An outside investigation into the Baylor University assault scandal shows that 17 women made both sexual and domestic assault claims against at least 19 football players.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the investigation, led by the Pepper Hamilton law firm in Philadelphia, found that four gang rapes were reported, along with alleged “horrifying and painful” assault incidents that took place over the span of several years, starting in 2011. Apparently, former Baylor football coach Art Briles knew of at least one of the reported incidents but failed to report it himself to law enforcement.
According to J. Cary Gray, an attorney and a member of the Baylor board of regents, the university’s football team and, most importantly, the team’s winning streak was placed above anything and everything else, including numerous sexual and domestic assault reports.
“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 they were assaulted, and that is not OK.”
Gray also said that just a few days before Briles was fired, he was called in by the board to discuss the assault accusations. The former coach said he was the “last to know” about the reports.
“Art said, ‘I delegated down, and I know I shouldn’t have. And I had a system where I was the last to know (of the assault allegations), and I should have been the first to know,'” Gray told the WSJ.
Ernest Cannon, Briles’ lawyer, said that the school’s administrators used Briles as the scapegoat for their own inadequacies of handling the rigorous Title IX program. A number of lawsuits against Baylor accuse the school of failing to guard against sexual discrimination on many different occasions. The Title IX program is meant to help prevent sexual discrimination, which includes sexual assault, sexual harassment, and rape.
“They are pulling their own house down to justify the mistakes they made. He’s the football coach. That’s not his job [to enforce Title IX]. That’s their job,” said Cannon.
Baylor has been under critical observation since August of 2015, when one of the school’s football players, Sam Ukwuachu, was sentenced to 180 days in jail for sexual assault. ESPN reports that Ukwuachu was also given 10 years probation and 400 community services hours. During his trial, Baylor acknowledged investigating the accusations against Ukwuachu, but the school also admitted to doing little else, aside from barring him from playing football while his trial was pending.
During the Ukwuachu investigation, numerous other reports surfaced, prompting the school to hire Pepper Hamilton. The law firm was hired to investigate the other assault allegations, and the end result was a severely critical report on how Baylor handled the cases. The report read that the school “failed to take action to identify and eliminate a potential hostile environment, prevent its recurrence, or address its effects for individual complainants or the broader campus community.”
According to the report, the school intervened when sexual and domestic assault complaints were made, yet they failed to report it to law enforcement and, instead, kept the complaints within the athletic department. Since then, students at the school, as well as many off-campus people, have pressed for details.
Until recently, the school denied people the access to information found during their investigations. The disclosure happened after multiple women filed lawsuits against Baylor.
Regardless, there are still those who support Briles and believe it was the administrators who “dropped the ball.” Patty Crawford, a former Title IX coordinator at Baylor, stated that sexual assaults were a campus-wide problem at the school and that the instances of football players being accused account for only 10 percent of the accusations. She resigned after she claimed the school’s “top campus leaders” continued to undermine her each time she looked into the assault acclaims.
Indeed, it’s possible that a number of leaders at the school are more concerned with protecting Baylor’s name more than protecting the students across campus, but according to Gray, the former football coach is just as responsible.
“Football is a fraction, but it is a bad fraction.”
[Featured Photo by CEHBauer/iStock]