With a new website called “The Truth” and a series of interviews over the last few days, Baylor University leaders say they are trying to release more information and make amends for the sexual assault scandal that has shaken the private Baptist university.
“That Baylor did not respond as a caring Christian community to those who were hurt grieves all of us — regents, administrators, faculty and staff,” Interim President David Garland said in a statement posted on the university’s website Tuesday. “On behalf of everyone at Baylor, I want to apologize again to the victims and their families. I will do all I can to ensure this never happens again.”
The school has been in turmoil since August 2015, when football player Sam Ukwuachu was convicted of raping another student. During the trial, it was revealed that Baylor investigated the allegations against Ukwuachu but took little action other than suspending him from the football team while his trial was pending.
Soon after, other similar cases came to light, and football coach Art Briles and university president Ken Starr both lost their jobs in May after a long investigation.
Garland said in Tuesday’s statement that “the breadth of the problem was staggering within the university and the football program.”
“Since 2011, a total of 17 victims reported allegations of sexual assault or domestic violence by 19 football players. Four of these involved alleged gang rapes that were reported to have occurred in 2012,” he wrote.
“That Baylor did not respond as a caring Christian community to those who were hurt grieves all of us – regents, administrators, faculty and staff.”— Interim President David Garland
The website — www.baylor.edu/thetruth — highlights how the university has spent $4.3 million on its Title IX office and support services for victims of sexual violence since November 2014. It details how it hopes to implement more than 100 recommendations developed by a private law firm to improve its sexual assault response processes. And it links to two recent articles about the scandal. One is a Wall Street Journal story that includes interviews with Baylor regents; the other is an apologetic opinion piece in The Dallas Morning News written by Baylor regent Mark Lovvorn.
Another story that includes interviews with Baylor leadership is expected to run Tuesday night on 60 Minutes Sports, a news magazine show on the Showtime network. In that story, a Baylor vice president says university police had a history of burying sexual assault reports, according to CBS News.
The vice president reportedly discusses an alleged 2013 gang rape involving two additional football players. No criminal charges were filed against them, even though police were notified, CBS News reported.
“There was a police report; I suppose it stayed with the police department,” said Reagan Ramsower, the Baylor vice president who presides over the campus safety. “It never came out of the police department. That was a significant failure to respond by our police department, there’s no doubt about it.”
Those disclosures include far more information than was previously made available by the school. Some information remains unclear, including who specifically knew about what cases. Many critics of the school have called for the release of an investigative report that the university commissioned from the law firm Pepper Hamilton around the time of Ukwuachu’s trial. In his statement Tuesday, Garland says no such report exists other than a list of “findings of fact” and recommendations that was released earlier this year.
“You should know, while the lawyers from Pepper Hamilton gave presentations to the Board of Regents and some administrators about their findings, they never created or delivered a written report,” Garland said.
He also defended the school’s decision to fire Briles and push out Starr.
“No other university faced with similar circumstances has moved as decisively to change leadership at the highest levels — its president, athletic director and head football coach,” he said.
A lawyer for Briles didn’t immediately return a voicemail left at his office.
Most of Briles’ assistants remain on staff, despite Pepper Hamilton saying that in some cases football coaches or staff met with victims or their families and didn’t report the allegations of sexual assault to anyone outside the athletics department. The football team is 6-1 this season.
Garland wrote that “we decided it would be unfair to remove those further down in the organization for the mistakes of their leaders.”
This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2016/11/01/baylor-interim-president-breadth-problem-was-stagg/.