A group of Texas lawmakers on Tuesday had called for the Rangers to investigate Baylor, and on Friday, state Rep. Roland Gutierrez filed a house resolution asking Gov. Greg Abbott to tap the agency. “Baylor University has resisted all efforts to provide the public with information which would reveal the conduct of senior administrators, and instead attempted to put the blame entirely on football coaches,” the resolution said.
“Baylor’s Police Department operated under authority of Texas statutes, yet Baylor University has successfully claimed it is not subject to the same Freedom of Information requests that apply to local police departments,” continued the resolution. “Although Baylor coaches certainly deserve blame, they are not solely responsible for the over 125 female students that were wrongfully treated.”
Baylor took issue Monday with the number of victims cited by the resolution, saying (via KWTX) it “is currently reviewing approximately 125 reports of sexual assault or harassment from 2011 to 2015. The school added, “This is a part of the 105 recommendations adopted by the university to evaluate patterns and trends as well as to identify victims who are still at Baylor and may need support or restorative assistance.”
“What has happened here in Waco, what happened at Baylor, is so far different from any university in the state,” Gutierrez said Monday. “We can’t stop bad things from happening, but we sure as hell can demand accountability. We sure as hell can demand that people protect our children.”
The scandal broke into the open after Baylor hired an outside law firm, Pepper Hamilton, to conduct an investigation following sexual assault convictions of two football players. The firm’s findings-of-fact report in May 2016 led to the firings of head coach Art Briles and other staffers, as well as the punishment and eventual departures of school president Ken Starr and athletic director Ian McCaw.
Baylor is a subject of several lawsuits, most filed by women who claim that they were raped and otherwise assaulted and that the school ignored their allegations; one suit alleges that at least 31 football players at Baylor committed at least 52 “acts of rape” over four years. Baylor said Monday that it “has previously disclosed that it is aware of 17 women who have reported to media or university resources allegations of sexual assault involving 19 football players since 2011. Any other reported figures are allegations from opposing parties as part of legal proceedings.”
Baylor said in a statement Wednesday that it pledged “full cooperation with the Texas Rangers.” Waco Police Chief Ryan Holt added that his department would also “welcome any investigation by the Texas Rangers into this matter.”
McLennan county district attorney Abel Reyna said (via KWTX) the Rangers have been working with his office “to review any information obtained from Baylor University for the presence of any potential criminal conduct.” He added, “Baylor has already cooperated and been providing our office information regarding specific instances of sexual assaults.”
Reyna told ESPN that he asked Baylor to voluntarily turn over the materials collected by Pepper Hamilton in its investigation and that, if the school complied, he would share it with the Rangers. Some of that information was released by a group of Baylor regents in a court document filed in response to libel lawsuits filed by Briles and another former staffer, in which text messages alleged to have been sent by Briles, McCaw and others appeared to show them improperly responding to incidents of player misconduct.
On Tuesday, a McLennan county judge signed off on a protective order filed by the former girlfriend of rising senior defensive back Travon Blanchard, one of Baylor’s top players. The school suspended Blanchard, who was accused by the woman of committing multiple acts of violence against her.