External counsel to investigate sexual violence at Baylor

Baylor President Ken Starr in undated file photo. (Baylor University Photo)

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Baylor University will hire “outside counsel to investigate thoroughly” sexual violence on the Waco campus and create a staff position to provide “oversight of all student-athlete behavior,” Baylor President Ken Starr announced Aug. 28.

Starr’s initiatives follow the conviction of a former Baylor football player for raping a university coed.

sam ukwuachu300Sam Ukwuachu, a 22-year-old former defensive end with the Baylor Bears, was convicted Aug. 20 of sexually assaulting a then-18-year-old soccer player in October 2013. He’s shown here playing for Boise State before going to Baylor.Sam Ukwuachu received a 180-day jail sentence and 10 years’ probation for sexually assaulting a Baylor soccer player who was 18 years old at the time of the rape in 2013.

Multiple strains of controversy have swirled about the incident: Baylor’s decision to accept Ukwuachu’s transfer from Boise State University, where, Texas Monthly reported, he was dismissed for an act of violence involving a female. How much Baylor Head Coach Art Briles knew about Ukwuachu’s violent past. Baylor’s and Waco police’s allegedly shallow investigation into the rape in Waco. Baylor football’s downplay of the situation and willingness to make him a starter this season. And Ukwuachu’s light sentence for a grievous assault.

Shortly after Ukwuachu’s conviction, Starr called for “a complete internal inquiry” into circumstances surrounding the rape, including conduct of Baylor officials.

Starr followed that with the Aug. 28 statement, announcing the external investigation and the new student-athlete oversight position.

“We must guarantee there is no room at Baylor University for those who would perpetrate sexual violence on our campus,” Starr wrote in an email distributed by the president’s office.

He thanked Jeremy Counseller, a Baylor law professor and faculty athletics representative to the Big 12 Conference and the NCAA, who conducted the university’s initial inquiry into the matter.

“After reviewing the results of (Counseller’s) inquiry, I am recommending that our board of regents retain the services of outside counsel to investigate thoroughly these matters and recommend continued improvements,” Starr wrote.

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The board plans to name the outside counsel the week of Aug. 31, he said.

Also, Starr is creating a position in Baylor’s athletics division “that has the authority and oversight of all student-athlete behavior,” he said. “This officer-level position will report directly to the president and ensure our student-athletes maintain a high level of personal ethics and integrity.”

Starr plans to work directly with the regents to define that staff member’s responsibilities.

“Baylor University is committed to maintaining the highest degree of campus safety to protect the welfare of all our students,” Starr concluded. “This is central to Baylor’s mission as a Christian university and at the heart of our commitment to our students, faculty and staff. 

“We must have zero tolerance for sexual violence on our athletic teams and our campus.”

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