Baylor interim president says school will not release full report on football sexual assault scandal

Baylor University will not publicly release the full report that law firm Pepper Hamilton presented to the school’s board examining the school’s handling of sexual assault allegations brought against members of the football team, interim president David Garland said in a letter published online Friday.

In a 1,000-word letter to the Baylor community entitled “A New Season In The Life Of Baylor University”, Garland wrote that the full report would not be released because the “Findings of Facts” (published online last week) sufficiently reflected the findings of Pepper Hamilton’s full report.

From Garland’s letter:

In recent days, various voices have called for the release of the “full report.” Pepper Hamilton’s report was delivered in the form of an oral presentation that fully and comprehensively presented the individual and aggregated findings and the evidence supporting the findings. The Findings of Fact and Recommendations, which were released publicly in a format that protected the privacy of individuals, fully reflect the facts and core failings identified in the investigation. The findings revealed clear opportunities for Baylor to improve.

Garland also said that by choosing not to release the full report, the school was protecting the victims affected during the scandal:

We respect survivors’ freedom to choose whether, when and how to share their experiences and will support survivors who choose to share their experiences publicly. The details of these individuals’ experiences will not be discussed publicly by the University. We hurt for these students and deeply appreciate their willingness to speak with Pepper Hamilton as part of this review. Their insights and participation will help us better address these issues in the future.

Pepper Hamilton, based out of Philadelphia, was hired in 2015 after numerous reports said that university and athletic officials had taken steps to cover up allegations of sexual assault against members of the football team.

Last week, before releasing the “Finding of Facts”, the school fired head football coach Art Briles. The school’s Athletic Director was suspended. Ken Starr was moved from president to chancellor before quickly resigning from his new post, though he remains a tenured law professor.

In the Findings of Fact, Pepper Hamilton painted a damning picture of a campus culture that failed to hold the football team accountable, discouraged victims from filing complaints, and, on numerous occasions, neglected to remove victims from potentially dangerous situations with assailants. Most shockingly, it said that on one instance, actions of administrators “constituted retaliation against a complainant for reporting sexual assault.”

But while the summary’s tone was undeniably critical, its substance was ultimately rather hollow. The school has failed to release any substantive details or new information about the scandal itself; by not releasing the full report, Baylor evidently intends to keep it that way.

There are, of course, ways to protect the’ identities of the victims while still releasing the full report (changing their names, for example). By not releasing the report, several key questions from the scandal remain, including who within the football staff, athletic department, or school administration turned a blind eye to the allegations, which administrator retaliated against a victim, and what that entailed.

Prior to Garland’s letter, the Baylor alumni association called for the full release of Pepper Hamilton’s findings.

“The Baylor Family deserves an unvarnished, complete accounting of the facts about how these events were handled,” a statement from the alumni association said.

In his letter on Friday, Garland wrote: “Baylor has long been known as a place where students are loved and cared for, and that commitment remains true even as we face the realities of these findings of the Pepper Hamilton investigation.”

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