Jury: Baylor, ex-football players not responsible for alleged sexual assault
HOUSTON, Texas (KWTX) - A Houston jury, after several hours of deliberation Wednesday, found that Baylor and three former football players were not responsible for the alleged sexual assault of a female athlete in 2017.
The woman alleged in the lawsuit filed in March 2019 she was intoxicated without her consent and raped in her room in a university housing complex in the fall of 2017, a year and a half after the school fired head football coach Art Briles following the scathing Pepper Hamilton review, has gone to trial in Houston.
The woman, identified in the suit by the pseudonym Annie Andrews, claimed one Baylor football player surreptitiously added alcohol to her drink, and then two other players sexually assaulted her while a fourth recorded video that was later posted on Instagram.
“This was an important decision that recognized Baylor is not the same institution as it was three, four and even five years ago, when the university took several unprecedented actions, including leadership changes and the broad implementation of 105 campus-wide recommendations regarding its response to past incidents of sexual and interpersonal violence within the campus community,” the school said in a statement Thursday.
“These extensive changes – successfully implemented campus-wide before the alleged incident in this case occurred in late 2017 – focused on 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; clear and comprehensive policies and procedures; and new personnel, including a highly trained and well-staffed Title IX Office.”
The suit alleged former Baylor player Tre’Von Lewis sexually assaulted Andrews while another player, Justin Harris, recorded video later shared with other freshman players on Instagram.
Andrews, the suit says, “suffered emotionally, academically and athletically as a result of her sexual assaults and exploitation and she was forced with withdraw from Baylor after a tumultuous and anxiety-ridden semester.”
Within 36 hours of the report of the incident, Harris, Lewis and a third player, John Arthur, who was named in the original suit, had been suspended from the team, Baylor said.
The university said it was important to note the suit was not a Title IX case, but instead one involved Texas premises liability law.
The trial before 234th District Court Judge Lauren Reeder started on May 20 in Houston’s NRG Arena.
The incident allegedly occurred at the University Parks Apartments near campus overnight on Nov. 11, 2017, into the early morning hours of Nov. 12 after the Baylor football team lost to Texas Tech at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
None of the four players named in the original suit was recruited by Briles, and days earlier, on Nov. 3, 2017, the university announced an external review found the school had effectively implemented the 105 recommendations included in the Pepper Hamilton review university regents released on May 26, 2016, following a nine-month investigation by the Philadelphia based law firm.
The findings led to Briles’ firing, the reassignment of Chancellor and President Ken Starr, and the suspension of athletic director Ian McCaw.
Baylor’s online crime log says the incident was reported on Nov. 14, 2017, as “Alcohol-Minors Consuming/Sexual Assault,” and was referred to the school’s Judicial Affairs and Title IX offices, but the two heavily redacted police reports obtained by KWTX say only that campus officers took a report of a sexual assault.
The reports—one an incident report and the other a criminal case report—identify the complainant as Jane Doe 2 and the victim as Jane Doe.
Both were students and four to five sources familiar with the incident say both were members of the school’s equestrian team.
In June 2018, a McLennan County grand jury declined to indict Lewis and Arthur.
Lewis was kicked off the team in July 2018 following a theft arrest.
The Baylor Police Department’s arrest log showed he was arrested for misdemeanor theft of property over $100, but under $750, but provided no further details.
Arthur left the university of his own accord, then Baylor head coach Matt Rhule said in July 2018.
In August 2018, Harris announced he planned to transfer from Baylor.
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