Baylor campus

Baylor submitted court documents Wednesday to support its claim that former interim President David Garland's instruction to an athletics administrator to delete emails was related to Big 12 expansion talks, not the school's sexual assault scandal.

Staff photo — Rod Aydelotte, file

Former Baylor University interim President David Garland’s instruction to an athletics administrator to erase emails was unrelated to the school’s sexual assault scandal, the university charged in a legal filing Wednesday night.

Baylor submitted more emails from the June 2016 conversation to support its claim that “Garland was concerned about properly complying with the security procedures that the Big 12 implemented to protect its proprietary information.”

Ten women suing the university under Title IX asserted last week that Garland told then-athletics administrator Todd Patulski to delete emails related to the scandal. Hours after the plaintiff’s filing, Baylor said it had reviewed records and found that the emails Garland told Patulski to delete were related to Big 12 expansion talks.

Documents Baylor submitted Wednesday show Garland and Patulski exchanged emails about trouble Garland had accessing documents related to the Big 12 meetings they recently attended.

Because the emails were unrelated to sexual assault, and because they were not reviewed by Pepper Hamilton LLP during its 2015-16 investigation into Baylor’s response to sexual assault reports, the plaintiffs’ accusations of a cover-up are false, the university said. Baylor had announced a summary of Pepper Hamilton’s completed investigation a month before the emails were sent.

A university spokesman declined further comment for this story.

The plaintiffs also said last week that two high-ranking administrators discussed then-Title IX Coordinator Patty Crawford preparing to shred documents.

According to Baylor’s filing Wednesday, the subject of the message was Pattie Orr, who was vice president for information technology and dean of university libraries.

“Given the seriousness of plaintiffs’ accusation and given the fact that discovery is ongoing, it was incumbent upon plaintiffs to conduct a thorough investigation before presenting such an accusation as fact,” Baylor’s attorneys wrote.

Waco attorney Jim Dunnam and Houston attorney Chad Dunn represent the 10 former students who say Baylor denied them educational opportunities after they were sexually assaulted.

Dunn told the Tribune-Herald he has collected evidence from “various sources” showing Baylor has a history of destroying documents.

“As for Dr. Garland’s instruction to erase emails, all I can say is that contemporaneous Baylor records demonstrate that at least one of the parties involved didn’t think the direction to erase emails had anything to do with the Big 12,” Dunn said, referring to a note Patulski wrote for himself the day of the communication.

“Interim President sent this email to me,” Patulski wrote, according to last week’s filing. “No follow up communication transpired to this particular email. Due to the unusual nature, I kept a copy.”

Patulski is now a deputy athletics director at Liberty University. He did not respond to a request for comment last week.

Dunn said Baylor can weave any story it wants without testimony of the people involved.

“We’ll let the evidence speak for itself,” he said.

A trial in the lawsuit is tentatively scheduled for October.

Phillip has covered higher education for the Tribune-Herald since November 2015.

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