OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A grand jury will assist state investigators looking into allegations of sexual misconduct by former University of Oklahoma President David Boren, the Oklahoma attorney general's office confirmed on Wednesday.
The office said former U.S. Attorney Pat Ryan, who prosecuted the Oklahoma City bombing case, was appointed special counsel to its multicounty grand jury unit. Attorney General Mike Hunter stepped back from the investigation so his office could continue to represent the university in other matters, according to his spokesman.
"The attorney general took appropriate action by recusing himself and numerous senior members of his staff from involvement in this case to avoid any conflict of interest," Hunter spokesman Alex Gerszewski said in a statement.
Hunter also worked for many years as a top attorney with former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating, who is now a member of the university's Board of Regents.
The Oklahoman newspaper first reported Ryan's appointment.
The Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation is looking into allegations that Boren and another former university administrator, Tripp Hall, sexually harassed male students. Both have denied wrongdoing.
The OSBI launched its investigation after former student Jess Eddy came forward to say Boren made unwanted sexual advances and touched him inappropriately on several occasions when he worked as a teaching aide for the former Oklahoma governor and U.S. senator a decade ago. He claims Hall also touched him inappropriately during a trip to Houston in 2010.
The allegations by Eddy, now 29, which he detailed in interviews with The Associated Press, contradict previous statements Eddy gave to investigators and to Boren's attorney denying inappropriate behavior by Boren. Eddy said he was untruthful earlier to protect Boren but then "started realizing the implications of what I was doing by concealing my truth."
Boren's attorney, Clark Brewster, has dismissed Eddy's new account and maintains Boren never acted inappropriately with students or staff. Brewster did not immediately return messages seeking comment Wednesday on the multicounty grand jury investigation.
The university also hired an outside law firm, Jones Day, to conduct a separate investigation into the allegations against Boren. Attorneys for the firm spent about six hours last week briefing regents on the results of its investigation during a closed-door meeting.
The multicounty grand jury is an investigative body that law enforcement or prosecutors can use to subpoena records and compel the testimony of witnesses under oath, especially in cases that may involve multiple jurisdictions. A grand jury investigation can lead to criminal charges.
Follow Sean Murphy at www.twitter.com/apseanmurphy