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Retired OU professor accused of inappropriate behavior

NORMAN, Okla. - University of Oklahoma officials have confirmed a retired professor, who has been accused of inappropriate behavior, will not be speaking at a scheduled event on Wednesday.

Recently, accusations against John Scamehorn, a professor emeritus for OU's School of Chemical, Biological and Materials Engineering, have circulated around social media. Some have taken to Facebook, posting their experiences with Scamehorn in which they felt uncomfortable.

Scamehorn was scheduled to speak at the event on Wednesday; however, school officials confirm he withdrew his participation on Monday.

One person recalled Scamehorn would share details of his personal life, including trips to Thailand on behalf of the school's engineering department: "He told me about the disgusting details of him buying prostitutes and how he liked Thai women because they were 'so obedient.'”

Former assistants and students have also accused Scamehorn of having pictures "taken through his front window of young girls walking to and from school, and additional photos through the same window of him standing on the sidewalk with his dogs, talking to the children walking home, each individually labeled with the name of his street and a description of the girl."

Brian Gililland, a local freelance film technician, spoke with News 4 on Tuesday. He said Scamehorn has served an executive producer on several projects Gililland has worked on.

He told us he was not surprised by the allegations.

"We’ve all known about it for several, several years, and there’s not a film technician that works in Oklahoma that I know that doesn’t know about this and I can’t even call it an open secret because people have been trying to tell people about it for a really long time," he told News 4.

Gililland said he noticed "red flags" while working on the film 'Pax Masculina,' which he described as "Scamehorn's baby." Gililland was working with the sound department and claimed Scamehorn tried to bring a camera into dressing rooms.

"He was on site pretty much everyday, specifically whenever we were shooting certain scenes that involves girls getting hanged and that kind of thing," he said. "He was always kind of floating around — normally that wouldn’t be that big of a deal, except that he was holding a little handicam and he was filming his own behind the scene stuff."

On Tuesday, there was new criticism against Scamehorn - this time, from the free market think tank Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs, which took an aim at film rebates and subsidies.

"It turns out this person facing these accusations has actually received $70,000 twice over to help for making these movies that again — seem to be more like hobby films," said OCPA executive vice president Trent England. "Now, we have accusations of harassment going on on the set of one of these movies that taxpayers had to help pay for."

Gililland said, moving forward, everyone needs to have an honest conversation about speaking up if they also recognize "red flags."

"I think, if men do not stand up with women, then we’re just going to stay in this problem," he said. "If men are not part of that conversation, it's going to be a long road."

News 4 has been reaching out to Scamehorn via email, phone, text and by visiting his last listed address since Monday. Tuesday evening, he released a statement saying:

"I am aware of the rumors and allegations made against me online and in local media reports. In the strongest terms possible, I deny any wrongdoing." 

OU officials told News 4 Scamehorn retired from the university in 2007 and "formally severed" any remaining employment status with the university on February 12, 2016.

In a statement, we're told:

"While personnel matters are confidential, the university may comment on its policies and procedures generally. The university takes all reports of misconduct very seriously. Any complaints made to OU’s Office of Institutional Equity are promptly addressed. The office is tasked with identifying sexual harassment, eliminating the harassment and remedying its effects. The office protocols involve not only internal inquiry but also often involve coordination with local law enforcement and outreach to community entities. While former employees are not subject to disciplinary proceedings as the university has no legal or formal authority over them, we make every effort to ensure a safe learning environment free of discrimination or harassment. Additionally, in some circumstances when the propriety of a donor relationship is in question, the university has returned gifts to the donor.

In cases where a reported behavior could potentially constitute a crime, the university encourages but does not require victims to report and cooperate with law enforcement. While the university may not comment specifically as to any potential inquiry pertaining to Dr. Scamehorn, we have followed our protocols in fulfilling our obligation to provide a safe learning environment."