A law firm hired by Baylor University to investigate the school’s handling of sexual assault and violence cases involving athletes determined that 17 women since 2011 reported incidents of sexual and domestic violence involving 19 football players, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday afternoon. Four of the cases involved alleged gang rapes.
In May, Philadelphia-based law firm Pepper Hamilton released a scathing report about Baylor’s handling of sexual assault allegations. That report led to the demotion and then resignation of former university president and chancellor Kenneth Starr; the firing of football coach Art Briles; the suspension and then resignation of athletic director Ian McCaw; and the firings of multiple athletic department employees.
The Journal on Friday quoted Baylor regents who detailed some of the Pepper Hamilton findings for the first time. According to the regents, in at least one case, Briles “knew about an alleged incident and didn’t alert police, the school’s judicial-affairs staff or the Title IX office in charge of coordinating the school’s response to sexual violence.”
J. Cary Gray, a Dallas lawyer and member of the Baylor board of regents, told The Journal, “There was a cultural issue there that was putting winning football games above everything else, including our values. … We did not have a caring community when it came to these women who reported that they were assaulted. And that is not OK.”
The regents spoke to The Journal amid a backdrop of some influential Baylor donors and alumni wondering whether Briles might have been made the scapegoat for a larger sexual assault problem at the university. Such talk has taken hold in some Baylor corners because of the secrecy around the Pepper Hamilton report, which has never been made public.
The Journal story detailed the events that led up to Briles’ firing: On May 24, two days before the firing, Briles addressed regents in a conference room. The regents said Briles broke down and wept when he was asked what he would have done differently. Many board members began to cry as well.
“He couldn’t speak he was so upset, and all of us were,” Gray told The Journal. “Art said, ‘I delegated down, and I know I shouldn’t have. And I had a system where I was the last to know, and I should have been the first to know.'”
Ernest Cannon, Briles’ attorney, told The Journal that Briles quoted Scripture and expressed his regrets over Baylor’s painful situation, but the former coach didn’t admit to wrongdoing.
The regents told The Journal their decision to fire Briles went beyond the school’s requirements to police sexual assault on campuses. “As he heard information, what did he do with it? From a moral standpoint, what is the right thing to do?” Ron Murff, a Dallas businessman who is chairman of the board of regents, told The Journal.
Baylor’s former Title IX coordinator, Patty Crawford, resigned this month and has sharply criticized university officials for what she says were efforts to prevent her from trying to handle a sexual assault problem that went beyond the football program.
The Journal report said Baylor told the newspaper, “Football players were involved in 10.4 percent of Title IX-reported incidents in the four-year period ending in 2014-15.” Male athletes comprise 4 percent of the undergraduate male population at Baylor.
Three Baylor football players have been indicted for sexual assault and crimes against women in the past four years. Former defensive end Shawn Oakman was indicted by a McLennan County grand jury on charges of second-degree felony sexual assault last month. Defensive ends Tevin Elliott and Sam Ukwuachu were convicted of sexual assault in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
Outside the Lines obtained confidential letters and emails this week that indicate Baylor’s athletics department was aware of at least one incident of alleged sexual misconduct involving Elliott, but the department continued to allow him to play during the 2011 season.
According to an email obtained by Outside the Lines, Baylor’s judicial affairs office gave Elliott a written notice of misconduct on Nov. 18, 2011, just seven weeks after a female community college student reported to Waco police that Elliott had trapped her in her room, held her against her will and touched her inappropriately, at one point poking a broom toward her vagina, during an alleged incident at her apartment on Sept. 28, 2011. Waco police cited Elliott with a misdemeanor for the incident.
In the notice of misconduct letter sent to Elliott, Baylor judicial affairs coordinator David Murdock told him that “you will have the opportunity to hear the evidence that has been brought to my attention, and you will have the opportunity to either admit or deny the charge of misconduct. If you admit the charge, I will set the sanction(s). If you deny the charge, a hearing will be required.” Senior associate athletics director Paul Bradshaw was also copied on the email.
Elliott played in Baylor’s 45-38 upset of No. 5 Oklahoma on Nov. 19, 2011, and in a 66-42 win over Texas Tech the next week, before missing the final two games that season for what the team called a knee injury.
A document obtained by ESPN indicates that Baylor judicial affairs sanctioned Elliott on March 29, 2012, with disciplinary probation and a written warning for the November 2011 incident. The document also noted that judicial affairs became aware just days later, on April 3, 2012, of a female Baylor student having reported that Elliott had sexually assaulted her on March 27, 2012. Weeks later, Elliott was then accused of raping another Baylor female student at an off-campus party on April 15, 2012.
The document also indicates that judicial affairs learned on May 2, 2012, that Elliott had actually been accused more than a year earlier — March 19, 2011 — of sexually assaulting a TCU student in a Waco night club. The incident had been reported to Waco police.
Elliott was suspended from the team for an undisclosed violation of team rules on April 27, 2012, three days before he was arrested by police in Waco for raping the woman at the off-campus party earlier that month. In January 2014, Elliott was sentenced to the maximum 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine on the two counts of sexual assault in 2012, according to a report from WacoTrib.com.
Briles told ESPN in September that he takes responsibility for the football program’s poor handling of sexual assault allegations involving players and that his “heart certainly aches.” However, he distanced himself from decisions made after some players had been accused of criminal activity.
“There were some bad things that happened under my watch,” Briles said. “And for that, I’m sorry. … I was wrong. I’m sorry. I’m going to learn. I’m going to get better.”
He said he understood why the sexual assault victims would be upset with him.
“I’d tell them I’m extremely sorry. It just appalls me that somebody could victimize another human being. And there’s no place in society for it. And I’ve never condoned it and never will and never put up with it,” he said. “These players are part of our program and representatives of our program. And when they do wrong, then it reflects on me and the university. So I do feel responsibility.”
Also on Friday, two women were added to a federal Title IX lawsuit filed against Baylor on June 15, bringing the number of total plaintiffs in the case to 10. The women, who were identified as Jane Doe 9 and Jane Doe 10, allege the university failed to respond properly to their allegations of sexual assault.
According to the amended complaint, Jane Doe 9 enrolled at Baylor in January 2014 and was awarded multiple academic scholarships. The woman says she was sexually assaulted by a Baylor student in November 2014. She reported the incident to the office of judicial affairs, but, according to the lawsuit, “Judicial Affairs was not interested or concerned with the assault, but did take interest in the fact that students were drinking at the time and place of the assault.”
The lawsuit said judicial affairs officials failed to refer the woman to the university’s Title IX office or counseling services, and “failed to take a written report, and to the best of Jane Doe 9’s recollection, failed to even write down her name. Jane Doe 9 left the Judicial Affairs Office with only a lecture on drinking.”
The lawsuit alleges the stress and trauma of the assault caused the woman to develop shingles that left her with permanent scarring and unable to perform academically. According to the complaint, she lost her academic scholarships and was placed on academic suspension. The lawsuit said the woman suffered a breakdown during the holiday break in 2014 and “is crippled by panic attacks when she sees her assailant on campus.”
The woman reported the incident to the Title IX office and police have started a criminal investigation into the alleged assault, according to the complaint.
Jane Doe 10 enrolled at Baylor in August 2013 as a biochemistry major and had aspirations of going to medical school. According to the complaint, she was sexually assaulted by a friend in February 2016 and reported the incident to another friend and Waco police later that day. Baylor police and the Title IX office also were informed of the assault.
The lawsuit alleges that the Title IX office conducted an investigation into the alleged assault, but “did so in a way that substantially prejudiced Jane Doe 10 and in a manner that suggests the investigation was in name only with the outcome predetermined.”
“The Title IX office failed to support Jane Doe 10 through its process and failed to sufficient action to provide Jane Doe 10 with a fair, impartial and informed investigation,” the lawsuit alleges.
Information from ESPN’s Mark Schlabach was used in this report.
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