Baylor University officials have finally broken their silence over the sexual violence scandal that led to the departure of football coach Art Briles and school president Kenneth Starr.
In interviews with The Wall Street Journal, regents at the university released findings from an outside investigation conducted by Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton.
The scandal involved 17 women who reported domestic violence or sexual assaults that involved 19 players since 2011. Four were alleged gang rapes, according to Baylor regents.
In at least one of the cases, regents said, Briles knew about the complaint but didn’t alert police or the proper Baylor officials.
The investigation showed that some players allegedly took part in a “horrifying and painful” string of sexual assaults over several years, according to one regent.
The university has been widely criticized for its silence and secrecy regarding the sexual assault allegations and investigation. Lawsuits from more than a dozen former students alleging Baylor repeatedly disregarded reports of sexual assault have been filed against the school.
Starr, who left his position this summer in what was called a “mutually agreed separation,” has criticized the lack of transparency on the part of the regents. He said he was never briefed on the findings that are now being released, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Briles, who became known for turning Baylor’s football team into one of the top college teams in the nation, said in an interview with ESPN that he felt remorse for what took place at the school under his leadership.
“I made mistakes,” he said. “I did wrong, but I’m not doing this trying to make myself feel better for apologizing. I understand I made some mistakes. There was some bad things that went on under my watch.”
Last month, Baylor’s Title IX coordinator, Patty Crawford, resigned after complaining that the university was blocking her efforts to improve its handling of sexual assault allegations. She was hired by Baylor in 2014 after one of its former football players was sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexually assaulting a female student.
In response to Crawford’s complaint, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has begun investigating how the school handled allegations of sexual violence.
Baylor has since hired a public relations firm, G.F. Bunting, to deal with the sexual assault scandal. The firm’s website says it specializes in helping universities defend themselves against criticism, including that involving their handling of Title IX complaints.
A call to Baylor’s media communications office was not immediately returned.
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