Crawford deposition implicates regent, negative culture in Title IX case

Former Baylor Title IX coordinator Patty Crawford's deposition included new information about Willis, Baylor Board of Regents. Photo Courtesy of Baylor University

By Kalyn Story | Print Managing Editor

Patty Crawford, the former Title IX Coordinator at Baylor, said in an Aug. 2 deposition. The deposition was released to the public Tuesday, stated that a group of faculty members viewed Title IX regulations as “not biblical” and that the regents were not on board with her position existing.

Crawford said Baylor would not provide her with IT resources she requested to be able to implement a software program to track assault complaints and witness interviews. She said she was also prevented from providing brochures to sexual assault victims who reported to the police directly.

According to another court filing, Baylor adopted a policy in 2013 that categorized areas of concern into tier levels. Tier one, being of the highest priority, included those that the Board of Regents considered to be immediate concern to the university.

Complying with Title IX was assigned to tier two. Tier one issues included safeguarding and improving Baylor’s reputation, monitoring the status of the Big 12 Conference and Baylor’s continued membership and ensuring processes are in place for the safe travel of university personnel. Preventing significant lawsuits and claims relating to professional liability, discrimination or equal opportunity noncompliance was relegated to tier three, the bottom tier.

The document states that former regent Ramiro Peña testified in September 2018 that he was still “rather indifferent” to Title IX, that he never recalls the board being advised about Title IX or that he understood Title IX to have a component outside of athletics.

Crawford also said in the deposition that the Baylor Bruins, an all-woman student group that recruited football players, were part of an underlying culture of objectifying women at Baylor. Crawford said her suggestions about the group, such as having the women wear pants instead of “tight mini-shorts,” were ignored by leadership.

Crawford said the Bruins were “sort of like on call for football players to make sure that they had a good time and they know they were — there were going to be beautiful women at Baylor kind of thing.”

Crawford said she’d heard there were Bruins getting pregnant by football players and were no longer able to be Bruins due to their pregnancy, which Crawford said would be a Title IX violation because the Bruins were paid employees and cannot be discriminated against for pregnancy.

In February 2017 a former Baylor Bruin filed a lawsuit against Baylor, suing for Title IX violations and negligence. In the lawsuit Elizabeth Doe claimed Baylor had a “show ’em a good time” recruiting policy, which included making Baylor Bruins available for sex with recruits, taking recruits to strip clubs, recruiting based on implied promises of sex and using alcohol and drugs in the recruiting process.

The lawsuit alleged that 31 Baylor football players committed at least 52 acts of rape, including five gang rapes, between 2011 and 2014. In a Wall Street Journal article from October 2016, Baylor regents said they were aware of 17 reports of sexual assault against 19 football players, including four gang rapes, since 2011.

The lawsuit describes the Bruins as “a football ‘hostess’ program with the purpose of using attractive female students to escort recruits and their families to campus events and football games on official visits to Baylor.”

The University disbanded the Baylor Bruins in late 2015 following a series of issues at other universities. The Bruins was replaced with a group of co-ed students who offer campus tours to all visitors, under the supervision of the Undergraduate Admissions Office.

A statement from the university said the Bruins had an official policy of no sexual contact with recruits/prospective athletes or current football players. It said Bruins bylaws required the members to maintain a “professional relationship” with prospective athletes at all times, prohibited outside contact with prospective athletes and discouraged personal relationships between Bruins and current athletes.

Baylor settled the case in September 2017.

Jim Dunnam, a Waco attorney representing the plaintiffs Jane Doe 1-10 in the suit, said Crawford’s deposition substantiates what other witnesses have said in regard to the treatment of women at Baylor.

“Everything [Crawford] said gives a view into the leadership at Baylor and shows why women were treated so poorly for so long,” Dunnam said.

Dunnam said the culture at Baylor, from the leadership down, directly and adversely impacted sexual assault victims.

He said her account aligns with the alleged comments made by Richard Willis, former Board of Regents chairman from 2012-2016. Two witnesses signed affidavits claiming Willis used sexist, racist and anti-Semitic language.

In their affidavits, Greg Klepper and Alejandro “Alex” Montano Urdaneta said they went on a business trip to Mexico in 2014 with Richard Willis and Peña.

They state that Willis and Peña had a conversation at a restaurant that ultimately caused the hosts to ask them to leave. They say Willis repeatedly used the phrase “that Jew b—-” to refer to Alice Starr, wife of then Baylor President Ken Starr, that Willis said Ken Starr could not do anything without Willis’ approval, and that he was going to get rid of Ken Starr.

Klepper and Urdaneta both declared in sworn affidavits that Willis said something along the lines of “Baylor has the best n—– [football] players because we have the best blonde-haired, blue-eyed p—- in the state of Texas.”

Klepper and Urdaneta said Peña seemed supportive of Willis’ comments regarding Willis’ power over the university.

Willis and Peña have both denied those statements were made.

“Let me be exceedingly clear: I never used any of the reprehensible words that Mr. Klepper claims I did,” Willis said in a letter sent to the Board of Regents on Tuesday. “The alleged comments are so reprehensible that it absolutely sickens me to think that anyone would go to such lengths to maliciously smear me or anyone else for having used them.”

Willis resigned from the Board in 2017 and was accused in July by former athletics director Ian McCaw of providing barriers towards the reporting of sexual assault on campus. McCaw also accused the Board of Regents of racism and fraudulent reporting of Baylor’s response to assaults. Baylor has denied the allegations.

Joel T. Allison, current chair of the Baylor Board of Regents, said in an emailed statement to the Lariat that these allegations, if true, are not reflective of what Baylor stands for and emphasizes that the board doesn’t take such severe accusations lightly.

“The Board certainly takes these allegations seriously, and Baylor will continue to be diligent in determining the facts of what allegedly occurred,” Allison wrote. “Such comments — if they were made — do not reflect the Baylor that I know, nor my involvement as a member of the Board of Regents.”

Baylor University President Dr. Linda Livingstone sent an email to students, faculty and staff Monday night in response to the allegations made against Willis.

“The alleged comments are in direct opposition to everything Baylor stands for, and are so egregious that the University immediately launched an investigation when they first came to light through the litigation process a month ago,” Livingstone said.

Livingstone said in the email that the investigation will continue until the truth comes out regarding the alleged comments made by Willis, and that the university will act diligently once findings are released.

“Baylor has made great strides in recent years to enhance diversity and cultural competency on our campus. All of us at the University have worked hard to create an environment in which all students, faculty and staff are treated with respect and dignity,” Livingstone said. “Our prompt and thorough response to these allegations once again shows how seriously we take this commitment.”

Willis and Baylor jointly filed motions Wednesday asking U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman to unseal Klepper’s deposition.

“The Sealed Filings should be unsealed so that the public can fairly examine the entirety of Mr. Klepper’s allegations, including his biases, and judge the veracity of his allegations,” Willis’ motion states.

Willis originally filed a motion asking that the documents be sealed, but withdrew that motion after the affidavits were given to local media and made public.

Baylor joined Willis in the motion, saying that at this point, all of the filings regarding this matter should be unsealed. Their motion states that Klepper’s attorney, Don Riddle, has represented that a tape of the alleged conversation exists but has refused to produce the tape.

“Baylor has repeatedly stated that alleged statements are horrifically offensive and repugnant, and contrary to the University’s core values. Baylor has done nothing but attempt to discover the truth since the allegations surfaced. The fact is that two witnesses say the alleged statements were made, and two witnesses say they were not. A tape of the conversation … would presumably settle the swearing match,” Baylor’s motion stated.

Judge Pitman is expected to rule on the motions soon.

Baylor is currently accepting nominations for two alumni-elected Regents.