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Baylor University faces US probe over response to sex assaults

Burleson Quadrangle, the historic heart of Baylor University's campus in Waco, Texas, is named for Rufus C. Burleson, who served twice as president, from 1851-1861 and 1886-1897. For use with RNS-BAYLOR-UNIV, transmitted on Feb. 3, 2015; Photo courtesy of Robert Rogers/Baylor Marketing and Communications
Burleson Quadrangle, the historic heart of Baylor University's campus in Waco, Texas, is named for Rufus C. Burleson, who served twice as president, from 1851-1861 and 1886-1897. Photo courtesy of Robert Rogers/Baylor Marketing and Communications

Burleson Quadrangle, the historic heart of Baylor University’s campus in Waco, Texas, is named for Rufus C. Burleson, who served twice as president, from 1851-1861 and 1886-1897. Photo courtesy of Robert Rogers/Baylor Marketing and Communications

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) The U.S. Department of Education has launched an investigation into Baylor University’s response to sexual violence on campus, acting on a complaint filed by the school’s former administrator responsible for looking into sexual assault complaints.

Baylor, the world’s largest Baptist university, has been rocked by a scandal over whether it failed to do enough to prevent and investigate sexual assaults against women by football players and others that led to the ouster of the school’s president and its football coach.

The federal investigation was disclosed by the Department of Education and by the lawyer representing Patty Crawford, who resigned this month as Baylor’s Title IX coordinator and accused the university of retaliating against her for being too forceful in looking into sexual assault claims. Baylor is located in Waco in central Texas.

Title IX is a section of a U.S. education law that protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.

Crawford filed the complaint with the department’s Office for Civil Rights after being denied resources and cut out of the loop in Baylor’s investigations of suspected Title IX violations, Rogge Dunn, her Dallas-based lawyer, said on Thursday (Oct. 20).

“Baylor undermined the authority of its Title IX coordinator,” Dunn said in an interview, adding the probe indicates the office found Crawford’s complaints credible and warranting further investigation.

Baylor said in a statement it will fully cooperate with the federal investigation.

“Baylor has undergone a comprehensive assessment of its response to sexual violence resulting in the adoption of 105 recommendations for improvement,” interim President David Garland said in a statement

“Should the OCR identify additional areas of improvement, we will work on those immediately,” he added.

Baylor in May ousted Kenneth Starr as university president and Art Briles as its football coach after an independent report found that administrators mishandled sexual abuse cases involving football players.

Starr, the former independent counsel who investigated Bill Clinton during his presidency, has said he was unaware of what was happening at the school but still accepted responsibility.

In March, a female former student at Baylor brought a negligence lawsuit in federal court against the school, claiming it acted callously and indifferently after she was raped by a Baylor football player.

Separately, former Baylor football player Sam Ukwuachu was sentenced last year to six months in jail for sexually assaulting a female Baylor soccer player in 2013.

Department of Education spokeswoman Dorie Nolt said the civil rights office “will collect and analyze all relevant evidence to develop its findings.”

(Reuters)

About the author

David Gibson

David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS and an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He has written several books on Catholic topics. His latest book is on biblical artifacts: "Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery," which was also the basis of a popular CNN series.

2 Comments

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  • Shame on Baylor, shame on Baptists for not withdrawing support from Baylor. Baylor will not cooperate any more than the RCC cooperated with child abuse investigators.

    Males as a gender need to rise up and speak out in one voice of loud and clear condemnation of sexual assault for all kinds. The onus is on males because the are far and away the most frequent offenders. You, males, need to speak up and police your gender.

    Those of you who are appalled by sexual violence, and I assume that is most of you, need to get to work. Organize. Raise money. Lobby legislators and Congress. Write laws and press them on your representatives. Campaign for office on a platform of ending sexual violence. You have more clout than women and children put together.

    You know what to do. What’s wrong with you? Why aren’t you doing these things?

  • This is the same school that gave a 3 GAME suspension to Ishmael Zamora for seriously abusing and injuring a dog! If you write anything critical on their facebook page or BU’s facebook page, they demean you and then block you! REAL CHRISTIAN!!!

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