OKC school board member seeks to stop discussion of conduct
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — An Oklahoma City School Board member seeks to permanently prevent the board from discussing his conduct.
In a motion dated July 3, member Charles Henry asks a judge for a permanent injunction to stop the board from actions that he says violate his constitutional rights to free speech and due process.
The Oklahoman reports Henry obtained a temporary restraining order June 24 after a meeting agenda included a private discussion about possible discipline against Henry but cited no specific violations. Henry voiced several complaints about the school district over social media. He has since deleted his Twitter account.
The board and school Superintendent Sean McDaniel were notified Monday of the filing and planned votes on code of ethics and disciplinary policy scheduled for Monday night were removed from the agenda.
Leaders want Oklahoma City's new top cop to boost relations
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma City's community leaders say they are cautiously optimistic that the city's new police chief will improve relations between the police department and historically underrepresented groups.
Wade Gourley, 51, was appointe d Monday as the department's first new chief in 15 years and will oversee more than 1,200 uniformed officers. A 30-year veteran of the force, Gourley replaces former Chief Bill Citty, who retired in May after 41 years with the agency.
Kris Steele, executive director of Oklahomans for Criminal Justice Reform, told The Oklahoman he hopes Gourley recruits and employs a diverse police force. About 6% of the department's officers are Hispanic, 6% are black and 1% are Asian. But the Census Bureau says Oklahoma City's population is 18.5% Hispanic, 14.3% black and 4% Asian.
Steele lauded Citty's work in the community and pointed to his efforts to reduce the county jail population. Those who work in the criminal justice reform arena want to see Gourley build on Citty's successes, Steele said.
Raul Font, president of the Latino Community Development Agency, said that along with Deputy Chief Paco Balderrama, Citty was very involved in the Hispanic community. The community is expecting the same from Gourley.
"That presence and that trust, having Paco still there, I still think the community is hopeful that ... we will still have a voice there," Font said.
Valerie Thompson, president of the Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City, said her organization has had a longstanding relationship with Oklahoma City police. She wants to see Gourley strengthen those ties.
"It's very important that the entire community, but particularly the African American community, to have a good relationship with the police chief," she said.
911 service restored in Tulsa area after fire at AT&T site
TULSA, Okla. (AP) — Tulsa-area officials say residents can call 911 for emergencies again after a fire disrupted service.
A city news release says the service was restored Tuesday after a fire at a Tulsa AT&T building left the service down or sporadic for several hours.
The police department had asked residents who couldn't call 911 not to report an emergency via social media. Police officers had been stationed at QuikTrip convenience stores, major intersections and fire stations to respond to people who couldn't get through the phone system.
Police in the Tulsa suburbs of Owasso and Sand Springs also reported 911 disruptions.
Oklahoma City Archdiocese misconduct report delayed again
By DAVID WARREN Associated Press
The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City now says there's no timetable for the repeatedly delayed release of a report on priests accused of sexual misconduct with minors.
The church "miscalculated" how long reviewing the files of past and current priests would take, archdiocese spokeswoman Diane Clay said Monday.
The archdiocese hired the Oklahoma-based law firm of McAfee and Taft to produce the report, including an analysis scrutinizing how the archdiocese responded to past allegations of abuse.
"They're really trying to be as thorough and comprehensive as possible so that when they release their report they'll be confident in the outcome," Clay said.
In a statement Tuesday, the law firm said it won't speculate on when the report will be completed but is working "as expeditiously as possible."
Archbishop Paul Coakley said in August that a review of files dating back to 1960 would result in a report being released in November. That deadline was postponed to February and then to March.
Zach Hiner, executive director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Tuesday he understands how reviewing hundreds of files dating back decades can be a monumental task, but that there's nothing preventing the archdiocese from releasing findings as they develop.
"Put out what information that you can now and live up to that promise to be open and transparent to the public," Hiner said.
Clay said officials have not set a new date for the report's release. There's no indication how many priests may be on the list.
Coakley in August called for a renewed commitment to transparency and accountability, explaining that the initial report would be followed by a second one detailing any findings from files prior to 1960. But Clay said the review of pre-1960 files has not yet begun.
The archdiocese suspended the Rev. James Mickus from the ministry last year pending an investigation of alleged sexual abuse of a minor. A lawyer for the Roman Catholic priest said the allegation wasn't credible.
The advocacy group BishopAccountability.org names five other priests besides Mickus who at one time worked for the archdiocese and were accused of sexual misconduct. None are associated with the archdiocese anymore.
The Diocese of Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma announced Friday that the Rev. Joe Townsend was placed on administrative leave following an allegation of misconduct. He's denied any such allegations and is cooperating with an investigation, the diocese said.
The Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma Diocese last year identified two other priests who were facing credible accusations of abusing minors. Both men are no longer associated with that diocese.
In Arkansas, the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock last year released a list of 12 priests who served in the state and were accused of abuse. The diocese continues to investigate other allegations of misconduct.
And in January, Catholic leaders in Texas identified nearly 300 priests and others statewide accused of sexually abusing children.