WACO, Texas (CN) - Baylor University is defending itself from mounting accusations of failing to adequately investigate students' claims of rape by former football players, citing a pending "comprehensive external review" by the Pepper Hamilton law firm.
In a Sunday letter to the Baylor community, Baylor President Ken Starr said attorneys were on campus in the fall and are meeting with administrators and students and reviewing school documents.
"Baylor has provided unfettered access to Pepper Hamilton to any information requested, and we will continue to cooperate fully with their comprehensive review," Starr wrote. "We have requested, and we expect, a frank and candid assessment that both addresses past practices and offers forward-looking recommendations. We trust that this report will serve as a beacon for self-awareness on our continuing journey toward an even stronger and safer community."
In August last year Baylor said it would hire outside counsel to investigate sexual assault claims against former football player Sam Ukwuachu .
A McLennan County (Waco) jury on Aug. 21 convicted Ukwuachu of sexually assaulting a former Baylor women's soccer player. He was sentenced to 180 days in county jail, 10 years probation and 400 hours of community service.
Ukwuachu was a 2013 transfer from Boise State University.
Head football coach Art Briles and school administrators faced intense criticism about whether they knew of accusations of Ukwuachu's violence against women when the transfer was approved.
In January this year, attorneys for a former student who accused Ukwuachu of sexual assault announced a settlement with Baylor
Starr said the school will "determine how best to share the firm's recommendations" when the investigation is complete. He cited constraints of federal privacy laws regarding information to be shared for "both short-term improvements and measures that may require longer-term implementation."
Fresh outrage was stoked last week when ESPN reported on several allegations that "school officials either failed to investigate, or adequately investigate" rape claims and failed to provide support to those who reported assaults.
In one case, an unidentified student claimed she was raped twice by former football player Tevin Elliott. She claimed campus police told her there was nothing they could do for her because the alleged assault happened off campus. She said Baylor's student health center turned her away when she sought counseling, and academic services refused to help her as her grades suffered.
ESPN reported that at least five women accused Elliott of raping or assaulting them between October 2009 and April 2012.
It's an ironic situation for Starr, who led the investigation of President Bill Clinton's sexual transgressions, which led to Clinton's impeachment, which he survived.
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