Ken Starr, former Baylor president and Clinton investigator, dies at 76

Ken Starr at The Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 23, 2017. Credit: Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Ken Starr, a former Baylor University president who was best known for his role in the investigation that led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton has died at the age of 76. He was born in Vernon and died in Houston of complications related to surgery, according to a statement from the family.

In the 1990s he was tasked with investigating the real estate investments of Bill and Hillary Clinton and their associates in the Whitewater scandal in the 1990s. That investigation branched into then-President Bill Clinton’s alleged affair with staffer Monica Lewinsky.

The investigation was marred with controversy. Starr, a Republican, was widely accused of political bias in the probe. However, after initially denying the affair, Clinton admitted to having sexual relations with Lewinsky. Starr’s final report on the scandal charged Clinton with lying to Congress and abusing his presidential powers.

The Clinton ordeal would not be the last time Starr would find himself in an uncomfortable spotlight.

- FWBP Digital Partners -

Starr presided over Baylor University when 15 current and former female students filed a lawsuit against the school, claiming they had been raped or assaulted by fellow students. The scandal, including the school suppressing reports of rape and sexual misconduct, led to a mass exodus of leadership at the university, including the resignation of Starr in 2016.

The scandal has hung over the university, particularly its lucrative football program, ever since. Two football players were convicted of rape in the aftermath of the scandal and the school’s longtime head football coach was fired.

The university’s current president, Linda A. Livingstone, mourned Starr’s death in a press release from the school Tuesday.

“Judge Starr was a dedicated public servant and ardent supporter of religious freedom that allows faith-based institutions such as Baylor to flourish,” Livingstone said. “Ken and I served together as Deans at Pepperdine University in the 2000s, and I appreciated him as a Constitutional law scholar and a fellow academician who believed in the transformative power of higher education.”

- Advertisement -

In 2020, Starr joined former President Donald Trump’s defense team for his first impeachment trial in the Senate. Trump was acquitted by the Senate, but several Republicans voted for his removal from office.

Starr was also in private practice and was on the defense team of yet another controversial figure — Jeffrey Epstein. In 2008, after being accused of crimes including sex trafficking, Starr helped the billionaire secure a plea deal of solicitation.

Starr was a Reagan judicial appointee and was President George H.W. Bush’s solicitor general. He argued 36 cases in front of the Supreme Court in his career.

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune.