Controversial Baylor emails discuss sexual assault response

By Phoebe Suy | Staff Writer

Emails from former Interim President Dr. David Garland were revealed in a lawsuit filing Wednesday. The prosecution’s lawyer said the wording of the emails speak to a larger picture in which Baylor victim-blames survivors of sexual assault.

The emails were exchanged between Garland and vice president for student life Dr. Kevin Jackson, in June 2016 following a rally of sexual assault survivors on campus.

“It was heartrending to hear the deeply wounding experiences of the survivors, yet at the same time, the courage each demonstrated was inspiring,” Jackson wrote.

In the emails, Garland tells Jackson of two radio programs he listened to on the way from Big 12 conference meetings.

“I listened to ESPN rake the president [Ken Starr] over the coals — in my view —justifiably, for his blatantly obvious self-serving attempt to protect himself and his reputation,” Garland wrote. “I then listened to Fresh Air on NPR and the interview with the author of the confessional ‘Blackout,’ which added another perspective for me of what is going on in the heads of some women who may seem willingly to make themselves victims.”

Garland went on to discuss the connection between his work on a commentary of the book of Romans and the Pepper Hamilton report. He wrote that the two function similarly, in that they discuss what happened, what went wrong and ways to remedy the situation.

“The difference is that God is the one who took the steps to remedy the situation,” Garland said.

Waco lawyer Jim Dunnam, who represents the ten anonymous plaintiffs in this lawsuit with Houston lawyer Chad Dunn, said he believes Garland was victim-blaming.

“I can’t imagine that anybody would read it and not conclude it was victim-blaming,” Dunnam said. “He’s talking about what’s going on in the heads of young women who willingly make themselves victims. If that’s not victim blaming, I don’t know what is.”

Garland is currently on sabbatical and was not available for comment.

Baylor said it intends to file a response to express its position on the discovery.

“As stated previously, we will maintain our efforts to keep discovery focused on this specific case while protecting the privacy of our students and their records,” Baylor said in a statement. “This filing is one step in a long process, and out of respect for the legal proceedings in this case, the University will decline to comment further.”

On Aug. 11, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman ruled that Baylor waived attorney-client privilege with Pepper Hamilton law firm when it released the findings and conclusions of the Pepper Hamilton investigation.

Pitman ordered Baylor to produce “all materials, communications and information provided to Pepper Hamilton as part of the investigation.”

Dunnam said there have already been thousands of documents exchanged and he anticipates there will be hundreds of thousands of documents yet to come as a part of the discovery process.

Dunnam said these emails were produced by Baylor in response to discovery requests relevant to his clients’ claims.

Dunnam is a Baylor alumnus from the class of 1986 and earned his juris doctorate degree from Baylor Law School in 1987.

“To me, the students are the university, the alumni are the university. I believe that I’m representing the real university,” Dunnam said. “I’m embarrassed and appalled by how my alma mater, the leadership, has treated my fellow alumni and students.”

The trial for this lawsuit has been set for October 2018. Garland is set to return to teaching at Baylor’s George W. Truett Theological Seminary in August 2018.