Mac Engel

Think Baylor’s problems are over? Not so fast, thanks to these Jane Does

Baylor University has successfully settled most of the lawsuits regarding sexual assault complaints, but the private Baptist school is facing a group of clients that is highly motivated to be seen and heard in court.

A group of 10 Jane Doe clients is pressing forward with its suit in a Waco court, and thus far, former Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw and members of the Board of Regents have been deposed.

Sources have said Baylor has made one offer to settle with the plaintiffs, but its proposal was rejected.

The school has wanted to avoid court since May 2016, when BU went forward with a plan to reshape university policy regarding sexual assault complaints.

The new policies, which sources said are all the Big 12 cares about, are not the issue. The issue is who really was at fault in this fiasco and whether there was a deliberate attempt to deny, suppress or ignore claims of rape at the school.

The last, maybe best, chance for the truth to be exposed about what happened at Baylor was always going to be in the courtroom.

A Baylor staffer asked me, “I don’t know why we’re still (talking about) this; it was two years ago.”

What BU administrators want to avoid is anything that remotely looks like what happened at Michigan State with the Dr. Larry Nassar case, where it was revealed that MSU officials knew the former Team USA and MSU physician had countless complaints of sexual assault and did nothing.

A new case could extend this all out for Baylor; on Wednesday, a federal judge allowed a former Baylor student to proceed with a new lawsuit against the school, McCaw, former football coach Briles and the Waco Police Department based on a claim that she was abused by a member of the football team.

The plaintiff, Dolores Lozano, had most of her claims in her original suit, filed in 2016, dismissed. Per The Waco Tribune, the judge allowed an avenue for a new suit based on non-Title IX claims.

This ordeal has already cost well over $100 million, sources say; according to Baylor’s filings to the IRS, donations from 2016 to 2017 dropped from $92 million to $76 million.

McCaw’s full deposition, taken in June in Virginia, has been released; he pointed to failings within the Baylor police department, among other issues. He also testified he felt the school was motivated to pin the scandal on the football team rather than to acknowledge that how sexual assault complaints were handled was a university-wide failure.

Not long after his deposition was made public, the Baylor Line Foundation, the school’s main alumni group, called out the school for a lack of transparency on this issue.

McCaw would not agree to an interview. Per the terms of his settlement with Baylor, he cannot speak about the specifics of anything that happened while he was at Baylor. He has repeatedly been approached for interviews and rejected all of them.

Under oath, he has no choice.

The school released a statement regarding McCaw’s deposition that said, “Despite the numerous, factually baseless assertions in Mr. McCaw’s deposition, one fact remains — several incidents of sexual and interpersonal violence involving student-athletes were reported during his tenure as athletics director. It was the Baylor Board of Regents that stepped up and took action, launching an independent investigation — by the nation’s top sexual assault legal experts — of not only the football program but of the entire campus in terms of how reports of sexual violence were handled over a specific period.”

True.

According to sources, however, what Baylor won’t admit is that its investigation was loaded with flaws, starting with the firm it hired.

Former Baylor president Ken Starr selected the law firm of Pepper Hamilton at the suggestion of the president of the University of Virginia, because the school had used that firm to deal with the lawsuit against Rolling Stone magazine’s erroneous reporting of a sexual assault at a fraternity at the school.

High-ranking board members pinned the investigation, and specifically its direction, on Starr.

In turn, sources said, Starr acted merely upon the direction of the board.

Sources also said that Baylor Police Chief Jim Doak, who has been heavily criticized for his professional handling of sexual assault complaints and who was mentioned specifically by McCaw in his deposition, was never interviewed by the Pepper Hamilton investigators.

Although Doak retired in July 2014, sources said the school also gave him a retirement party.

That sounds odd, but it is consistent with how Baylor has handled some of the people it deems the main culprits in the ordeal.

It fired Briles, then paid him $17.9 million. Then it issued him what amounts to a recommendation letter that was written by the school’s chief counsel, Christopher Holmes.

Longtime athletic department administrator Tom Hill was fired because, per sources, when the investigators presented their “findings” to the board, one of the investigators said, “(Hill) is a (expletive deleted) liar.”

The investigators accused him of lying involving the specifics surrounding the alleged rape of a volleyball player by multiple football players. He denies the accusation. He said the one interview he had with the Pepper Hamilton representatives lasted 15 minutes and “was more of an interrogation.”

“I was (later) told I had ‘bad body language’ and that I was withholding information and it all relates to the volleyball case,” said Hill, who worked at BU for 28 years and now is involved in running a start-up minor league baseball team. “I just want to see what happens and why this all happened. Athletics did not create what happened. I’m telling you that. Let’s see where the truth is.”

A lawsuit that he filed against the school for wrongful termination was thrown out by a Waco judge in the spring of 2017.

However, in February 2018, Christopher Holmes, former Baylor regents and powerful Baylor alums Lyndon Olson, Gale Galloway and a few other significant members of Baylor’s community all went to Hill’s home to apologize for how he was treated.

They were greeted by Hill, his family and friends.

“I wanted them to see it, my children especially,” Hill said.

More may be seen by the end of the month; a judge ruled that Baylor must turn over student records regarding the Jane Does in the latest motion.

Baylor continues to deny and fight motions to release information, including the plaintiff’s motion to obtain the information used for Pepper Hamilton’s “Finding of Facts”; the school asserts that “most of the alleged assaults occurred off campus” and “years before the investigation.”

As long as this case is open, Baylor’s problems continue.

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