Judge says he’ll revisit request for change of venue in Baylor sex assault case

Shawn Oakman. (KWTX photo/file)
By  | 

WACO, Texas (KWTX) A Waco district judge on Friday said he’ll re-consider a request from former Baylor football player Shawn Oakman who asked for a change of venue in his upcoming sexual assault trial.

Oakman was arrested 10 days after authorities executed a search warrant at his campus area apartment and six days after his 24th birthday.

Oakman and the woman he's accused of sexually assaulting had "a previous intimate relationship that included numerous consensual sexual encounters...over a period of time before the alleged incident," Oakman’s attorney said.

The issue for change of venue is based upon the fact that during the time of Oakman’s arrest and following that time, Waco and Baylor University have been spotlighted concerning sexual assault issues on campus.

As a result, Waco attorney Alan Bennett said, there is an extreme likelihood that because of mainstream and social media coverage of the scandal, it would be unlikely that an unbiased jury could be selected.

Judge Ralph Strother, in 19th District Court, said Friday being able to seat a jury is primarily essential to getting this case to trial, and "the matter has been pending long enough.”

Strother said he and Bennett would use questionnaires filled out by jury pool members called for duty on Feb 15, when some 500- to 600 potential jurors have been summoned to hear the case.

The former defensive end was a two-time All-Big 12 selection who ranks first on Baylor's all-time sacks list and second on the school's all-time tackles for loss list.

He wasn't projected to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft in April, but was ranked in the top 100 before the sexual assault allegations surfaced.

Officers responded early in the morning on April 3, 2016 to the emergency room of Providence Health Center in response to a report of a sexual assault, according to the search warrant affidavit.

The McLennan County Grand Jury indicted Oakman for sexual assault on July 20, 2016.

He’s remains free on a $25,000 bond.

The victim told police she met with the suspect, identified as Oakman, at Scruffy Murphy's, a campus-area club, and then walked with him to the nearby duplex, the affidavit said.

Once inside, the woman said that her clothing was forcibly removed and that she was forced onto the bed and sexually assaulted, the affidavit said.

The woman was able to leave after the alleged assault, but told police she left her panties in the duplex and that she lost an earring in the bedroom, the affidavit said.

At the hospital, the affidavit said, she was treated for unspecified injuries and a sexual assault examination was conducted, the affidavit said.

Officers "briefly spoke with Oakman," the affidavit said, "and he admitted to only having consensual sex with the victim."

The search warrant was issued just before 2 p.m. April 3, 2016 and then was executed that afternoon at a duplex in the 1200 block of James Avenue near the university campus.

Investigators seized two comforters, a fitted sheet and a flat sheet from the residence, according to the warrant's return and inventory.

Oakman was arrested at around 2 p.m. on April 13, 2016 after meeting with Waco detectives about the sexual assault investigation, police Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton said.

During the meeting, police served Oakman two search warrants, one for his cellphone and one for his DNA.

“Immediately after the execution of those search warrants, Mr. Oakman was served with a warrant of arrest for a charge of sexual assault,” Swanton said.

Warrant returns indicate that DNA samples were taken from Oakman’s mouth and that investigators seized his cellphone, which was used twice to place calls to the alleged victim after Oakman learned he was under investigation.

The affidavit issued for the search warrant on April 13 says the alleged victim texted Oakman from a campus area nightclub where the two met and says he later made two attempts to contact her by phone after he became aware of the investigation.

The arrest warrant issued April 13 included the same sexual assault allegations against Oakman as the affidavit submitted for a search warrant on April 3 for Oakman's residence.

Previous Report

E. Allen Bennett, who represents a former Baylor football standout charged with sexual assault, is asking State District Court Judge Ralph Strother to move the ex-player’s trial to Daingerfield in Morris County north of Longview in far northeast Texas.

Shawn Oakman was arrested on April 13, 2016 on a sexual assault charge.

A McLennan County grand jury indicted him on July 20, 2016.

In his motion for a change of venue filed Thursday, Bennett says Oakman’s trial should be moved because of the prejudicial effect of heavy media coverage of the sexual assault scandal that engulfed the Baylor football program in May 2016 and more recently of a plea deal in which a former Baylor fraternity president, Jacob Anderson, who was accused of rape, was sentenced to deferred adjudication probation.

“The court must change venue because the publicity surrounding the Baylor scandal and exacerbated by the Anderson case has created so great a prejudice against (the) defendant that he cannot obtain a fair and impartial trial in McLennan County.”

Officers responded early in the morning on April 3, 2016 to the emergency room of Providence Health Center in response to a report of a sexual assault, according to a warrant affidavit.

The victim told police she met with the suspect, identified as Oakman, at Scruffy Murphy's, a campus-area club, and then walked with him to the nearby duplex, the affidavit said.

Once inside, the woman said that her clothing was forcibly removed and that she was forced onto the bed and sexually assaulted, the affidavit said.

The woman was able to leave after the alleged assault, but told police she left her panties in the duplex and that she lost an earring in the bedroom, the affidavit said.

At the hospital, the affidavit said, she was treated for unspecified injuries and a sexual assault examination was conducted, the affidavit said.

Oakman was arrested 10 days after authorities executed a search warrant at his campus area apartment and six days after his 24th birthday.

He maintains his innocence and says the sex was consensual.

The former defensive end was a two-time All-Big 12 selection who ranks first on Baylor's all-time sacks list and second on the school's all-time tackles for loss list.

He wasn't projected to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft in April, but was ranked in the top 100 before the sexual assault allegations surfaced.