Letter: Oklahoma Senator Shane Jett of Shawnee wants state A.G. to investigate sexual assaults in Shawnee Schools

NOTE: Below is the text of a letter released April 6, 2022, to Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor. The text was provided to CapitolBeatOK by state Senator Shane Jett. 

April 6, 2022, The Honorable John O’Connor

Attorney General of the State of Oklahoma

313 NE 21st Street Oklahoma City, OK 73105

RE: Request for a Grand Jury Investigation into the allegations against Coach Ron Arthur for the grooming and sexual assault of students in the Shawnee Public School District and the cover-up by the District Superintendent, the administration, and the Board of Education as well as allegations of intimidation and reprisal against teachers, parents, and victims.

Dear Mr. O’Connor,

I write in my capacity as a state senator for Shawnee and at the request several of my constituents. I respectfully request a multi-county Grand Jury investigation into the Shawnee Public School Superintendent, Administration, and the Board of Education for the alleged cover-up of Coach Ron Arthur’s calculated grooming and sexual assault of students in the Shawnee Public School and for the administration’s intimidation of students, teachers, parents, and victims. Since I first notified you last year about this continuing coverup surrounding this scandal, you and your staff have been both supportive and accessible as I conducted my inquiries.

As you know, there have been media reports of abuse by Ron Arthur in the Shawnee Public School. For more than fifteen years, Ron Arthur allegedly sexually groomed and molested children in Shawnee Public Schools. Since our initial communication, I have interviewed parents, students, teachers, school employees, and victims. The alarming thing that I discovered throughout my hours of interviews is that this narrative is not merely one of sexual predation by the alleged pedophile, Ron Arthur, but also a systematic pattern of school administrators and school board members ignoring his behavior and/or actively protecting Arthur rather than the children he victimized. 

Teachers, parents, and students repeatedly reported Arthur’s derelictions to his supervisors. As told to me, those reports were largely ignored, or the punitive action was so lenient that it emboldened Arthur while deterring others from reporting additional abuse. Arthur’s long-term pattern of alleged abuse vividly illustrates the impotence of their disciplinary measures. In one case related to me, another teacher who reported concerns to both the School Superintendent and Assistant Superintendent was reprimanded for fulfilling the legal mandate to report suspicions of abuse. The reprimand culminated in punitive actions that ultimately led the teacher to seek employment in another school district.

We, the citizens of Shawnee, value and cherish our public school district. We actively support and embrace our students, teachers, and administration. We worship at the same churches, attend community functions together, rejoice together over our successes, and we mourn one another’s losses.

Our community feels betrayed, justifiably so, by the school leaders who had an opportunity to stop this alleged child predator 15 years ago. Ron Arthur’s work history spanned five counties with as many school districts.  We fear that this pattern of alleged abuse and cover-up, may well cover the totality of his teaching career and not be solely isolated to the Shawnee school district. Because of the aforementioned reasons, we believe justice can only be achieved by authorizing an independent investigation by a multi-county Grand Jury under the supervision of the Attorney General of Oklahoma. It is to that end, that we petition your office for a redress of our grievances.

Very respectfully,
Shane David Jett