BU still faces 5 sexual assault probes; here’s where they stand

Baylor President Dr. Linda Livingstone. (Baylor University photo)
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Linda Livingstone, Baylor University’s first female president, joined The Texas Tribune on Thursday morning to discuss her six months at the helm of a university criticized over the handling of its sexual assault scandal. The university has been accused of mishandling dozens of sexual assault allegations since 2011.

Livingstone’s job is not easy. Though Baylor recently learned that it will not lose its accreditation, it’s still facing five investigations, including two from the federal government, and it’s embroiled in several active lawsuits — even after settling numerous other cases.

Here are Livingstone’s updates on those five inquiries:

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is investigating Baylor after receiving a complaint from Patty Crawford, the university’s former Title IX coordinator. That investigation launched over a year ago — and such inquiries tend to take years.

Livingstone believes the office is "trying to be more efficient and reduce the time frame," but she doesn't know what that means in terms of timeframe.

The Education Department's other investigation examines Baylor's compliance with the Clery Act, which regulates how universities report campus crimes (including sexual assault). "Clery investigations take three, four years — that one's probably, of everything, likely to be the one that's the furthest out," Livingstone said.

The Texas Rangers announced in March that they'd look into Baylor's handling of sexual assault by students. The Texas Rangers are the state's top criminal investigative unit, charged with looking into major crimes. Livingstone said she does not "have any sense of the timeframe on that one."

The National Collegiate Athletic Association is also investigating the world's largest Baptist university. Although addressing sexual violence isn't typically within that organization's scope, the NCAA has the power to weigh in on cases where student-athletes are given "extra benefits" not granted to other students — such as special treatment in a sexual assault case.

Livingstone said, "We do not know at this point in time at what point we'll hear something from them."

The Big 12, Baylor's athletics conference, has since February been withholding 25 percent of the university's share of conference revenue. It won't return that money until it ensures Baylor has implemented the more than 100 recommendations offered by Pepper Hamilton, the Philadelphia-based law firm that investigated the school's practices.

Livingstone said both an internal and external audit have concluded that Baylor has made those changes, so she's "cautiously optimistic" that the Big 12 will reach the same conclusion. But the earliest she'll hear is in February, when the next Big 12 board meeting is scheduled.

(Disclosure: Baylor University has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune)