Former Baylor University football players and one current football player were named in numerous Waco police reports between 2011 and 2015, according to an ESPN “Outside the Lines” report.
Baylor officials, including coaches, were aware of the alleged incidents, the report said, adding that police shielded one report from public view.
Waco police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton called the ESPN report “sensationalism in journalism” and explained that a narrative of a 2011 police report was removed from the typical records system to protect the integrity of the case. He also said high-profile cases such as these, and officer-involved shootings, will have a narrative pulled from a report so others with access to the records system, including officers and office clerks, do not see them.
Swanton said the ESPN report’s authors do not understand the police department’s records system.
“It is incorrect. It is inaccurate. They are not ‘extraordinary steps,’ ” Swanton said, referring to the ESPN report, which said police took “extraordinary steps” to keep the report from public view.
The news comes days after Baylor’s governing body received a “comprehensive briefing from Pepper Hamilton LLP” regarding the law firm’s findings on Baylor’s response to reports of sexual and interpersonal violence. Baylor officials declined to release publicly the long-awaited reports despite community outcries for transparency. Baylor officials also barred two Tribune-Herald reporters from the building where the board of regents met. Baylor has traditionally allowed access to the building where regents meet, though not into the meetings themselves.
Baylor President Ken Starr’s office said he was in a meeting and referred questions to Baylor spokeswoman Lori Fogleman.
Fogleman said the university cannot comment on specific cases but emailed a statement:
“The assessment and recommendations from Pepper Hamilton are currently under review by our Board of Regents. We are certain the actions that result from this deliberative process will yield improvements across a variety of areas that rebuild and reinforce confidence in our University. We are saddened when any student, including a student-athlete, acts in a manner inconsistent with Baylor’s mission or is a victim of such behavior.”
According to the ESPN report, a female Baylor student in April 2014 told Waco police that Baylor running back Devin Chafin grabbed her by the throat, slammed her against the wall, threw her to the floor and kicked her. Criminal charges were not pressed, the report said. Chafin was arrested on a marijuana possession charge in March and was suspended by head coach Art Briles for spring practices. He is expected to be reinstated when summer drills begin.
In 2011, three football players were charged in an assault at an off-campus, university event, the report said.
Defensive lineman Gary Mason, running back Isaac Williams and cornerback Tyler Stephenson were named by a male Baylor student in the assault, according to the report. The student told police in the hospital that the three hit him as he was trying to enter his car. The student didn’t tell police when police first saw him because he thought nothing would be done because they were football players, the ESPN story said.
Due to unrelated factors, the student died Aug. 8, 2012, the report said.
Mason and Stephenson were arrested on misdemeanor assault charges in June 2011, but the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute, according to the report.
The police report was locked in a Waco Police Department office after an officer told Baylor police about the incident, the ESPN story said. The “Outside the Lines” report states a Baylor officer provided Waco police with player information and phone numbers.
In April 2012, Stephenson was named in another police report alleging physical violence against his girlfriend, the story said. An officer closed the case when the woman did not return phone messages, though he had prepared an arrest warrant, ESPN reported.
It is unclear whether Stephenson faced any discipline from coaches in that incident.
Baylor officials have declined to answer multiple requests from the Tribune-Herald in recent months to reveal what Briles, Athletics Director Ian McCaw and Starr knew about reports of several recent football players being investigated or arrested for sexual assault allegations, or when they were informed of the allegations.
Mason, 26, of Waxahachie, earned a degree from Baylor in general studies in December 2012, according to Baylor University’s athletics website. The website does not list a degree for Williams, 26, of Los Angeles. Stephenson, 24, of Lancaster, graduated in May 2014 with a degree in speech communication, according to the university’s website.
For four years, Waco police have kept active a sexual assault allegation against former football player Ahmad Dixon, according to the ESPN report. Dixon told ESPN the allegations were false, as the woman was mad at him, according to the report. The woman also admitted to fabricating her claims, the report said.
Swanton told ESPN that he could not say why the allegation against Dixon remains active.
The same woman in June 2011 was involved in another domestic violence incident with Dixon, the ESPN report said. A neighbor called 911 and reported seeing Dixon pull the woman’s hair and push her into a car, the report said. They both denied that happened.
In September 2013, Dixon was arrested for a misdemeanor assault after he allegedly punched a man Dixon thought had stolen his TV. He was not indicted.
In 2011, Dixon was involved in a series of fights at a university-approved party, according to the ESPN report. Dixon admitted to punching a fraternity member who had tried to stop him from breaking into a line dance, and later, another fight occurred, the report said.
In October 2015, Dixon was arrested after being pulled over for driving 30 mph over the speed limit with a license carrying 22 suspensions, according to Tribune-Herald reports. Waco police said at the time the active suspensions on his license dated back to 2011 and were the result of insurance issues.
Baylor has attracted national attention as leaders have repeatedly refused to comment on cases coming into public eye.
Former Baylor football player Sam Ukwuachu was convicted in August 2015 of sexual assault. A year earlier, former Baylor football player Tevin Elliott was convicted of twice raping a now-former Baylor student in April 2012.
In April, former football player Shawn Oakman was arrested for the alleged sexual assault of a woman at his off-campus apartment.
A former Baylor University men’s tennis player is named as the lone suspect in a sexual assault case that has been active for more than eight months. The Tribune-Herald is not naming the suspect because he has not been arrested.
Two other former football players were accused of sexually assaulting a woman after a party in 2013.
Briles did not respond to a phone call or an email request Wednesday.
McCaw did not reply to a phone message left Wednesday but referred questions to Fogleman in an email, as he has repeatedly done in recent months.