For Tanya, a student at Baylor University in Waco, it all began one night when she was shoved into the mud and sexually assaulted by one of the school’s star football players.
When it was over, he allowed Tanya to walk away, only to assault her again. Tanya reported that rape but soon realized that this was only the beginning of what would become a long string of failures by police and university officials to investigate her assault.
Eventually, Tevin Elliot was arrested and convicted. Yet Elliot was found to have sexually assaulted five women over the course of his football career. It’s a story ESPN writer Paula Lavigne has been following. She found that the women who accused Elliot of assault, including Tanya, received little to no support from Baylor following the attacks.
“Every single person (Tanya) went to, she was told, ‘There’s nothing we can do to help you,'” Lavigne says. “The stress of dealing with – not only the trauma of the incident – but then following up with the work she had to do with the police department, preparing for the trial and everything, she couldn’t focus on her studies. … (She) ended up losing her scholarship, dropping out of Baylor and moving home.”
Lavigne reached out to Baylor’s President Ken Starr for comment. She didn’t get one.
“As concerning as that is, what’s more concerning is that one of the women involved in the trial … she emailed Ken Starr, and the subject line of her email was ‘I Was Raped At Baylor,’ and she laid out what happened to her, and she offered all these suggestions as to what the school could do,” Lavigne says. “He never responded to her. You know what, he doesn’t respond to a reporter? OK, fine. But not responding to her? I think that that’s concerning.”
McLennan County Assistant District Attorney Hilary LaBorde prosecuted the cases against Elliot and Sam Ukwuachu, another Baylor football player found guilty of sexual assault. LaBorde told Lavigne that Baylor’s investigation of the allegations weren’t much of an investigation at all, and that officials seemed to have a limited understanding of how rape on college campuses happens.
“(LaBorde) says, ‘It seems as if they have some sort of 1940s mentality as to how women behave,'” Lavigne says. “She makes another comment like ‘If they’re waiting for a case of college rape to be where a women is swept off the sidewalk in a trench coat, they’re going to be waiting a long time.'”
Elliot and Ukwuachu were eventually prosecuted, but not before a long ordeal that, Lavigne says, doesn’t paint a flattering picture of Baylor’s response to rape allegations against its star athletes.
“It tells me that, despite the U.S. Department of Education issuing some very specific guidelines in April of 2011 that put colleges and universities across the country on notice as to what they should do, that Baylor clearly was not, in many cases, following those,” Lavigne says.
“It’s disturbing because there’s been so much attention and so much press to the issues of college rape … you would have hoped by now that every university across this country would have gotten the message.”
Texas Standard reached out to Baylor University for comment on ESPN’s allegations. You can read Baylor’s full statement here.