Baylor University repeatedly failed to properly investigate allegations of sexual violence involving football players and denied the alleged victims the federally mandated basics of institutional support, according to a grim and all-too-familiar ESPN report.
The exposé focuses on the school’s response in the case of two predators, defensive ends Tevin Elliott and Sam Ukwuachu, who currently are in prison on sexual assault convictions.
It is but a microcosm of a deeply embedded problem: The sexual assault nurse examiner for McLennan County said she sees about eight Baylor students a year, and Baylor athletes make up between 25 and 50 percent of the alleged perpetrators. Most of the incidents are never reported to authorities.
A young woman identified as Tanya was one of five women who reported to police she was raped or assaulted by Elliott in incidents over a three-year span from October 2009 to April 2012. She was raped repeatedly by Elliott in the mud outside a house party when she was a Baylor freshman. She says she approached campus police, the student health center and an academic services group for assistance.
“They didn’t just not respond; they responded by turning me away and telling me that it was not possible for me to receive help from them,” Tanya told ESPN.
A sixth woman, identified as Kim, confided she had been raped by Elliott to Baylor’s chief judicial officer, Bethany McCraw, who reportedly told her Briles was aware of multiple claims against Elliott and discouraged her from pursuing a restraining order.
“She said, ‘Yes, they know about it, but it turns into a he said-she said, so there’s got to be, actually a court decision in order to act on it in any sort of way,’ ” Kim told ESPN.
Elliott, serving a 20-year sentence, continues to deny the assaults and insist the sex with his accusers was consensual.
“You know college athletes go through this all the time,” he told ESPN. “At the end of the day, the finger is going to be pointed at us because we are the big athletes. Far from having the situation addressed by Briles, Elliott said: “I just kept playing ball, kept going to school.”
Ukwuachu was convicted last year of raping a Baylor soccer player in October 2013, shortly after he transferred from Boise State. Ukwuachu sat out the 2014 season for undocumented reasons while Baylor officials conducted an internal investigation into the alleged assault and cleared him of wrongdoing.
“I wouldn’t call it an investigation,” said Hilary LaBorde, who prosecuted the Elliott and Ukwuachu cases in court as McLennan County assistant district attorney. “They didn’t have someone that seemed to know anything about how college rape occurs.”
Ukwuachu, like Elliott, remains unrepentant as he sits behind bars for his crime.
“A Baylor University investigation cleared me and allowed me to graduate because they caught my accuser in multiple lies pertaining to the events that happened the night of the alleged incident as well as our previous encounter during their investigation,” he wrote in a statement.
Patty Crawford, the university’s new Title IX coordinator, told ESPN she could not address past incidents and, as if it’s any comfort to the victims, or to the daughters and sisters who currently attend the school, said Baylor has hired an outside consultant to review its handling of those cases.
Bottom line. Things are not right in Waco at Baylor with the behavior of their student athletes.