Baylor declined to respond to reports Tuesday that President and Chancellor Kenneth Starr, best known for his investigation of the Clinton administration, has been fired by the Board of Regents in the wake of a sexual assault scandal involving the school and its football team.
Starr did not immediately return an email request from The Post seeking comment Tuesday. Efforts to reach the chairman of the university’s Board of Regents, Richard Willis, were unsuccessful. As of early Tuesday afternoon, the university’s website made no mention of any change in Starr’s status, though later the school issued this statement:
Statement from Baylor RE: Ken Starr's reported firing and additional reports stemming from the investigation. pic.twitter.com/eXuknOoQK2
— Adam Silverstein (@SilversteinAdam) May 24, 2016
On Starr’s watch, the school is accused of failing to respond to rapes or sexual assaults reported by at least six women students from 2009-2016. Although the problem of sexual assault at the university goes beyond the football team, at least eight former Baylor football players have been accused of violence against women over the last eight years and Coach Art Briles and Athletic Director Ian McCaw have received increasing criticism. The regents, according to Brown, believe Starr bears more responsibility in the matter than Briles.
The reported move comes as the board is preparing to examine and address the findings of a law firm hired to review how the school handled the rape and assault allegations.
In late March, Jasmin Hernandez filed a lawsuit against the board, Briles and McCaw, claiming school officials ignored her attempts to report and seek justice after being raped by then-football player Tevin Elliot in 2012.
The lawsuit claims that Hernandez’s mother’s inquiry to the school regarding their mental health services was shot down, saying “they were too busy” to see her daughter. It goes on to say that this happened twice more and that she was told, according to the lawsuit, by academic services that “even if a plane falls on your daughter, there’s nothing we can do to help you.”
Elliott is serving a 20-year sentence for raping Hernandez after his January 2014 conviction. Sam Ukwuachu, a Boise State football transfer who never played at Baylor, has been convicted of raping a female soccer player.
The school has said it has committed $5 million to efforts to change how it responds to sexual assault reports. Those include adding another investigator and more staff to the school’s Title IX office.
Starr came under fire in a Dallas Morning News report for focusing on football rather than sexual assaults.
And as the sex-assault scandal has grown to encompass at least eight alleged attacks involving football players, two of whom have been convicted in criminal court here, his oddly timed written statements have grown more legalistic. Even at this conservative and sports-mad college, students say they are frustrated by the muted response of the Baylor administration, which the 69-year-old Starr has led for the past six years. “They should be stepping up more,” said Audrey Hamlin, 20, a sophomore from outside Austin who recently joined a student group on campus sexual violence. “They should completely back up the victims, and that should be evident in their actions.” If Starr wanted to set an example of the Christian values the school professes to follow, she said, “he’d be saying a lot more than he is.”
Starr was named president and chancellor of the nation’s largest Baptist university in June 2010 after becoming a household name when he served as the Whitewater independent counsel and investigated former President Bill Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky in the 1990s.
In an odd bit of timing, Starr recently praised Clinton, almost, according to the New York Times, “seeming to absolve” the former president and calling him “the most gifted politician of the baby boomer generation.”
“There are certain tragic dimensions which we all lament,” he said during a panel discussion on the presidency at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. “That having been said, the idea of this redemptive process afterwards, we have certainly seen that powerfully” in Clinton’s post-presidency.
Starr went on to say of Clinton: “His genuine empathy for human beings is absolutely clear. It is powerful, it is palpable and the folks of Arkansas really understood that about him — that he genuinely cared. The ‘I feel your pain’ is absolutely genuine.”