Court filing: Art Briles tried to hide Baylor players' misconduct
A new court filing on Thursday detailed allegations that former Baylor football coach Art Briles and his assistant coaches ignored sexual assaults by players, frequently interfered in disciplinary issues and actively tried to keep cases hidden from public view.
The filing is in response to a lawsuit against Baylor and several officials including interim President David Garland by former assistant athletic director Colin Shillinglaw, who said he was falsely accused of mishandling several incidents.
According the report, Briles and his staff "created a disciplinary black hole into which reports of misconduct such as drug use, physical assault, domestic violence, brandishing of guns, indecent exposure and academic fraud disappeared."
Shillinglaw was fired in May following the investigation made by law firm Pepper Hamilton, which the school hired to assess the handling of sexual assault complaints.
The synopsis of Pepper Hamilton's report, released last May, painted the picture of a university's systematic failing of its victims of sexual assault, a university with little interest in and ill-equipped to fairly handle allegations of sexual assault, and leadership in its athletic program which "hindered enforcement of rules and policies, and created a cultural perception that football was above the rules."
The report, according to the summary, also found Baylor administrators actively discouraged some complainants from reporting or participating in student conduct processes and in one case constituted retaliation against a complainant for reporting sexual assault.
Briles was fired in May, and then-athletics director Ian McCaw resigned.
Among the information released Thursday, according to an ESPN report, was a description of what happened when the former girlfriend of Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman reported that Oakman physically abused her.
From the ESPN report:
She made a report to Waco police, and brought a copy of it to Shillinglaw and "two other people she believed to be assistant football coaches." The response to the lawsuit states, "There was no evidence that Shillinglaw or anyone in the football program shared the report with Baylor officials outside of the Athletics Department. Worse, when Pepper Hamilton questioned Shillinglaw about the incident and showed him evidence of his involvement, Shillinglaw insisted he did not recall anything about it."
The woman, a Baylor student, declined to pursue the criminal case and left the state. She returned to Baylor in the summer and fall sessions of 2013 but withdrew after more encounters with Oakman. In January 2015, the woman and her mom met with a learning accommodation specialist at Baylor who, upon hearing her story, immediately contacted judicial affairs, the Title IX office, student life and the office of general counsel. It states the specialist wrote, "I haven't seen a student as scared and upset as she was in a long time. She mentioned that she lives in constant fear, 24 hours a day she is scared that [Oakman] or his friends will come beat her up. The mom also talked about Baylor protecting the guy because he is a Baylor football player and that he had an assault record before he was at Baylor."
In a separate instance cited by ESPN:
In one of the messages, dated April 8, 2011, the response notes that Briles sent a text message to an assistant coach, referencing a freshman defensive tackle who was cited for illegal alcohol consumption, "Hopefully he's under radar enough they won't recognize name - did he get ticket from Baylor police or Waco? ... Just trying to keep him away from our judicial affairs folks. ... "
In reference to a player who was arrested for assault and threatening to kill a non-athlete, a football operations staff member "tried to talk the victim out of pressing criminal charges," the document states. The correspondence from Sept. 20, 2013, quotes Briles in a text to McCaw, "Just talked to [the player] - he said Waco PD was there - said they were going to keep it quiet - Wasn't a set up deal ... I'll get shill (Shillinglaw) to ck on Sibley." (Sibley was in reference to Waco attorney Jonathan Sibley.) It states McCaw responded, "That would be great if they kept it quiet."
Another example cited in the ESPN report included former player Tevin Elliott:
On April 1, 2012, a woman told Waco police that Elliott raped her at her apartment three days earlier. Two weeks later, on April 15, Jasmin Hernandez told police that Elliott raped her behind a pool house near one of his teammates' town homes. When the coaches learned of the allegation, an assistant coach texted Briles and told him that Elliott "firmly denies even knowing the girl." But, after interviewing Elliott the next day, the assistant told Briles that Elliott "admitted he lied to us. He was with her and said when she said stop he did."
"Wow - not good - I'll call you later," Briles replied.
When the assistant texted Briles later and told him that Elliott had been contacted by Waco police, Briles replied: "Dang it."
On Jan. 24, 2014, Elliott was convicted of raping Hernandez and was sentenced to the maximum 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. His trial would reveal accusations by three other women that he raped them and a conviction of misdemeanor physical assault of another.
"The Athletics Department's unwillingness to crack down enabled Elliott to stay at Baylor and play football," the university's response says.
Briles on Wednesday dropped a libel lawsuit against the school. He had filed the lawsuit in December, alleging that his reputation had been damaged by “false and inflammatory statements” made by Baylor officials and seeking more than $1 million in damages, saying they had “likely ended his profession and career.”
Briles has consistently denied knowledge of wrongdoing.
Briles dropped his lawsuit less than a week after another woman filed a Title IX lawsuit against the school, in which her attorneys allege there were 52 sexual assaults committed by "not less" than 31 players from 2011-14.
Contributing: The Associated Press