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Feb 08, 2016 01:05 PM EST

Baylor President Issues Letter Defending School's Sexual Misconduct Response


Baylor University publicly refuted an investigative report calling into question its track record sexual misconduct violations, specifically those pertaining to football players.

Baylor's president and chancellor, Ken Starr, issued an open letter Sunday iterating the school's commitment to "[eliminating] the scourge of sexual violence." Starr's letter, which coincided with Baylor's 171st birthday on Feb. 1, came about week after ESPN's Outside the Lines released a report with testimony from female students at Baylor who were sexually assaulted and did not receive adequate support.

Two women ESPN only identified as Tanya and Kim told OTL reporters they were raped by the same football player, Tevin Elliott. OTL learned four other women made the same complaint against Elliott.

Both Tanya and Kim said Baylor provided little support or none at all, as some departments suggested they seek services like counseling and protection from off-campus sources. OTL's investigation turned up similar instances of inaction on the Baylor administration's part when it came to sexual misconduct.

Baylor hired the Pepper Hamilton law firm in the fall to investigate its practices and procedures in sexual misconduct cases on campus in the wake of Sam Ukwuachu's conviction for raping another student. Ukwuachu transferred to Baylor to play football closer to hom and allegedly raped the female now-former student shortly after arriving on campus.

Though the woman reported her rape to the local police, Baylor apparently did not do much more than keep him off the football team when he became eligible to play. Baylor and its football program have also denied allegations they were alerted of a domestic violence incident that led to Ukwuachu's dismissal from his previous football team.

Baylor launched the Pepper Hamilton investigation following Ukwuachu's conviction and sentencing to 180 days in county jail, which will be followed by 10 years of probation and 400 hours of community service. While the investigation is active, Starr said he would not discuss details of ongoing cases.

The U.S. Education Department is also investigating Baylor for any Title IX or Clery Act violations based on complaints related to the OTL investigation. Title IX requires school, both public and private, to adequately investigate and support victims of sexual discrimination, while the Clery Act requires schools to release crime statistics at least once a year.

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