WACO, Texas (KWTX) A former female athlete alleges in a new Jane Doe lawsuit against Baylor University that she was gang-raped by at least four and possibly as many as eight football players on Feb. 11, 2012.
Houston lawyer Mo Aziz filed the lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court.
He says the basis of the suit is that there was an environment on campus that encouraged inappropriate activity in the football program that included but was not limited to: “Players arranging for women, alcohol and illegal drugs for parties when recruits were in town; Paying for and escorting underage recruits to bars and strip clubs; and Paying for off-campus football parties (which repeatedly resulted in gang rape of women by the football players)” the petition says.
The lawsuit, which names only Baylor University as a defendant, seeks unspecified damages and legal fees.
“The alleged incident outlined in the court filing occurred more than five years ago, and Baylor University has been in conversations with the victim’s legal counsel for many months in an attempt to reach an amicable resolution,” Baylor said in a statement Wednesday.
“Baylor has since initiated and structurally completed 105 wide-ranging recommendations in response to issues of sexual violence within our campus community, in addition to making changes within the university and athletics leadership and investing significantly in student support services,” the school said.
“As this case proceeds, Baylor maintains its ability to present facts – as available to the University – in response to the allegations contained in the legal filing. The University’s response in no way changes Baylor’s position that any assault involving members of our campus community is reprehensible and inexcusable. Baylor remains committed to eliminating all forms of sexual and gender-based harassment and discrimination within our campus community.”
Aziz, told KWTX Wednesday his effort is to bring attention to allegations that Baylor had an environment on campus prior to 2012 that encouraged football players to engage in inappropriate sexual activity with women on campus.
“Through the use of sex with recruits and the continued lure of sex should the recruits attend Baylor, Baylor’s recruiting policies and practices, along with the Baylor Bruin football hostess program, directly contributed to the creation of a culture of sexual violence that permeated Baylor and its football program, and from which plaintiff, along with countless other women, would soon suffer,” the petition says.
“Simply put, Baylor football under (Art) Briles had run wild, in more ways than one, and Baylor was doing nothing to stop it.”
Aziz said he is contacting other lawyers who have Jane Doe clients with lawsuits against Baylor so they can form a coalition to provide the best defense for their clients.
“I’d like to form some type of organization of plaintiff’s lawyers so we can work together for our clients and save time,” Aziz said.
There are more than a dozen similar lawsuits filed against Baylor, Aziz said.
No date has yet been set for hearing but Aziz said he is asking the judge to set a status conference as soon as possible.
The incident, which the volleyball player did not report to her coach until 2013, was pivotal in the investigation that led to the firing of head football coach Art Briles, the reassignment of Chancellor and President Ken Starr and the suspension of athletic director Ian McCaw a year ago.
Starr later resigned and McCaw is now athletic director at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va.
In November 2016 Baylor released information claiming Briles was informed of the incident by the volleyball player’s head coach, as was McCaw, but that no one reported it to the school’s office of Judicial Affairs as required by university policy.
Baylor did not have a Title IX Office at the time, but the volleyball coach, Jim Barnes, who’s also no longer at Baylor, maintains he did call Judicial Affairs after he was made aware of the incident, and in a sworn statement obtained by KWTX, Barnes says thought Briles “handled the matter honorably and with the serious attention it deserved.”
In a statement issued Wednesday through attorney Thomas P. Brandt, McCaw said he was “faced with a situation in which he desired to honor the wishes of the alleged victim, who, according to her head coach, was unwilling to speak to police.”
“Mr. McCaw directed the victim’s coach to Baylor’s Office of Judicial Affairs, which handles student conduct matters. Mr. McCaw believed that the Office of Judicial Affairs was the appropriate place to take such an allegation,” Brandt’s statement said.
Briles’ attorney, Mark Lanier, issued a statement Wednesday in which he said, “We have read the allegations in the plaintiff’s case and are stunned.”
“Core allegations in this suit are contrary to known written evidence, letters, and events,” he said.
“Furthermore, the suit fails to point out that Coach Briles’s response when he heard the allegations was clear. He said if any criminal activity occurred, it should immediately be reported to the police.”