We are working diligently to ensure that Baylor University fulfills its mission to be a caring, Christian community where our students thrive. As part of this commitment, I have directed the University to be more transparent wherever possible about the sexual assault crisis that has severely impacted our campus, our alumni and the entire Baylor family.
Both the Administration and the Board of Regents are taking this step because we came to understand that, in order to heal, the Baylor family needs more information about what happened and why.
With the launching today of a new web page www.baylor.edu/thefacts, we are providing a vehicle to fulfill that commitment. We will be providing more details about what happened at Baylor and about our ongoing efforts to learn from our mistakes and to make the right decisions moving forward. I encourage you to visit this web page on a regular basis as we strive to keep you informed. We will disclose important facts, provide a clear accounting of past Title IX incidents including sexual assaults on our campus, report about developments on a timely basis and respond to media coverage when appropriate.
When you see stories in the press, it is important to note several things about the independent, external Pepper Hamilton review:
Many journalists continue to demand the release of the "Pepper Hamilton Report." You should know, while the lawyers from Pepper Hamilton gave presentations to the Board of Regents and some administrators about their findings, they never created or delivered a written report.
The evidence shows that the breadth of the problem was staggering within the University and within the football program: since 2011, a total of 17 victims reported allegations of sexual assault or domestic violence by 19 football players. Four of these involved alleged gang rapes that were reported to have occurred in 2012.
Faced with the weight of the information from Pepper Hamilton, the Regents concluded by an overwhelming majority that Baylor University and its football program needed new leadership. No other university faced with similar circumstances has moved as decisively to change leadership at the highest levels - its President, Athletic Director and Head Football Coach.
These painful, often agonizing decisions were not based on specific incidents – but on the extent of the problems, organizational shortcomings and repeated failures to care for those who came forward to report sexual violence. With regard to assistant football coaches and other administrators, we decided it would be unfair to remove those further down in the organization for the mistakes of their leaders.
This spring, the University also adopted and began implementation of Pepper Hamilton's 105 recommendations for sweeping change, including the dedication of more resources to our Title IX office. At that time, Baylor believed those actions, combined with the release of the 13-page Findings of Fact, adequately demonstrated our commitment to disclosure and reform. Since then, however, it has become obvious that our faculty, staff, students, alumni and community all needed and deserved more information. We are committed to healing our Baylor family.
It is with this in mind that we are now discussing more openly what Baylor has learned over the past year. Be assured the support and comfort of the victims who were impacted by sexual violence and our institutional failures to respond appropriately will remain foremost in our hearts and our actions.
Anyone who has had firsthand experience of sexual assault understands that many victims go through a deep sense of shame, guilt and fear. Some may be afraid that no one will listen to them or believe them or that they will be the targets of retaliation. These incidents may leave lifelong scars. This is the reason we are working so hard to remove barriers to reporting and to provide a supportive environment for our students.
That Baylor did not respond as a caring Christian community to those who were hurt grieves all of us – regents, administrators, faculty and staff. On behalf of everyone at Baylor, I want to apologize again to the victims and their families. I will do all I can to ensure this never happens again.
Baylor is on a course of continuous improvement as we work to ensure that all students have the opportunity to find and follow their calling. This is the mission of Baylor University and this will be our guide into a bright future.