WACO, Texas (CN) — Baylor University confirmed Wednesday that it is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education for its handling of sexual assaults on campus, after its Title IX coordinator quit, saying she was set up “to fail from the beginning.”
Baylor said the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights notified it that it would investigate a complaint filed by former Title IX coordinator Patty Crawford.
Appearing with her attorney on CBS “This Morning” on Oct. 5, Crawford said she resigned due to her disappointment in her “role in implementing the recommendations that resulted” from a damning review by the Pepper Hamilton law firm of how the school bungled sexual assault complaints by students, particularly those against football players.
“In its notification letter, OCR indicates the opening of an investigation in no way implies that a determination regarding the merits of the claim has been made,” Baylor said in its statement Wednesday. “We embrace and support OCR’s goal to maintain a campus free from sex and gender-based harassment and violence.”
Ordered by the school’s board of regents in August 2015 as the rape allegations and lawsuits mounted, Pepper Hamilton’s review concluded that administrators “directly discouraged” some women from reporting sexual assault and in one case retaliated against a woman for reporting.
The board reacted quickly when the review’s results were announced in May, demoting school President Ken Starr, sanctioning athletic director Ian McCaw and firing popular head football coach Art Briles.
McCaw resigned within days and Starr later quit his remaining positions as chancellor and a member of the law school faculty.
Members of the board apologized to the alleged rape victims and promised to implement Pepper Hamilton’s recommendations, but Crawford said she believes Baylor did nothing to investigate her concerns about how sexual assault investigations were handled.
“The harder I worked, the more resistance I got,” she told CBS. “I was being retaliated against for fighting discrimination.”
Baylor is facing several Title IX lawsuits from students who say administrators failed to respond appropriately to their rape claims. It is trying to settle a federal lawsuit filed in April by former student Jasmin Hernandez, who says school counselors told her they were “too busy” to see her after she was raped by former football player Tevin Elliott.
Elliott was sentenced in January 2014 to 20 years in state prison on each of two counts of sexual assault.
Hernandez said her mother called coach Briles to tell him what Elliott had done and then received a phone call from his secretary saying they would look into it.
“Hernandez’s father also called Briles’ office several times to follow up,” Hernandez said in her lawsuit. “Hernandez’s father never received a return phone call from Briles or anyone in his office.”
The board of regents confirmed in May that football coaches and staff members “met directly with a complainant and/or a parent of a complainant and did not report the misconduct,” resulting in no action being taken.
Hernandez’s lawsuit came three months after Baylor settled similar claims from a student who said she was sexually assaulted by former football player Sam Ukwuachu. No lawsuit was filed in that case.
Ukwuachu was sentenced in 2015 to 180 days in county jail, 10 years of probation and 400 hours of community service.
Briles was heavily criticized for recruiting him as a transfer from Boise State University, where he had faced allegations of violence against women.
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