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Education Ex-Baylor official: School undermined sex assault probes

Ex-Baylor official: School undermined sex assault probes

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DALLAS (AP) – The former Title IX coordinator at Baylor University said Wednesday that top campus leaders undermined her efforts to investigate sexual assault claims and were more concerned with protecting the Baylor “brand” than the students.

Patty Crawford told “CBS This Morning” that the university set her up “to fail from the beginning.” Crawford, who resigned Monday from her role enforcing the federal standards meant to prevent discrimination based on gender, said she received “resistance” from senior leadership but did not identify those leaders.

Baylor officials marginalized her by leaving her out of meetings, undermining her authority and making decisions that should be left to a school’s Title IX coordinator, she said. The treatment led her to file complaints with both the university and U.S. Department of Education’s office for civil rights. Charges that she was the victim of retaliation are included in those complaints.

“I never had the authority, the resources or the independence to do the job appropriately,” she said.

Baylor has received a storm of criticism over claims it mishandled sexual assault cases for several years. An outside review determined school administrators contributed to a “hostile” environment against assault victims. The scandal drew broad attention in large part because former football players were convicted of sexually assaulting women, and an independent review by the Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton determined the football program operated as it if were above the rules. Coach Art Briles was fired earlier this year, as was the athletic director, and President Ken Starr was removed from his post by regents and he later resigned as chancellor.

Baylor said in a statement that Crawford went public with her grievances only after the school rejected a demand for $1 million and retention of book and film rights.

“Baylor University was surprised by the action taken by Patty Crawford given her public comments in August about the strong support she felt from across the University,” the statement said.

In August, Crawford talked with the Waco Tribune-Herald about her job and the changes Baylor was implementing. In that interview, she said, “I would not have stayed at Baylor through this, something from before I was here, if I didn’t know and be encouraged and understand that I still have authority and opportunities to build the best.”

Crawford’s attorney, Rogge Dunn, who appeared with her on the network, said her federal complaint led to a mediation session with the university Monday and that Baylor has broken Texas law by revealing some aspects of the session. State law requires that mediation details remain confidential, he said.

“In a desperate attempt to smear Patty, what they’ve done is violated Texas law,” Dunn said.

In later comments to The Associated Press, he cited the law in declining to discuss the hearing, but said Crawford is not seeking financial compensation from Baylor and has no plans to seek a film or book deal.

Dunn told AP that the number of sex assault complaints that were lodged since Crawford began as the Title IX coordinator in late 2014 increased by the “hundreds.” Awareness campaigns helped, he said, but students also came to learn that Crawford’s office would listen to their allegations and then follow up. Before Baylor hired a Title IX coordinator, charges of assault were lodged with different administrators and offices, and too often not taken seriously, Dunn said.

While much of the attention about assaults on campus has focused on football players, Crawford says the problem is broader, according to Dunn.

“She thinks the Baylor administration thought if they could make athletics the scapegoat then they could say, ‘OK, problem solved.'”

He added, “The problem was not solved by cleaning house with athletics.”

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