their attorneys have asked that the each be certified as juveniles.
An Associated Press investigation published in 2017 examined sexual violence in school sports as part of a larger look at student-on-student sex assaults. The investigation found that team sexual assault is often mischaracterized as hazing and bullying and that the violence is so normalized that it persists for years, as players attacked one season become aggressors the next.