Oklahoma superintendent out amid team sex assault case
TULSA, Okla. (AP) An Oklahoma superintendent resigned Tuesday amid an investigation of accusations that several school administrators failed to promptly report the sexual assault of a 16-year-old football player by several teammates.
Bixby Schools Superintendent Kyle Wood resigned at a special school board meeting as pressure has mounted from some community members who have previously blasted board members for refusing to take any action on the assault case.
Wood had been superintendent for more than 11 years, overseeing one of the state’s largest school districts with more than 6,000 students and a powerhouse football program that’s captured three state championships in the past four years. The program is big enough to draw numerous sponsors including national fast-food restaurants McDonald’s and Chick-Fil-A, and athletic clothing company Under Armour.
Wood’s attorney said his client denies any wrongdoing and is cooperating with an outside criminal investigation.
”Dr. Wood did not violate any law regarding reporting of child abuse, nor has he violated any district rule or policy,” attorney Paul DeMuro said in a statement Tuesday. ”Because of the ongoing investigation, Dr. Wood will not litigate this case in the press.”
High school administrators are accused of waiting eight days to contact police to report what they first deemed ”an alleged hazing incident” after the football player told officials that a teammate had inserted a pool cue into his anus through his shorts. The boy said he was assaulted in September during a team function at Wood’s house. He told investigators that he was assaulted in a similar manner a year earlier at an event also held at Wood’s house.
The suburban Tulsa school district began investigating on Oct. 26. Its report included interviews with the boy and his mother, but an affidavit filed by investigators provided a fuller account. The boy told investigators he was assaulted by one player while three others held him down. Investigators say a fifth player recorded the assault on a cellphone, and another blocked a door, according to the affidavit.
Investigators said officials’ lag in reporting the assault may have jeopardized their ability to recover key evidence. A search warrant said some school officials may have tried to ”not report the incident at all” – which is a misdemeanor offense under Oklahoma law.
The board’s decision not to suspend the accused officials pending the outcome of the investigation had angered some residents, with one parent blasting board members last week for keeping school administrators on the job given the nature of the case.
The assault is being investigated by an outside prosecutor and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. Spokeswomen at both agencies said Tuesday the investigations were ongoing.
An Associated Press investigation published earlier this year examined sexual violence in school sports as part of a larger look at student-on-student sex assaults. Teammate-on-teammate sexual assaults occurred in all types of sports in public schools, and experts said the more than 70 cases in five years that AP identified were an undercount.