Ken Starr defends Briles, Baylor in lengthy interview

Published: Sep. 24, 2016 at 6:36 PM CDT
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Former Baylor President Judge Ken Starr defended former Coach Art Briles, and refuted many of the assertions of the ‘Findings of Fact’, produced by the Board of Regents after a lengthy investigation by Pepper Hamilton into the handling of cases of sexual violence at Baylor, in a lengthy interview Saturday.

Speaking at a festival organized by the Texas Tribune, Starr said he believes Art Briles got a ‘raw deal’ when he was fired as the school’s head coach. “Coach Briles is an honorable, decent man who has devoted his life to helping mold and shape young men”, Starr said, when asked whether his firing was fair. “ESPN can mock that all they want, but they have done a grave and grievous unfairness.”

Starr said he now knows that the first responders at Baylor, and especially Baylor police, were “completely insufficient” in the way the handled reporting victims of sexual assaults in some cases. “When a victim or survivor comes in, that [she] will be treated with dignity and respect, but also sensitivity to the circumstances”, Starr said. “I was very disappointed to learn we had not done that in some cases. I’m not saying it was systemic, but there were some cases.”

But Starr argued with the assertion in the ‘Findings of Fact’ that the University’s Title IX efforts were insufficient, or that the University didn’t do enough to eliminate a hostile environment for those who would report sexual assaults. “If Patty Crawford, our Title IX coordinator were here, and she has been quoted as saying we are ‘ahead of the curve’”, Starr said.

Starr said the school complied with all requirements of Title IX guidance, including appointing a full-time coordinator months before it was required, in November of 2014.

Starr also continued his call for more transparency from the Baylor Board of Regents, pointing out the fact that there has been no report produced by Pepper Hamilton, and saying the narrative that there was a fundamental failure by Baylor to implement Title IX needs to be ‘cross-examined’.

Starr pointed to reporting by KWTX and the Waco Tribune Herald as needed efforts to produce additional disclosure from the University’s board.

In a months-long investigation by KWTX, university insiders and secret recordings of meetings with athletic staffers assert Baylor and Pepper Hamilton fumbled the Pepper Hamilton investigation and response.

On May 26, saying they “were horrified by the extent of these acts of sexual violence on our campus,” Baylor regents reassigned Chancellor and President Ken Starr, fired head football coach Art Briles and put Athletic Director Ian McCaw on probation after sitting through a lengthy report of the law firm’s findings.

But the inside sources to whom KWTX talked question whether the investigation was flawed.