Baylor moved Tuesday to dismiss a federal lawsuit filed in January filed by a former student who claimed to have been gang-raped by a pair of football players in 2013. In addition, her complaint alleged 52 “acts of rape” committed by the school’s football players between 2011 and 2014.
Those numbers were far higher than the eye-opening figures cited by school regents from the report of an outside law firm, which found that 17 women had reported 19 incidents of sexual or domestic assault by Baylor football players since 2011. However, in its court filing Tuesday, Baylor said it “does not agree with or concede the accuracy of Plaintiff’s 146-paragraph complaint and its immaterial and inflammatory assertions.”
“Baylor moves to dismiss Plaintiff’s assault, failure to investigate, and negligence claims because they are barred by the two-year statute of limitations,” stated the document, filed with a U.S. District Court that includes Baylor’s home of Waco, Texas, in its jurisdiction. The move to dismiss also claimed that the allegations of the woman, referred to as Elizabeth Doe, “do not rise to the level of ‘deliberate indifference.’ “
Doe alleged in her complaint that on April 18, 2013 – an annual date known as “Diadeloso” (“Day of the Bear”) at Baylor and marked by a lack of classes and an encouragement of social interaction – she was raped by two freshman football players, Tre’Von Armstead and Shamycheal Chatman, and that Baylor ignored the situation. She also claimed that her position as a member of the school’s female recruiting team, called the Baylor Bruins, contributed to the incident.
“Baylor’s recruiting policies and practices, along with the Baylor Bruin football hostess program, directly contributed to the creation of a culture of sexual violence that permeated Baylor and from which Ms. Doe would soon suffer,” the lawsuit stated.
The lawsuit also contended that Kendal Briles, a former assistant football coach and son of former head coach Art Briles, told a recruit, “Do you like white women? Because we have a lot of them at Baylor, and they love football players.”
“While broadly and needlessly impugning the integrity of the many female students who honorably participated in the Bruins organization, Plaintiff does not allege that she herself was ever asked by any Baylor official, directly or indirectly, to participate in the ‘good time’ recruiting policy that she claims to have existed,” Baylor said Tuesday, “nor does she claim that her alleged assault occurred in conjunction with any recruiting activity.”
More broadly, the lawsuit claimed that “Baylor football players were responsible for . . . the most widespread culture of sexual violence and abuse of women ever reported in a collegiate athletic program,” adding, “Baylor football under Briles had run wild, in more ways than one, and Baylor was doing nothing to stop it.”
“Although Baylor appreciates the sensitivity and seriousness of the issue of sexual assault – a fact demonstrated by its voluntary release of the Pepper Hamilton investigation findings in May 2016 – Plaintiff’s inflammatory and immaterial allegations must be disregarded when evaluating whether Plaintiff has stated a claim,” the university said in Tuesday’s filing.
Armstead and Chatman were arrested last week and indicted in connection with the 2013 incident. Another former Baylor football player, Sam Ukwuachu, had a sexual-assault conviction overturned last week by a Texas appeals court, with the case remanded for retrial. Two other ex-Bears, Tevin Elliott and Shawn Oakman, have been convicted of and indicted on rape charges, respectively, in an ongoing scandal that has cost the jobs of Briles and other senior Baylor officials and spawned numerous lawsuits.
On Friday, lawyers for 10 women (in addition to Doe) who are suing Baylor for its alleged indifference to their rapes by football players filed notice to subpoena materials from Pepper Hamilton’s investigation into the school. “It’s long past time for the truth of how senior administrators discouraged and retaliated against the young women for reporting sexual assault,” Jim Dunnam, one of the lawyers, said Monday (via the Waco Tribune-Herald).
“We’ll never have transparency until they stop saying this was just a football problem,” he added. “Every time they say it is just a football problem is further victimization of the over 100 young women who were wronged that had nothing to do with football.”