Public court documents filed Tuesday reveal new details about the evidence law enforcement investigators have gathered in the sexual assault investigation involving Bixby High School football players.
Among the revelations contained in new search warrant affidavits:
• Records obtained through a previous search warrant at Bixby Public Schools included written statements from five juveniles “admitting their various levels of participation in the sexual assault of the victim and the video recording of the sexual assault.”
• One juvenile and his parent came forward to police the night before investigators seized school employee and juvenile suspects’ cellphones and admitted that the boy video-recorded the sexual assault and consented to having his cellphone searched. They told police they were concerned about protecting potential evidence on the cellphone because a parent of one of the suspects “had recently offered to purchase” that juvenile’s cellphone.
• Athletic Director Jay Bittle took a written statement from the victim on Oct. 26, but the “first known” reporting of the sexual assault to any investigative agency wasn’t until an Oct. 31 meeting with Bixby police previously described to investigators as “off the record.” Additionally, “those present indicated Superintendent Kyle Wood would not allow school officials to report the incident to the police until the morning of Nov. 2.”
• In response to criticism from the Bixby school board, investigators doubled-down on their previous statements that they are aware of only one report of the assault being made to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services — on Nov. 10.
The new documents also show that with their new Jan. 2 search warrants, investigators were able to perform forensic examinations of four juvenile suspects’ cellphones, during which both active content and “an amount of deleted data” was copied.
The new search warrants state that in addition to investigating a possible rape, the joint investigation by the special prosecutor’s office, Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation and Bixby police includes “whether there were efforts to avoid the mandatory reporting requirements” that require reporting suspected abuse to DHS, “as well as potential efforts to thwart a police investigation into the incident.”
Wood resigned Dec. 18, nearly three months after a student says he was raped with a pool cue for the second time at a high school football team event at the superintendent’s house.
The 16-year-old high school student has told law enforcement investigators he was twice attacked with a pool cue, on Sept. 27, as well as an undisclosed date in 2016, by his Spartans football teammates at team functions held at the home of Wood, whose son played on the team.
Multiple sources with direct knowledge of the situation have told the Tulsa World that nearly 10 Bixby High School football players were benched or kicked off the team for the remainder of the season amid the allegations.
No other action has been taken on the employment status of any other Bixby district officials, despite indications that law enforcement is investigating possible delays in reporting the assault allegations.
Law enforcement obtained search warrants to go onto school property Nov. 17 and seize the cellphones of Wood, High School Principal Terry Adams, Athletic Director Bittle and four juvenile suspects.
Additionally, district officials were given a Dec. 1 deadline to produce emails sought in a search warrant related to “sexual assault, hazing or bullying involving members of the Bixby football team in 2016 or 2017.”
Investigators stated in court documents filed Tuesday that in response to their Nov. 17 search warrant, the Bixby school district “produced tens of thousands of emails in an unindexed and minimally searchable format where each electronic communication was an unnamed file that had to be individually opened to be examined.”
Analysts from the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation are trying to get the school district to produce the documents in a “more easily searchable format.”
In striking a resignation agreement worth about $167,000 with Superintendent Wood just before winter break, the Bixby school board devoted nearly half of its lengthy public statement to questioning the accuracy of previous public court records filed by the office of Special Prosecutor Matt Ballard.
Ballard immediately pushed back, standing by the work of his investigators and saying the school district has made the investigation “frustratingly difficult.”
The new court documents also include a detailed response to the school board’s allegations.
That portion reveals that Wood, Bittle and Adams “describe varying accounts of when they became specifically aware of the nature of the sexual assault and their subsequent action.” Also, “the degree to which the victim’s parents were advised (about the extent of the attack) remains in dispute.”
The Bixby school board’s contract attorney, Doug Mann, reportedly told Ballard on Dec. 21 that board member Julie Prox called someone at DHS about the assault, but the affidavit states that “investigators have been unable to corroborate this information at this point.”
Investigators documented their progress, including “numerous” interviews of Bixby students, school officials and school district documents. But they noted that “the investigation is far from complete.”