BU law firm has 2 weeks to produce documents in sexual assault suits

Published: Mar. 28, 2019 at 1:25 PM CDT
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A Waco federal judge Thursday ordered the law firm whose review of Baylor’s handling of sexual assaults led to the firing of the university’s head football coach, the suspension of its athletic director and the reassignment of its president to turn over thousands of documents related to the investigation by April 11.

Jim Dunnam of Waco, who represents 10 Jane Doe plaintiffs in suits against the university, called the order a “monster step forward in revealing the truth,” The Associated Press reported.

The order Thursday comes just more than two years after Dunnam and Chad Dunn of Houston filed a subpoena seeking documents or records or communications relating to Pepper Hamilton’s work for Baylor beginning in 2015 including all information obtained from the Advocacy Center of Waco; all information obtained from the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office; all information obtained from Waco Police Department; all information obtained from the Baylor Police Department; all information obtained from the McLennan County Sheriff’s Department; all information obtained from Cenikor; all information obtained from Baylor University and all information obtained from any other third party.

In the order Thursday, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman, directed Pepper Hamilton, in response to the subpoena, to produce all materials in its custody that Baylor doesn’t already have or has not produced and to file notice with the court certifying that it completed production no later than April 11.

Pepper Hamilton reviewed more than a million pieces of evidence including documents, data, and interview lists, but produced only a 13-page Findings of Fact that didn’t identify any specific cases or cite any individuals by name.

The law firm reported its findings to the university’s Board of Regents orally.

Baylor maintained that attorney work product privileges applied in the case and that all the work product produced by the firm should be protected from discovery and rejected repeated demands to release full details of the report, despite calls from the Executive Committee of The Baylor Line Foundation and the alumni group, Bears for Leadership Reform.

After hearing the scathing Pepper Hamilton report, the school’s board of regents voted on May 26, 2016 to fire head football coach Art Briles, reassign Chancellor and President Ken Starr and suspend athletic director Ian McCaw.

Four days later, on May 30, McCaw resigned saying he needed to step down in order to help the university heal and move forward.

McCaw is now the athletic director at Liberty University in Lynchburg. Va.

Starr resigned from his position as chancellor on June 1, saying it was a “matter of conscience,” and he wanted to be able to speak freely, though as KWTX learned, he did have an agreement with Baylor not to disparage the university as terms of his settlement.

He severed all ties with the university in August 2016.

A lengthy KWTX investigation revealed that the law firm fumbled in its investigation, according to university insiders and secret recordings of meetings with athletic staffers obtained by KWTX, which suggest that the firm’s investigators came to Waco with an agenda to purge members of the football program and had a racial undertone in their line of questioning.

KWTX first reported, and the board later confirmed that no Baylor football players were interviewed in the months-long investigation.