Baylor University officials did not offer specifics of changes made to its procedures for handling sexual assault allegations in recent years, after three former students claimed in an “Outside the Lines” report ESPN aired Sunday that they were sexually assaulted while at the school and offered little to no help by Baylor.
The ESPN report said five women have claimed they were sexually assaulted by former Baylor football player Tevin Elliott between October 2009 and April 2012, and the three who spoke said they were not supported by Baylor.
The report ignited a firestorm of criticism aimed at Baylor, but the university remains quiet in responding to the allegations.
This week, a Baylor spokeswoman cited an ongoing investigation in not commenting further on procedural changes.
In September 2015, Baylor’s board of regents hired attorneys Gina Smith and Leslie Gomez of Philadelphia-based Pepper Hamilton LLP to investigate how the university handled an allegation of sexual assault in 2013 against former Baylor football player Sam Ukwuachu. It remains unclear whether results from the review will be released publicly.
Pepper Hamilton spokesman Dan Pulka said in an email he expects the review to continue into the spring semester. Pulka said the review includes “interviews with administrators and former students and extensive collection and review of relevant documents.”
‘Follow the facts’
“As in every review, we will follow the facts where they lead us and are committed to a careful, thorough and exacting investigative approach,” Pulka said. “When we have concluded our review, we will offer findings and recommendations to the special committee of the board.”
Baylor President Ken Starr has said the attorneys “will help us pinpoint where we are strong and where we need to make improvements to ensure the highest degree of integrity to protect the safety and welfare of all our students.”
Baylor hired Patty Crawford in November 2014 as Title IX coordinator.
“Baylor has assembled an outstanding team of Title IX professionals to support Patty, and we have made tremendous strides in training and fostering increased reporting, including using dedicated and trained Title IX investigators and external adjudicators from the legal community, reinforcing interim measures as Title IX investigations proceed, and training faculty and staff in their Title IX responsibilities,” a statement from Baylor released Monday said.
A public awareness campaign, “It’s on Us,” has been promoted by Baylor Athletics, and athletes from the university’s 19 sports have been trained in seminars by Crawford. Both Crawford and the Baylor Police Department did not respond to phone calls from the Tribune-Herald.
The ESPN report said Elliott’s first victim, who was allegedly assaulted in 2009, came forward after hearing of Ukwuachu’s conviction in August 2015. Ukwuachu was convicted of sexually assaulting a Baylor freshman soccer player after a party in October 2013. He was sentenced to 10 years felony probation and 180 days in county jail. He has filed an appeal and was released in October 2015 after posting a $100,000 appeal bond.
During the trial, prosecutor Hilary LaBorde criticized Baylor’s investigation, specifically efforts made by Bethany McCraw, associate dean for student conduct administration. LaBorde asked McCraw why she did not review a report from a nurse who performed the sexual assault examination and why she did not interview a Baylor psychologist who met with the victim.
In 2014, Elliott was sentenced to 20 years in prison on two counts of sexually assaulting a former Baylor student in 2012.