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U. of Okla.'s SAE Chapter Hires Timothy McVeigh's Lawyer. Why?

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By Casey C. Sullivan, Esq. on March 16, 2015 10:46 AM

The Board of Directors of the University of Oklahoma's Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter has retained attorney Stephen Jones, best known for representing Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. The hire comes after the chapter was recently barred from campus and evicted from their frat house following the release of video footage of showing members' racist chanting.

In a press conference Friday, Jones said that he had not been retained to initiate litigation, Oklahoma City's KOKH-TV reports. This raises the question: What exactly prompted the disgraced chapter to take on an attorney best known for representing America's most famous, (and reputedly racist) domestic terrorist?

SAE Goes Under in Oklahoma

The University of Oklahoma chapter of SAE, one of the nation's largest fraternities, was banned from campus, evicted from its chapter house, and saw two students expelled over the past week. The chapter's troubles arose after a video was posted online, showing tuxedo-clad fraternity members gleefully singing a racist chant using the N-word and a reference to lynching. The video drew international attention and led to quick action by the university's president.

Just Here to Advise and Protect

Attorney Stephen Jones claims that the SAE chapter currently has no current plans to sue. So why hire such a high-profile, high-cost attorney? And why one so closely associated with one of America's worst villains? Apparently, someone in SAE's PR department did not foresee any problems with their name and Timothy McVeigh's appearing side by side in national headlines.

According to Jones, he's there to "protect the integrity" of the chapter. Jones is representing the chapter as a whole, and not expelled students Parker Rice and Levi Pettit. Jones said his first goal is to help protect students who have received threats to their physical safety. It is unclear exactly what security the lawyer will provide.

Seeking a 2nd Chance

While Jones acknowledges that the racist chanting seen in the video was "inexcusable," he believes all people deserve a second chance -- and he'd prefer they get that chance without litigation.

Perhaps, though, Jones' target is not the University alone. According to CBS News, the Oklahoma chapter has completely cut off communications with SAE's national headquarters since the chapter was closed.

What do you think the logic behind the Jones hire was? Send us your thoughts via Twitter (@FindLawLP) or Facebook (FindLaw for Legal Professionals).

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