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A Baptist university in Waco, Texas this week demoted the school president and fired the Baylor Bears football coach after an external review of the handling of sexual abuse allegations, including against football players, proved highly problematic. Independent investigators found that Baylor authorities ignored abuse reports in violation of federal law, according to ESPN.
The now-demoted Baylor president, Kenneth Starr (best known for his investigation of Bill Clinton), apologized to sexual assault victims for his previous indifference, saying he was sorry they were not treated with the care, concern, and support they deserve. Baylor's board of regents too expressed dismay. Let's see what independent investigators found and what the school had to say.
Baylor University football players were allegedly raping women on campus and school authorities ignored the reports until they could not any longer. In August of last year, the school ordered an external review of this matter as cases began to mount, along with accusations against school officials.
This week, the Baylor board of regents said the review revealed a "fundamental failure by Baylor to implement Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013." In other words, the investigation revealed that the school ignored federal law and chose not to protect victims of sexual violence so that football players could keep playing, discouraging reporting of crime.
This would be a brutal approach anywhere, on any campus. But what makes this indifference particularly egregious at Baylor is the fact that it is a Christian college that cares about caring. The Baylor Mission statement is as follows: "The mission of Baylor University is to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community."
With that motto in mind, it is not surprising that the board of regents removed Starr from his seat as president of the university, or fired the coach. According to ESPN, Richard Willis, chairman of the Baylor board of regents, said in a statement, "We were horrified by the extent of these acts of sexual violence on our campus. This investigation revealed the University's mishandling of reports in what should have been a supportive, responsive and caring environment for students."
One former student seemed surprised by the fact that there was such a strong response from the school. Jasmin Hernandez, a sexual assault survivor, and former Baylor attendee, told reporters that she was "very surprised" by Baylor's actions given "they've shown over the years to react as minimally as possible."