By Michael Haag | Sports Editor
After a seven-year journey through the criminal justice system, former Baylor football player Sam Ukwuachu’s conviction for sexually assaulting a former student-athlete was affirmed by Waco’s 10th Court of Appeals on Thursday.
Ukwuachu, 29, was convicted in August 2015 for sexually assaulting a female soccer player at his apartment in October 2013. It was suggested he be placed on probation by the jury, and former 54th State District Judge Matt Johnson commanded Ukwuachu serve 180 days in the county jail as part of his 10-year probation.
The former defensive lineman was released on an appeal bond after he served two months and two weeks of that term.
Ukwuachu’s case, along with other Baylor football players and students who were accused of sexual assault, brought a negative light to Baylor University in terms of sexual violence issues. The accusations led to the departure of former football coach Art Briles and university president Ken Starr.
Baylor spokesperson Lori Fogleman said in a statement to the Lariat that the university has learned from those dark days of the past.
“Baylor is not the same university as it was six years ago when the university took several unprecedented actions, including leadership changes and the broad implementation of new policies, processes and procedures, regarding its response to incidents of sexual and interpersonal violence within the campus community,” Fogleman said.
Since the original conviction, Ukwuachu’s case has bounced between the 10th Court of Appeals in Waco and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Now, he still plans to continue fighting with his attorney, Bill Bratton, in Dallas.
Ukwuachu and Bratton plan to file a writ of habeas corpus with the trial court that alleges civil rights violations, according to KWTX. Ukwuachu said he will expose the system for its lies and will sue for $100 million.
Fogleman said the school has put an emphasis on being more aware of sexual assault.
“The 105 recommendations implemented at Baylor were just the beginning,” Fogleman said. “We have made great strides in training and education for all students, faculty and staff to improve awareness and prevention of sexual and interpersonal violence and to respond appropriately when such events do occur.”
Ukwuachu will continue his fight from jail, and the woman who testified that Ukwuachu sexually assaulted her at his apartment ended up losing her soccer scholarship and subsequently reached a confidential settlement in her lawsuit against Baylor.
According to Fogleman’s statement, Baylor plans to continue its progress of awareness regarding sexual violence through the university’s “Christian mission.”
“Our leadership, our board and our campus community remain continuously committed to fulfilling our Christian mission as a caring community,” Fogleman said.