The Texas Rangers have started a preliminary investigation into Baylor University’s sexual assault scandal.

State Rep. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, said the Rangers started their work Tuesday night, and a Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman confirmed they have started a preliminary investigation, working with local prosecutors.

Gutierrez filed a resolution last week calling for the action.

On Monday, he and three other lawmakers criticized Baylor administrators, regents and police officers for their roles in the scandal that has lasted more than a year and a half.

“It is nice to know that people are listening,” Gutierrez said on an ESPN radio show Wednesday. “They went off and had some preliminary investigations, made some phone calls within the Waco, Texas, community, and they felt there was enough, just on the surface, enough by some of their own admissions within the Pepper Hamilton report to go forward.”

Gutierrez referred to a 13-page document regents released in May related to the nine-month investigation conducted by Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton LLP. The board also fired Ken Starr as president and Art Briles as head football coach on May 26. Ian McCaw resigned as athletics director days later.

In the wake of the scandal, lawmakers, prominent donors and alumni have made an outcry for transparency and more information about the university’s failings.

The Texas Rangers will work with the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office as they start looking into Baylor, Department of Public Safety spokesman Tom Vinger wrote in a statement.

“The Texas Rangers are working with the local prosecutor to conduct a preliminary investigation to determine if further action is warranted,” Vinger wrote.

‘Full cooperation’

In response to the Texas Rangers investigation, a Baylor spokeswoman said the university will give investigators their cooperation.

“Baylor University pledges to extend our full cooperation with the Texas Rangers surrounding the issue of sexual assaults that occurred with our campus community several years ago, as we have done with other external inquiries that are currently underway,” the spokeswoman wrote.

Messages for McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna were not returned by Monday night.

Gutierrez said he learned details of Baylor’s scandal from a November “60 Minutes Sports” segment. The show featured former Title IX Coordinator Patty Crawford, who said she never had the “authority, resources or independence” to do the job she started in November 2014.

Baylor officials have denied her claims, saying her office was fully funded and staffed.

Still, Gutierrez told ESPN that errors were made and university leaders need to be held accountable.

“Really, that whole entire board of regents needs to examine themselves,” Gutierrez told ESPN. “If they knew or should have known, then they shouldn’t be there anymore, and Baylor should have the opportunity to start over because it is a fine institution.”

Gutierrez also said he has received both positive and negative responses from fellow lawmakers since he filed the resolution Friday.

“Baylor failed, and they failed on multiple fronts and by their own admission they failed,” he said. “And it’s not that their apologies aren’t good enough. It’s just that the conduct over the last several months, over the last several years, no one has been able to truly get a very transparent look at what happened.”

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

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