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Oklahoma State Department of Health interim commissioner resigns following domestic abuse allegations

OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma State Department of Health interim commissioner has resigned following allegations of domestic violence.

Tulsa police tell The Frontier officers responded to a domestic violence call from Preston Doerflinger's wife in 2012.

Tulsa police spokesman Shane Tuell read from a police report but didn't supply The Frontier with a copy. Tuell said the case was assigned to the department's family violence unit but it was closed and not forwarded to prosecutors.

The woman, who is now his ex-wife, told police Doerflinger had choked her.

Doerflinger didn't respond to requests for comment from The Frontier.

On Tuesday, the board of OSDH went into executive session to discuss Doerflinger's employment.

Doerflinger announced his resignation following the executive session.

In another brush with the law, Doerflinger's driver's license was revoked after he pleaded no contest in 2015 to driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Brian Downs will serve as acting commissioner.

“We have a dedicated leadership team that is committed to get OSDH back on sound financial footing,” Downs said. “Our entire organization remains focused on protecting the health of all Oklahomans and restoring confidence in this agency.”

Officials with the Oklahoma Management and Enterprise Services agency told KFOR that Doerflinger also resigned from his positions in that department. He was serving as the OMES director and the secretary of finance.

Governor Mary Fallin responded with the following statement:

“The board of the Oklahoma State Department of Health has accepted the resignation of Preston Doerflinger as interim commissioner. He has also resigned as secretary of finance, administration and information technology.

“Preston has played a critical role in state government, serving as director of the Office of Management and Enterprise Services, and Cabinet secretary of finance, administration and information technology. During the past seven years, his efforts saved tax dollars by implementing cost-saving reforms and consolidating state agencies. He also helped guide the Department of Human Services during a critical time when key reforms, such as the Pinnacle Plan, were implemented. I appreciate his service to the state.

“I was unaware of the personal situation involving Preston and his ex-wife almost six years ago. Mrs. Doerflinger did not contact my office about this matter. I take domestic violence very seriously, but I will take Mrs. Doerflinger at her word that this matter was not a case of domestic violence. I respect Preston’s decision to move on from his government service, and wish him and his family the best.”

In the current climate of the country, YWCA Senior Director of Specialized Training Brandon Palsey said it's clearly becoming evident that the country is less inclined to accept alleged perpetrators of sexual abuse or domestic violence.

"Regardless of whether the backdrop is the private sector or the public sector, in terms of business or government, the reality is the same that this behavior is no longer going to be tolerated," Palsey said.