Judge orders Baylor to hand over Pepper Hamilton files to Waco attorney

(Photo by KWTX)
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) A federal judge has ordered Baylor University to turn over all records of its sexual assault investigation which resulted in lawsuits against the university.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman ordered the private university to deliver all the files they sent to law firm Pepper Hamilton, and give them to Waco attorney Jim Dunnam who represents multiple women who said they were victims of rape while attending the school at various times.

Prompted by the rape trial and conviction of former football player Sam Ukwuachu (which has since been overturned), Baylor hired Pepper Hamilton in 2015 to look into how the university had responded to sexual assaults.

Pepper Hamilton reviewed more than a million pieces of evidence including documents, data, and interview lists.

Their investigation found that coaches and other officials knew about instances of sexual assault, but never reported them.

After releasing a summary of their findings nine months later, the university's head football coach, Art Briles, was fired and the university's former president, Ken Starr, was reassigned only to later leave the university altogether.

The university has continuously refused to release documents from the Pepper Hamilton investigation, saying the information is privileged.

On Friday afternoon, Baylor University spokesperson Lori Fogleman released a statement in response to the order.

"Baylor recognizes this is a complex order, and the university appreciates the court's ruling that attorney work product privileges continue to apply in this case. All of the work product and related materials prepared by Pepper Hamilton are currently protected from discovery, with the provision of the university being required to produce a detailed log of certain work product and to identify witnesses who were interviewed. Baylor continues to express concerns regarding the protection of students' personal records, specifically the desire of many students, who are unrelated to this case, that their identities remain anonymous and their information confidential,” said Fogleman.

Attorney Eleeza Johnson of Dunnam & Dunnam Law Firm said Friday's ruling was a big win for victims everywhere.

"I think the ruling is a large and very positive step today, not only for our clients, but for all young women, and in learning the truth about what really happened at Baylor," said Johnson.

Even with Friday's ruling, it is unknown if the information will ever be fully public.