Ex-Baylor official: School undermined sex assault probes

FILE - In this Aug. 3, 2016 photo, Patty Crawford, Baylor University’s first full-time Title IX coordinator, talks in her office in Waco, Texas. Crawford has resigned over a disagreement in her role overseeing changes at the Baptist school following claims it mishandled sexual assault cases over several years, tgee university said in a statement late Monday, Oct. 3, 2016.(Jerry Larson/Waco Tribune-Herald via AP)

DALLAS - The former Title IX co-ordinator at Baylor University said Wednesday that top campus leaders undermined her efforts to investigate sexual assault claims and were more concerned with protecting the Baylor "brand" than the students.

Patty Crawford told "CBS This Morning" that the university set her up "to fail from the beginning." Crawford, who resigned Monday from her role enforcing the federal standards meant to prevent discrimination based on gender, said she received "resistance" from senior leadership but did not identify those leaders.

Baylor officials marginalized her by leaving her out of meetings, undermining her authority and making decisions that should be left to a school's Title IX co-ordinator, she said. The treatment led her to file complaints with both the university and U.S. Department of Education's office for civil rights. Charges that she was the victim of retaliation are included in those complaints.

"I never had the authority, the resources or the independence to do the job appropriately," she said.

Baylor has received a storm of criticism over claims it mishandled sexual assault cases for several years. An outside review determined school administrators contributed to a "hostile" environment against assault victims. The scandal drew broad attention in large part because former football players were convicted of sexually assaulting women, and an independent review by the Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton determined the football program operated as it if were above the rules. Coach Art Briles was fired earlier this year, as was the athletic director, and President Ken Starr was removed from his post by regents and he later resigned as chancellor.

Baylor said in a statement that Crawford went public with her grievances only after the school rejected a demand for $1 million and retention of book and film rights.

"Baylor University was surprised by the action taken by Patty Crawford given her public comments in August about the strong support she felt from across the University," the statement said.

In August, Crawford talked with the Waco Tribune-Herald about her job and the changes Baylor was implementing. In that interview, she said, "I would not have stayed at Baylor through this, something from before I was here, if I didn't know and be encouraged and understand that I still have authority and opportunities to build the best."

Crawford's attorney, Rogge Dunn, who appeared with her on the network, said her federal complaint led to a mediation session with the university Monday and that Baylor has broken Texas law by revealing some aspects of the session. State law requires that mediation details remain confidential, with some limited exceptions.

In a desperate attempt to smear Patty, what they've done is violated Texas law," Dunn said.

In later comments to The Associated Press, Dunn cited the law in declining to discuss the hearing, but said Crawford is not seeking financial compensation from Baylor and has no plans to seek a film or book deal. "

Lawyers for eight women who are suing Baylor for allegedly failing to act on their claims of being assaulted seized on Crawford's resignation and her failed mediation talks as a key reason to allow them to pursue documents and interviews for their case. Baylor previously asked a federal judge to halt evidence gathering while deciding if the lawsuit can proceed.

"There is no telling how many persons with information have been shackled by a confidentiality agreement accompanied with a large payment," lawyers for the women wrote in a court filing Wednesday.

Dunn told AP that the number of sex assault complaints that were lodged since Crawford began as the Title IX co-ordinator in late 2014 increased by the "hundreds." Awareness campaigns helped, he said, but students also came to learn that Crawford's office would listen to their allegations and then follow up. Before Baylor hired a Title IX co-ordinator, charges of assault were lodged with different administrators and offices, and too often not taken seriously, Dunn said.

Crawford's assertion that her office received hundreds of assault complaints during her time with Baylor, which began in November 2014, contrasts with the far lower number of crimes the university reported to the U.S. Department of Education.

Schools must report sex assault complaints in which the university has determined that an offence occurred. Baylor did not report a single such instance of sexual assault from 2008 to 2011. There were two cases reported in 2012, six the following year and four in 2014.

Baylor officials have previously declined to discuss the numbers reported to the Department of Education, and a spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

While much of the attention about assaults on campus has focused on football players, Crawford says the problem is broader, according to Dunn.

"She thinks the Baylor administration thought if they could make athletics the scapegoat then they could say, 'OK, problem solved.'"

He added, "The problem was not solved by cleaning house with athletics."


James Vertuno in Austin, Texas, contributed to this report.


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