Baylor University

Baylor University and a former financial aid staffer resolved a lawsuit in which the staffer claimed she faced retaliation for reinstating the scholarship of a former football player accused of sexual assault.

Staff photo — Rod Aydelotte, file

The U.S. Department of Education is opening another investigation into Baylor University, this one focusing on the school’s annual compiling of crimes reported on campus.

The DOE will review the crime statistics Baylor is required to publish every year, along with the university’s drug and alcohol abuse prevention program and other safety and security-related materials, Vice President for Facilities and Operations Brian Nicholson said in an email to faculty and staff Friday. The review will start in about two weeks, a university spokesman said.

Baylor’s office of general counsel will hire Margolis Healy & Associates, an education safety and consulting firm, to assist in the process, Nicholson said. The firm reviewed Baylor’s student safety procedures in 2014, which led to the hiring of the university’s first full-time Title IX coordinator and other efforts.

The DOE’s Office for Civil Rights opened an investigation in October into Baylor’s compliance with Title IX. The new DOE investigation will look at the school’s compliance with the Clery Act.

The Clery Act requires universities to publish an annual list of the number of crimes reported on university property and adjacent streets and sidewalks.

Baylor’s most-recent Clery report lists 23 reported rapes in 2015, up from six reported rapes in the 2014 report. Baylor listed five reported forcible sexual offenses in 2013, two in 2012 and none between 2009 and 2011. In 2014, the DOE started requiring the category of forcible sex acts to be divided into the categories of rape, fondling, incest and statutory rape.

The DOE’s Clery review is the latest fallout from a sexual assault scandal that led to the removal of Baylor President Ken Starr and head football coach Art Briles. The university also faces six Title IX lawsuits, a Texas Rangers investigation, the federal Title IX investigation, an NCAA investigation, an upcoming Big 12 review and an accreditation agency warning. Baylor-inspired state legislation and an increasingly frustrated base of donors and alumni have further pressured the university’s regents.

The almost fourfold increase in rapes reported was published in October, after Starr’s and Briles’ removal, but the crimes would have happened before the officials were removed.

‘Full cooperation’

“Baylor has extended our full cooperation with this DOE review, as it provides another opportunity to demonstrate the significant enhancements that have been made within the Baylor University Police Department and the Department of Public Safety for the benefit of our students, faculty, staff and guests, as well as in the administration of the Clery Act,” Nicholson said in the email to faculty and staff.

Baylor Clery Compliance Manager Shelley Deats took the position in February 2015.

When Baylor first hired Margolis Healy & Associates in 2014, the review led to Baylor creating its Department of Public Safety, which oversees and coordinates the work of the Baylor Police Department and efforts focused on emergency preparedness, technology security, fire safety and parking and transportation.

In May 2016, Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton found a ”fundamental failure” in Baylor’s Title IX implementation and a football program operating “above the rules,” regents reported. Baylor has completed the vast majority of 105 recommendations from Pepper Hamilton to improve its institutional response to sexual violence.

In the recommendations, Pepper Hamilton attorneys suggested that Baylor update its Clery analysis and assess its reporting obligations.

In November, the DOE fined Penn State University almost $2.4 million for Clery Act violations related to a child sexual abuse scandal involving former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. Before November, the highest penalty levied by the DOE for a Clery violation was a $350,000 fine to Eastern Michigan University in 2008, Inside Higher Ed reported.

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

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