Legal Battles

Baylor Continues to Flail in Response to Sexual Assault Scandal

The hole Baylor University is in due to the sexual assault scandal that has enveloped its football program is getting deeper. So far this week, the university's Title IX coordinator has resigned due to inaction from the university, two more women have joined a federal lawsuit against Baylor and a group of football boosters has announced plans for a blackout protest in support of deposed head football coach Art Briles.

Patty Crawford was hired by Baylor in November 2014, three years after the U.S. Department of Education told universities to designate or hire someone to coordinate Title IX issues on campus. She was thrust into the spotlight earlier this year after findings from Pepper Hamilton — a law firm contracted by the school to investigate several sexual assaults by Briles' players — were made public.

Pepper Hamilton's report included 105 recommendations for the school to improve the way it deals with sexual assault on campus, things like offering institutional apologies to victims of sexual violence on campus and ensuring proper reporting of campus incidents to law enforcement agencies outside the university. Crawford, according to a university statement, was dissatisfied with the way those recommendations were being handled.  

"Baylor University tonight announces the resignation of Patty Crawford as the University’s Title IX Coordinator. Our understanding is that Patty was disappointed in her role in implementing the recommendations that resulted from the Pepper Hamilton investigation," the school said late Monday night. "The University is grateful for Patty’s leadership in establishing fair and equitable Title IX processes that are also supportive of the needs of survivors. We will always seek to continuously improve and are confident that the very capable Title IX staff will continue the important work of educating, supporting and responding to the needs of those impacted by interpersonal violence."

Crawford's resignation came on the heels of the two unnamed women becoming the seventh and eighth plaintiff's against the university in a lawsuit that alleges that the university did not do enough after the plaintiffs were sexually assaulted on campus.

Jane Doe 7, as she's named in the lawsuit, said in a court filing that she was raped by two Baylor students during her second semester on campus, in May 2009. She told her neighbor, who was a Baylor-employed physician about the incident. The doctor performed a rape examination, the suit says, and found that Jane Doe 7 had been raped.

The next week, Doe 7 told student services and a professor about the incident.

“One professor told Jane Doe 7 that her sexual assault was not really assault,” the lawsuit says. Doe 7 says she then performed poorly on exams and lost a scholarship, causing her to rack up $25,000 in student debt she wouldn't have otherwise.

Jane Doe 8 was attacked in March 2015, according to the lawsuit. She told a professor, who reported the incident to the Title IX office. The office contacted Doe 8, but didn't conduct an investigation, the suit says.

Like the university itself, Briles is a key player in the lawsuit. Jasmin Hernandez, the only named plaintiff in the lawsuit, was raped by Baylor football player Tevin Elliott on April 15, 2012.

Briles was dumped by the university after the release of the Pepper Hamilton report. Ever since, football boosters and fans have, despite Briles' having presided over a program found to have actively silenced victims by the law firm, pushed for the coach's return to the sidelines.

On Nov. 4, the boosters' protests will take their most visible form yet. Briles' supporters will wear black shirts emblazoned with his image.

The shirts are being sold by a booster group called Baylor Revolution, which says Briles is being unfairly targeted for a nationwide problem. 

"For too long, Baylor has been attacked by the regional and national media bent on her destruction. National epidemics being pushed as a Baylor-only problem will not go unchallenged any longer. The landscape of college athletics, rooted in the almighty dollar run by media goliaths, is not fond of Baylor Football’s emergence," the anonymous group says in its mission statement. "Facing a playing field tilted against them, it’s time our coaches and athletes had an unyielding advocate. The future of Baylor clouded in questionable decision making and one public relations disaster after another simply must change."
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young

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