Attorneys for 15 women suing Baylor University have asked a federal judge to order the Pepper Hamilton law firm to produce what they claim is a draft report of its Baylor sexual assault investigation mentioned in emails from 2016.
In a 12-page motion filed Thursday evening, attorneys Jim Dunnam and Chad Dunn also asked U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman to sanction the Philadelphia-based law firm up to $5,000 a week if it does not turn over items referred to in emails from May 2016.
Baylor regents, who hired Pepper Hamilton to investigate how the university handled sexual assault allegations and complied with Title IX requirements, have asserted the law firm produced no report of its investigation.
Baylor spokesman Jason Cook said Friday that the Baylor Board of Regents consulted with several attorneys relating to the preparation of what the board called its “Findings of Fact,” which it released on May 26, 2016.
“We believe this reference they are speaking of is in relation to the Findings of Fact,” Cook said. “That was a document that was made public, as well.”
The emails referred to in the attorneys’ motion and the “Findings of Fact” were generated within days of the Baylor board firing head football coach Art Briles, removing Ken Starr as president and admitting the school’s “fundamental failure” in its response to sexual assault allegations.
The motion from the plaintiffs’ attorneys says that they received copies of the emails from the Pepper Hamilton attorneys from Baylor on April 10.
The e-mail messages reference “drafts of the overall findings and recommendations,” a “narrative of the findings and recommendations” and a “draft summary” to be provided by Pepper Hamilton, according to the motion.
Dunnam and Dunn write that their belief that “relevant and discoverable documents” regarding a Pepper Hamilton draft report exist “is not just some fantasy or speculation.”
“Plaintiffs, the court and the public have been led by Baylor to believe that Pepper Hamilton did not draft any report,” the attorneys wrote. “One regent testified that a small group of other regents drafted the report. But on April 10th, for the first time, we learn that there is some form of ‘Pepper Hamilton Report,’ that PH actually did draft a narrative and overall findings in connection with what became labeled the ‘Regents’ Findings.’ ”
The attorneys charge Pepper Hamilton with “wholesale ignoring” of their subpoenas despite the court’s “crystal clear orders” to comply. The emails from the law firm were included in documents that Baylor “magically located” last week, the attorneys claim.
“Where has this e-mail been for 2 years?” the attorneys asked in the motion. “And more importantly, where is the PH report, findings, narrative and draft summary referred to and why have they not been produced? Baylor’s practice of trickling out highly relevant documents only on the eve of deadlines set after hours of futile attorney conferences, and ultimately court intervention, appears never-ending.”
The motion seeks sanctions of $5,000 a week until Pepper Hamilton complies, asks the judge to set a deadline for compliance and suggests the sanctions double every four weeks until they reach a maximum of $80,000 per week until the production is complete.
A spokesman for Pepper Hamilton in Philadelphia did not immediately return phone calls Friday.