WACO — Baylor University officials responded Monday to a scathing ESPN investigative report that claimed the school turned a blind eye toward sexual assault victims in favor of the football team.
While not directly responding to the allegations in the story, part of the university's statement read:
"Responding quickly, compassionately and appropriately to allegations of interpersonal violence according to the evolving mandates of Title IX...is a priority for all universities."
The ESPN report focused on three women, all university students at the time they say they were sexually assaulted by former Baylor football player Tevin Elliot.
Their powerful first person accounts served as the backdrop, while painting a bleak picture of the university's response.
The women say the university ignored their claims, and failed to give them the support that is required by federal law. The report says the law requires a university investigation of sexual assault, but found no action was taken by Baylor.
One woman said a university official told her five other women were raped by the same football player, and officials in the football department knew about it.
That particular official, associate dean for student conduct Bethany McCraw, refuted that claim in the ESPN report.
Also included in the report: The mother of one of the victims said she called the school to report her daughter had been raped, but she was told, "If a plane falls on your daughter, there is nothing we can do to help."
Elliot was convicted in 2012 for sexually assaulting one of the women, and is currently serving a 20-year sentence in a state prison.
Another former Baylor player, Sam Ukwauchu, was convicted on a sexual assault charge in August and sentenced to 180 days in jail and 10 years' probation.
Meanwhile on campus Monday, students reacted to the report with shock, disbelief, and even fear.
"I just thought it was really scary, because since Baylor is a Christian campus, you don't expect sexual assault cases that often... especially to be covered up, " said Baylor sophomore Marissa Bentivengo.
Other students wrestled with the possibility of their institution being guilty of covering up such horrible acts to save face.
"I hope not, but at the same time... I don't know," said freshman Caroline Dobbs. "The Baylor that I know, I don't think they would... but I don't really know."
Other students said say there will be much more concerned with the fallout if the allegations prove to be true.