Baylor outlines review of how it handled sexual assault cases

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Monday, February 8, 2016

In a letter to the Baylor community, university president and chancellor Ken Star outlined the "comprehensive external review" of the school's response to sexual violence reports that he said the school initiated the past fall.

His letter came a week after ESPN Outside the Lines reported that Baylor officials ignored the accusations of sexual assault victims.

"Baylor has provided unfettered access to Pepper Hamilton to any information requested, and we will continue to cooperate fully with their comprehensive review," Starr wrote. "We have requested, and we expect, a frank and candid assessment that both addresses past practices and offers forward-looking recommendations."

Despite being a private school, Baylor is required by federal law -- Title IX -- to thoroughly investigate allegations of sexual violence and provide security, counseling services and academic help to those who report assaults. Part of the law's goal is to help keep victims in school.

However, in the cases of multiple victims at Baylor, the investigation by Outside the Lines found several examples in which school officials failed to investigate or adequately investigate allegations of sexual violence. In many cases, officials did not provide support to those who reported assaults.

"They didn't just not respond -- they responded by turning me away and telling me that it was not possible for me to receive help from them," one victim, identified as Tanya, told Outside the Lines.

Starr explained that although Baylor is reviewing its response to sexual violence reports, it will not be commenting on any individual cases.

"While Baylor can speak generally to policies, procedures and practices, we cannot speak to individual cases and remain within the confines of governing law," Starr said in citing the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

Outside the Lines reported that two of the victims, Tanya and another woman identified as Kim, signed FERPA release forms, thus essentially waiving their rights under student privacy laws, to allow Baylor officials to discuss their cases with ESPN.

Information from ESPN's Paula Lavigne contributed to this report.

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