Baylor settles sexual assault lawsuit involving 15 women

Despite Baylor's beautiful campus, the university still has its shortcomings and failings regarding Title IX. Roundup File Photo

By Madeline Condor | Staff Writer, Tatum Mitchell | News Editor

A settlement was reached Monday in the Title IX lawsuit involving 15 women against Baylor University.

The filings began in 2016, with the first being brought to court in June of that year. There is a total of 15 Jane Does in the case who reported sexual assault during their time at the university, and two cases involved three Baylor football players.

After a legal process that took more than seven years, the case was settled during a mediation ordered by the court, occurring from May 9 to Sept. 15 in Austin. The details of the settlement remain confidential.

“We are deeply sorry for anyone connected with the Baylor community who has been harmed by sexual violence,” Baylor said in a statement. “While we can never erase the reprehensible acts of the past, we pray that this agreement will allow these 15 survivors to move forward in a supportive manner.”

One of the attorneys for the women, Jim Dunnam, said in an interview with the Waco Tribune-Herald that the rulings “have literally impacted national policy throughout the United States, and as a result, thousands of young women will hopefully not be subjected to sexual assault, and if that occurs, the university will better support them.”

In fall 2015, the Baylor Board of Regents brought in Pepper Hamilton, a law firm, to conduct a review of the university’s response to the Title IX lawsuit and related issues within the case. Since the investigation, the university has taken 105 recommendations from the findings and used them as part of evolving its Title IX training.

“There have been dozens of rulings in this case that have provided findings in Title IX and what you are required to do, and those are now being taught in curriculum for faculty, administrators and general counsel,” Dunnam said in an interview with the Waco Tribune-Herald.

In 2016, a finding of fact from the Baylor Board of Regents said the key discoveries from Pepper’s investigation indicate a “fundamental failure by Baylor to implement Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX) and the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (VAWA).”

Pepper’s investigation also pointed to failings within the football program and athletic department, including “failure to identify and respond to a pattern of sexual violence by a football player and to a report of dating violence,” according to the finding of fact.

Following Pepper’s investigation in 2016, former head football coach Art Briles was fired, and former Baylor President Ken Starr was removed from his role as president. Starr remained as chancellor and a chair at Baylor Law School before fully separating from the university later that year.

The Lariat reached out to Jim Dunnam and other attorneys involved but did not receive responses at the time of publication.