Baylor challenges accuracy of state lawmaker’s sexual assault figures

Texas state Capitol. (File)
Texas state Capitol. (File)(KWTX)
Published: Feb. 24, 2017 at 8:12 PM CST
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Baylor Monday challenged the accuracy of sexual assault figures included in a state lawmaker’s resolution calling for a Texas Rangers investigation of sexual assaults at the university.

State Rep. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio filed the resolution Friday calling on the Legislature to urge Gov. Greg Abbott “to direct the Texas Rangers with investigating the obstruction of justice surrounding the sexual assault of young female students at Baylor University.

Citing figures from lawsuit filings, Gutierrez says Baylor “has admitted that not less than 34 football players assaulted over 52 young women over the span of 5 years.”

Baylor, however, said in a statement Monday it “has previously disclosed that it is aware of 17 women who have reported to media or University resources allegations of sexual assault involving 19 football players since 2011. Any other reported figures are allegations from opposing parties as part of legal proceedings.”

The figures Gutierrez cited are from a lawsuit filed on Jan. 27 on behalf of a former Baylor student, identified only as Jane Doe who claims she was raped by two football players in April 2013 alleges that the football program’s “rape culture” resulted in 52 rapes involving at least 31 players between 2011 and 2014.

The 26-page suit includes no documentary support for the number of rapes and players, which far exceeds the number provided by Baylor regents, who told the Wall Street Journal in November that the scandal that engulfed the football program involved 17 women who reported sexual or domestic assaults involving 19 players including four gang rapes since 2011.

Baylor also took issue with the lawmaker’s statement in the resolution about “the staggering admission by Baylor University that at least 125 young students reported being sexually assaulted - and these are non-football related assaults. Baylor's own Title IX Coordinator says the number is even higher.”

“Baylor is currently reviewing approximately 125 reports of sexual assault

or harassment

from 2011 to 2015,” the university statement said.

“This is a part of the 105 recommendations adopted by the university to evaluate patterns and trends as well as to identify victims who are still at Baylor and may need support or restorative assistance,” the school said.

The resolution also claims that Baylor has resisted efforts to release information “which would reveal the conduct of senior administrators and attempted to put the blame entirely on football coaches.”

The university responded that it is extending “full cooperation with governmental and law enforcement authorities surrounding the issue of sexual assaults that occurred within our campus community several years ago, as we have done with other external inquiries that are currently underway.”

The school also said its police department “has made significant strides in response to sexual violence and overall campus safety.”

An external audit of the department in 2014 led to the hiring of a new police chief and the creation of an associate vice president for public safety and security position to oversee the department.

“Our hearts are heavy at the thought of anyone experiencing sexual assault within the Baylor Family,” the university’s statement said.

“As we have said previously, any such acts are reprehensible and unacceptable. The University remains committed to eliminating all forms of sexual and gender-based harassment and discrimination within our campus community.

AUSTIN, Texas (KWTX)—State Rep. Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio said during a news conference Monday in Austin that he was written a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott asking for a “sizable reduction” in the $10 million in annual grants the school receives to pass on to students in need of financial assistance.

Gutierrez wants the state to reduce the funds “until a thorough investigation is completed, full accountability is realized and concrete measures are in place to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again at Baylor.”

Such a move, however, would likely have more impact on the students who receive the aid than on the university, which is mostly immune to government oversight as a private institution.