Court filing: Top BU officials ‘concealed reports of serial sexual assault’

By  | 

WACO, Texas (KWTX) Documents produced by fired Baylor head football coach Art Briles in response to a subpoena in a Jane Doe sexual assault lawsuit against the university show that “multiple senior Baylor administrators knew about a serial sexual assault assailant” in the fall of 2011, but failed to act, according to a court filing Thursday.

(Baylor University photo/file)

“After having engaged in four separate alleged sexual assaults, this predator went on to rape a final eBaylor student on April 15, 2012, resulting in criminal conviction and a sentence of 20 years in prison,” the 38-page motion filed by attorneys Jim Dunnam of Waco and Chad Dunn of Houston.

“If someone would have done their job in the Fall of 2011, then young women at Baylor University would have been safer – they didn’t do that," Dunnam told KWTX.

Baylor, in a statement issued early Thursday evening, said many of the documents cited in the filing and others that were made available to the Pepper Hamilton investigators who reviewed the school’s handling of sexual assaults involving athletes, “informed the May 26, 2016 Findings of Fact, which outlined fundamental failures campus-wide in Baylor responding to reports of sexual violence” and led to Briles' firing as well as the suspension of athletic director Ian McCaw and reassignment of Chancellor and President Ken Starr.

"Yes, Baylor's admitted this in some of their findings, but we're just now learning the details of 'who' and 'what' and 'when' they did it," said Dunnam. "What the people do not understand is the level of complicity of non-athletic personnel in Patt Neff that are responsible for this."

Dunnam said in the next month he's scheduled to depose 30-50 people involved, including administrators and regents, and believes additional unreleased documents with more evidence supporting his claims will be revealed.

However, Baylor officials are trying to poke holes in the opposing counsel's arguments.

“In fact, the theory purported by the plaintiffs’ counsel in today’s filing only reinforces the unprecedented actions taken by the Baylor Board of Regents related to leadership changes and the adoption of 105 recommendations to enhance the safety and security of Baylor’s campus community,” the university said.

The motion, filed in an ongoing dispute over what the attorneys say is “Baylor’s massive discovery obstruction,” argues that the documents provided by Briles underscore the importance of non-party discovery to the Jane Doe plaintiffs’ claims.

“These documents are documents that I didn’t see until last week, I don’t know why that’s the case, I think I have a suspicion why," Dunnam told KWTX Thursday. "The level of deception, concealment, and outright lies form the university is difficult to conceive particularly six years after the fact that we're learning these things, things that were directly contradicted publicly over and over again until today."

Baylor officials refuted Dunnam's averment.

“The assertion that Baylor ‘concealed’ documents related to the Elliott case is false and completely absurd,” the university said.

The documents, which were provided to Briles’ attorney during discovery in a separate lawsuit filed by the victim of the April 15, 2012 rape, Jasmin Hernandez, were included among the hundreds of pages that Briles turned over in response to a subpoena in the Jane Doe lawsuit.

“Baylor produced these materials as part of discovery in the Hernandez case involving (former Baylor football player Tevin) Elliott, which is precisely why third-party Art Briles had possession of them given that he was a named defendant in the Hernandez lawsuit,” the university said.

“These documents have never been concealed or hidden by Baylor or outside counsel.”

Hernandez of Orange County, Calif., filed the federal lawsuit against the school, Briles, and former athletic director Ian McCaw in March 2016, alleging officials were "deliberately indifferent" to sexual assault allegations against ex-football player Tevin Elliott, who’s serving a prison sentence after he was found guilty of two counts of sexual assault

The suit was settled in mediation in August 2017.

The terms of the settlement weren’t disclosed.

KWTX does not normally name rape victims, but Hernandez's attorney said Hernandez wanted to speak publicly to draw attention to the case.

Elliott, a former defensive end, was indicted on August 27, 2012 in connection with the sexual assault in the early morning hours of April 15, 2012, during a party at a South Waco apartment complex.

In January 2014, a Waco state district court sentenced Elliott to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine on each count.

The sentences are running concurrently.

Baylor suspended Elliott on April 27, 2012 for unspecified team violations, two days after a meeting to discuss the sexual assault that sources with direct knowledge of the situation say included former Baylor General Counsel Charlie Bechenhauer, who has since died, Baylor and Waco police investigators, Judicial Affairs investigators and Executive Vice President Reagan Ramsower.

The Waco investigators said they were preparing to arrest Elliott and during the course of the discussion, then Baylor police Chief Jim Doak acknowledged that he knew about multiple assaults in which Elliott was accused, but didn’t notify anyone in the athletics department.

Elliott was charged with sexual assault on April 30, 2012 and was freed on $10,000 bond.

He later transferred to Central Arkansas.

Clint Conque, head football coach at Central Arkansas, suspended Elliott a day after a McLennan County grand jury indicted Elliott on three counts of sexual assault.

Hernandez was one of five women who reported to police that they were either raped or assaulted by Elliott in incidents from October 2009 to April 2012.

The motion filed Thursday says that Baylor’s Judicial Affairs office and Baylor Judicial Affairs Coordinator David Murdock, Associate Dean for Judicial Affairs Bethany McCraw and Associate Vice President for Student Life Martha Lou Scott became aware of Elliott’s assaults as early as Nov. 7, 2011 and that Ramsower, who, as Baylor’s senior vice president and chief operating officer, oversaw the university’s administrative and financial operations including the Baylor Department of Public Safety, was aware that Elliott was “assaulting young women” as early as the week of Oct. 5, 2011.

“Why are these individuals still employed at Baylor University, why?" said Dunnam.

The motion says, “All of this should be put into the context that a Baylor student was ultimately sexually assaulted on April 15, 2012, meaning that had just one of Ramsower, Doak, Murdock, McCraw or Scott done even the minimum their job required, Elliott would not have had the opportunity to commit assaults in March and April of 2012."

“In short, at least five key Baylor senior non-athletic administrators were aware of Elliott’s predatorial behavior in the fall of 2011. They did nothing, with horrific consequences over the next five months,” the motion says.

Baylor rejects the claim that Ramsower was aware of a March 2011 sexual assault.

“Regarding the substance of the documents, there is no evidence to suggest that Reagan Ramsower was aware of a March 2011 alleged sexual assault involving Elliott, despite the conspiracy being spun by plainEllitiffs’ counsel,” the school said.

Dunnam called the university’s response “just a bunch of word play,” in a statement Thursday evening.

“Documents show clear as day that Ramsower knew about Tevin Elliott assaulting a female student, it may have been the one in March 2011 or it may have been on the one in September 2011, either way he should have done something about it,” he said.

The motion filed Thursday cites an email exchange on Oct 12, 2011 between Doak and Ramsower in which Doak wrote, “I mentioned to you about Tevin Elliott last week. He has denied everything (no surprise) and now Waco PD is looking at a polygraph for him. This is a case of ‘he said-she said’ but her story has never varied each time she has been interviewed. I’ll keep you posted.”

The motion cites another email sent on Nov. 7, 2011 by Murdock to McCraw and Scott about an allegation of “’unlawful restraint’” of a sexual nature against Elliott.

“I will be sending Tevin a student charge of misconduct as well,” Murdock wrote.

The motion says Murdock received a message the next day about the referral of an assault reported by the “Police Dept.” to “our office,” the motion says.

The motion says handwritten notes dated later in November 2011 “show Murdock and Judicial Affairs changing course and burying the information, allowing Elliott to continue to walk unhindered on Baylor campus (and incidentally play in Baylor’s victories over Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and Texas to finish out the 2011 regular football season).”

The motion also claims that Ramsower lied in an interview with “60 Minutes Sports” for a story that aired on Nov. 1, 2016 on the Showtime network in which he said “unequivocally that he had no knowledge of the prior assaults and that Doak was solely responsible for hiding them.

In response to a question about how much responsibility he bears personally for what had happened at Baylor, Ramsower responded, “I had, I had no knowledge of any other reports. I had no knowledge of anything being reported to me.”

In response to a follow-up question about whether the sexual assault incidents weren’t reported to him because of a breakdown in procedure, Ramsower replied, “I think that it was, and the, the people involved in that no longer employed by the university…. that would be the chief of police, as well as some of the other folks, but particularly the chief of police.”

“This is a man who Baylor had applauded over and over again about all of his contributions to the university...and I believe that is sickening," Dunnam told KWTX.

Baylor, in its statement, said the portion of the interview to which the plaintiff’s motion refers does not pertain to Elliott.

Ramsower, who was appointed to head a Sexual Assault Task Force created in response to recommendations from the Pepper Hamilton law firm, stepped down as the school’s senior vice president and chief operating officer on May 31.

He continues to serve Baylor as a full professor in the Hankamer School of Business.