In a recent investigation conducted by ESPN’s Outside the Lines revealed that Baylor University has a serious problem in handling its sexual assault and rape complaints – especially when those claims are made against its football players.
ESPN spoke to Tanya (her name was changed because she is a victim of sexual assault) who said that she was a virgin when Tevin Elliott, a former defensive end for Baylor University, sexually assaulted her in 2012. After the assault, she went to the hospital and filed a police report that resulted in Elliott’s removal from Baylor University’s campus. When she returned to campus, Tanya asked Baylor campus police if there was anything that could be done to help her because Elliott still lived in Waco, Texas. ESPN stated that campus police replied that nothing could be done because the assault happened off campus.
Outside the Lines found this same reaction – or perhaps lack of a reaction – was repeated to Tanya by the Baylor student health center and a Baylor academic services group. In fact, the academic services group informed Tanya’s mother that “if a plane fell on your daughter, there’s nothing we can do to help” when Tanya’s grades were declining after the crime.
In a final attempt to locate academic support for her daughter, Tanya’s mother was handed exit forms by the school. Tanya dropped out of Baylor, moved back home and enrolled in community college.
Unfortunately, Tanya is not the first woman to leave Baylor University after being sexually assaulted by one of its students. She is not the first student to be ignored by Baylor officials after reporting the crime, either. According to ESPN, a soccer player accused football player, Sam Ukwuachu, of rape in 2013. The soccer player dropped out after being diagnosed with PTSD related to the rape and having her academic scholarship reduced while recovering from an injury.
Ukwuachu was benched after the claims were made against him, but remained a member of the Baylor football team. Despite the sexual assault changes, a defensive coordinator for the football team said that he expected Ukwuachu to play in the 2015 season. Ukwuachu maintained his innocence throughout the trial.
In an interview with McLennan County Assistant District Attorney, Hillary LaBorde, LaBorde told Outside The Lines that Baylor University’s investigation faulted the soccer player for being friends with Ukwuachu and for having gone to his apartment twice before the night she was raped.
LaBorde continued, stating that she had “no explanation for [Baylor’s lack of action] other than it’s just some 1940s mentality of how women should behave.”
Ukwuachu was sentenced to six months in county jail and 10 years probation on August 21, 2015 after pleading not guilty to sexual assault. Elliott no longer resides in Waco, Texas, and is currently serving a 20 year prison sentence after being convicted of two counts of sexual assault against Tanya. Several other women (as many as six, according to Outside The Lines) made complaints against Elliott as well, but Tanya’s was the strongest case.
A sexual assault nurse examiner for McLennan County told Outside The Lines that “Baylor has more sexual assault cases – than we do exams on – compared to other schools with the same approximate population.” She added that she sees around eight Baylor students a year and that Baylor athletes comprise between 25 and 50 percent of the alleged perpetrators.
Title IX requires all colleges to thoroughly investigate allegations of sexual violence. Schools are required to provide security, counseling services and academic help to those who report assaults. The point of the legislation is to keep students in school and to ensure that their trauma does not affect their academic performance. The fact that several women have been pushed out of Baylor University after making sexual assault claims against football players reveals that the university is not adhering to the new Title IX mandates.
Tanya’s mother told Outside The Lines that Baylor’s interests do not reside with those who come forward and claim that they have been assaulted or raped by football players. “Their football team is their priority,” she said. “The money that comes to them is their priority. … They don’t care about their students. They don’t care about the victims.”
The lack of action and support for sexually assaulted students by Baylor University is despicable. These cases demonstrate a textbook definition of victim-blaming. It’s time that we fix this harmful mindset and begin punishing sexual assaulters. Schools should not be giving special treatment to student-athletes who are accused of sexual assault because they are a revenue source for the school – they should be held accountable for their actions. Rape is a crime, period.