Women allege Baylor ignored sex assaults by football players

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As much as Baylor would like, allegations that continue to significantly stain the university’s image simply won’t go away.

Over the past four years, at least two Baylor football players, Tevin Elliott and Sam Ukwuachu, are known to have been accused of committing sexual assaults while they were members of the Bears.  Both players, who continue to maintain their innocence, were ultimately convicted of sexually assaulting female BU students, with Elliott sentenced to 20 years in prison and Ukwauchu to 10 years felony probation.

Elliott’s conviction, ESPN‘s Outside the Lines is reporting, came after he was accused of either rape or assault five other times from October of 2009 to April of 2012 while he was still a member of the football program.  Ukwuachu’s conviction came after an internal university investigation cleared the defensive lineman of any wrongdoing in the alleged rape of a fellow BU student-athlete in October of 2013.

In the OTL report, Elliott’s victim, identified only as “Tanya,” alleges that the university essentially ignored allegations because the sexual assault happened off-campus and, in her mind, a football players was involved.

Yet an investigation by Outside the Lines found several examples in Tanya’s case, and others at Baylor, in which school officials either failed to investigate, or adequately investigate, allegations of sexual violence. In many cases, officials did not provide support to those who reported assaults. Moreover, it took Baylor more than three years to comply with a federal directive: In April 2011, the U.S. Department of Education sent a letter to all colleges and universities outlining their responsibilities under Title IX, including the need for each school to have a Title IX coordinator. Baylor didn’t hire a full-time coordinator until fall 2014.

“They didn’t just not respond; they responded by turning me away and telling me that it was not possible for me to receive help from them,” said Tanya, whose identity is being kept private by Outside the Lines because she was the victim of a sexual assault.

Because Elliott remained on campus and in school after the rape, “Tanya” sought help from both the campus police department and the school’s student help center; both entities, “Tanya” alleged, told her they could not help her because either the assault happened off-campus or that she should “go see someone off campus.”

One of the more disturbing portions of the OTL report is that, two weeks before “Tanya” was raped by Elliott, another woman, identified as “Kim,” had filed a police report accusing Elliott of sexually assaulting her.

… the woman — Kim — and her mother said they also reported the assault to Baylor’s ombudsman office and were sent to meet with the school’s chief judicial officer, Bethany McCraw.

Both women said McCraw’s response noted that Kim, also a Baylor athlete, was the sixth woman to report such an incident involving Elliott.

“I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, six?’ ” Kim said. “We essentially asked, ‘Well, why are there six?’ and, ‘Well, does the football team know about this? Does Art Briles know about this?’ And she said, ‘Yes, they know about it, but it turns into a he said-she said, so there’s got to be, actually a court decision in order to act on it in any sort of way.’ “

The portrait painted by the OTL report regarding Baylor’s alleged handling — or non-handling — of sexual assault allegations involving its football players is disturbing to say the least.  BU’s new Title IX coordinator, Patty Crawford, did state that, OTL writes, “the school has hired an outside consultant to review its handling of previous cases.”

However, it’s unclear if Baylor, a private university, will release the findings of that report. Moreover, the university’s police department has also “refused to release any records pertaining to the incidents [of alleged sexual assaults], even though the Texas legislature passed a law last summer making private campus police departments subject to state open records laws.”

The university made no coaches, including head coach Art Briles, or administrators available for OTL‘s report. The program makes note that “[o]ne of those administrators w[is] university president Ken Starr, the former judge and independent counsel who led the investigation into President Bill Clinton‘s intern-sex scandal.”

The issue of rape and sexual assault is not limited to Baylor as the U.S. Department of Education is currently investigation a total of 161 colleges across the country the country for their handling of sexual violence allegations. Baylor, however, is not one of the 161.