Oklahoma House Page Program Suspended Amid Sexual Assault Investigation

Mar 15, 2019

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma's speaker of the House suspended its page program on Thursday after a teenage girl reported she was sexually assaulted by another page at a hotel near the Capitol where the high school participants spend the night.

Midwest City Police Chief Brandon Clabes confirmed his detectives are investigating the alleged assault of the teen Tuesday night by a male teenager who also was serving as a page.

No arrests have been made, and Clabes said when the investigation is completed, it will be turned over to the district attorney to decide if charges are warranted. Clabes said both students are minors.

In an email to House members on Thursday, Speaker Charles McCall said he was suspending the page program pending an internal review.

"I will be working with House Republican and Democratic leadership to assign a bipartisan task force to re-evaluate the House page program, including our current procedures and best practices from other states," McCall wrote.

The Senate operates a similar page program, and Senate President Pro Tem Greg Treat said he plans to review the program's protocols in light of the recent incident.

Hundreds of high school students participate in the Oklahoma Legislature's page program every year, spending a week in Oklahoma's capital city running errands for lawmakers and legislative staff. The program includes overnight stays at a local hotel paid for by the Legislature. The students are accompanied by adult chaperones provided by the Legislature, and the program's guidelines indicate students are "closely supervised at all times."

A former state House member in 2017 agreed to get sensitivity training and was blocked from interacting with the page program for a year after being accused of making inappropriate comments to a high school page two years earlier. Former Rep. Will Fourkiller denied saying anything inappropriate, but agreed to the sanctions anyway.