By Ken Reed
The ugly situation that is Baylor University’s handling of sexual assault cases has been made uglier by the fact that the university hasn’t released a full report with details and names.
Instead of a full report, Pepper Hamilton, the law firm hired by Baylor to conduct an investigation into the school’s handling of sexual assault complaints, delivered an oral presentation to Baylor’s board. Baylor’s board — not Pepper Hamilton — then prepared a 13-page summary of the oral presentation.
This approach leads one to question the impartiality of the lawyers hired and paid for by Baylor. It also makes one wonder whether or not Baylor is withholding information from the public and media in an attempt to avoid lawsuits and even greater public criticism.
The lack of a paper trail means case specifics and the names of the Baylor employees who botched the handling of sexual assault complaints remain unknown to the public.
“It’s very common, if you don’t want something discovered in court, to not want to have a written record,” said Donna Lopiano, a former director of women’s athletics at the University of Texas who now consults on Title IX issues. Title IX, the federal law mandating gender equity in higher education, applies to the handling of sexual misconduct cases.
The 13-page summary said there was “a cultural perception that football was above the rules” at Baylor. The lack of a full report on the sexual assault cases would certainly support that perception.
The little that we do know from the summary is disgusting in itself. For example, members of the Baylor football staff refused to report sexual assault allegations to the proper administrators. There was victim-blaming and in at least one case retaliation against a complainant for reporting a sexual assault. In short, there were numerous ill-conceived decisions by the football coaching staff, athletic department officials, and university administrators.
And there is much we still don’t know because by deciding not to issue a full official report, it appears that Baylor has implemented a cover-up strategy in regards to the school’s handling of the sexual misconduct cases.
“From the point of view of policy, public relations and transparency, there are so many questions that so many people have raised about the incidents and the actions Baylor has taken as a result of this investigation that it seems both inappropriate and disadvantageous for the university to try to keep things covered up.,” says George Freeman, the executive director of the Media Law Resource Center.
Inappropriate to say the least. What Baylor has done is prioritize self-preservation over what’s best for the victims. And they have prioritized self-preservation over doing whatever is necessary to prevent future sexual assaults at Baylor.
That is simply evil. And in the case of Baylor, a Christian-based university, hypocritical as well.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans
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Ken Reed appears on KGNU Community Radio in Colorado (at 02:30) to discuss equality in sports and Title IX.
Ken Reed appears on the Ralph Nader Radio Hour (at 38:35) to discuss his book The Sports Reformers: Working to Make the World of Sports a Better Place, and to talk about some current sports issues.
Sports & Torts – Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans – at the American Museum of Tort Law
League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.
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