Sports

Baylor Regents: Art Briles Knew About "Horrifying" Sexual Assault Allegations

Baylor regents have revealed a little bit more information about the sexual assault scandal on campus.
October 28, 2016, 8:33pm
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

The Wall Street Journal has spoken to several members of the Baylor University board of regents, as the school continues to repair its image following a damning investigation into sexual assault on campus, and in particular by football players. The school was accused of protecting the football program to such an extent—at times going so far as to discourage victims from reporting claims of sexual assault—it cost coach Art Briles and university president Ken Starr their jobs. Because the report generated by Pepper Hamilton was never actually written, it could never actually be released, so details were always scarce, but the regents who spoke to the Journal have shed some new light on the situation.

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The [Pepper Hamilton] probe showed some Baylor players allegedly participated in what one regent calls a "horrifying and painful" series of assaults over several years.

In at least one case, Baylor regents said, Mr. Briles knew about an alleged incident and didn't alert police, the school's judicial-affairs staff or the Title IX office in charge of coordinating the school's response to sexual violence.

In all, 17 women reported being sexually or domestically assaulted, four of which were alleged gang rapes, by 19 different football players since 2011. The regents who were interviewed heavily criticized Briles, who was first hired in 2008, and the football program.

In one of the alleged gang rapes reported, the victim, who was also an athlete, informed her coach about the incident and said she did not want to call the police. Her coach met with Briles and he said he hoped she would report it to the police, but he did not report the incident to the Title IX office.

One regent essentially laid the entire scandal at the program's feet:

"There was a cultural issue there that was putting winning football games above everything else, including our values," said J. Cary Gray,a Dallas lawyer and member of the Baylor board of regents. More broadly, he said, "we did not have a caring community when it came to these women who reported that they were assaulted. And that is not OK."

Another said that Briles wept in front of the board when he met with them days before he was fired, and that he said, "I delegated down, and I know I shouldn't have. And I had a system where I was the last to know, and I should have been the first to know. "

While all of this may be true, and certainly no one is going to throw a pity party for Art Briles, it is worth remembering that the board of regents was still the board of regents while this was all happening. The football program was a disgrace, but it was still operating on Baylor campus. Baylor University still completely failed its student population.