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OU’s top lobbyist resigns amid sexual assault allegations

Sean Murphy, The Associated Press (The City Sentinel)

NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — The University of Oklahoma’s former top lobbyist is being investigated by the Norman Police Department after a woman claimed he sexually assaulted her, police confirmed on Monday (August 23).

No arrests have been made, and the investigation into 46-year-old John Woods, OU’s former director of government affairs, is ongoing, said police spokeswoman Sarah Jensen. Once the investigation is complete, Jensen says the case will be forwarded to the Cleveland County District Attorney’s Office for consideration of criminal charges.

Woods submitted his resignation from OU on Friday (August 20), his attorney, Steve Stice, told The Associated Press on Monday.

The woman’s allegations were outlined in a petition for a protective order filed in Cleveland County earlier this month. A judge last week granted the woman an emergency protective order, and a hearing on the matter is set for Sept. 2.

“We plan on appearing and defending against these allegations,” Stice said. He declined further comment on the allegations.

The university said in a statement it was aware of the allegations and confirmed Woods is no longer employed with OU.

In her request for a protective order, the woman claims Woods sexually assaulted her in a parking lot on July 27 and later sent her a sexually explicit video of himself. The woman also claims Woods continued to harass her by sending her unwanted text messages. The woman filed her petition for a protective order and reported the incident to police about 11 days after the alleged assault.

The Associated Press does not generally identify victims of sexual assault.

Woods worked for three Republican speakers of the Oklahoma House of Representatives before stints as the president of the Norman Chamber of Commerce and as director of the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust. He was named OU’s director of government affairs in 2018 by then-President Jim Gallogly.

The University of Oklahoma was rocked with sexual assault allegations in 2019 against its former President David Boren and one of Boren’s top administrators, Tripp Hall III. Both men denied the allegations, and criminal charges were never filed.

A lawsuit filed against the university by one of Hall’s accusers was settled, but the terms of the settlement were not disclosed.