Photo: Courtesy of Tribune New Service

Column: Big picture overlooked in Baylor scandal

The world is an incredibly unjust place. We so often hear of instances where people are wrongfully accused of crimes they did not commit or of penalties and prison sentences that do not fit the offenses.

Then, there are times where the criminals get away with the crime, even though everyone knows what terrible act or acts they committed. That is what may have happened in Waco, Texas, with the Baylor football program.

In late January 2017, a new lawsuit was filed against Baylor University alleging that 52 instances of sexual assault were committed by over 30 football players in a span of four years. That is a staggering, disheartening and disgusting number if  it indeed is true.

Now, this is a new lawsuit, so it is unknown whether it is accurate. What we do know, however, is that former Baylor football players Tevin Elliott and Sam Ukwuachu were tried and found guilty of sexual assault. Shawn Oakman was arrested, but he is still awaiting trial.

Many believe that former Baylor President Ken Starr, former head football coach Art Briles and others involved in the Baylor Athletic Department knew about these incidents of sexual assault and did not do enough to help the victims out. In some instances, they completely ignored the accusations.

They are being accused of creating an atmosphere where it was acceptable to sexually assault someone — one in which they would help sweep the incident under the rug because they were helping football players.

In September 2015, the university’s Title IX office issued a no-contact order for an alleged victim of sexual assault perpetrated by Baylor offensive lineman Rami Hammad. The victim talked with another student, and they both realized they were sexually assaulted by Hammad. One of the victims decided to file a report to Baylor’s Title IX office.

Then in late October of 2015, Hammad had a judicial affairs trial, but when one of the victims asked about the results she was informed that she couldn't be told what they were, according to ESPN. Regardless of what the results were, Hammad would go on to play every game that fall.

That is not even the most insulting part, though. According to ESPN, the victim that reported the assault received an email from Baylor’s Title IX office advising her to avoid Hammad by leaving an academic building they shared together through a different door than usual.

She told ESPN, "I never got a result from the trial, and now I'm being told how to exit the building as if I'm the one who's being charged? I felt like I was being punished and treated like a criminal."

Actions like this by a university are unacceptable. Actions like this by the largest Baptist university in the world make it even harder to stomach. A school that was founded around the teachings of Christ is now putting football over the safety and well-being of its students.

Pundits on TV are too busy debating whether the Baylor football program should get the death penalty or not. They aren’t seeing the big picture. There is a grand injustice no one is talking about: Art Briles, Ken Starr, athletics director Ian McCaw and others who were in the Athletic Department are seemingly facing no criminal investigation.

How is it acceptable to punish a new administration for the alleged crimes of the previous one while those same people are getting off with nothing more than a slap on the wrist?

How is it acceptable that the football players that committed the acts face criminal charges, but those who are accused of obstructing justice don’t even have to think about facing jail time?

Art Briles lawyered up but only so he could file a multi-million dollar lawsuit against Baylor. Give him a nice cash payout on his way to a comfy retirement since there is no way he will ever coach again. He obviously does not care about what he is accused of doing, otherwise he wouldn’t have the gall to try and grab some cash on his way out of the door.

Ken Starr remained a professor at the university, and now, he is being considered for a position in President Trump’s administration.

Two young, African-American men head to jail while a couple of old white guys are looking for a new way to stuff their pockets.

The injustices at Baylor are not done and they never will be. Those who are accused of enabling and nurturing a culture of sexual assault are walking away with nothing more than a black mark on their resume that, apparently, some people are soulless enough to look past.

So go ahead, give Baylor the death penalty. Punish the new coaches and players who had nothing to do with this. Punish the fans who are embarrassed by the actions of those that they trusted and cheered for. Punish the ones who committed the terrible acts of sexual assault. In the end, it appears those who are being accused of catalyzing the whole thing are going to get away — the ones who may have made it seem acceptable to do all of this. The only thing the death penalty will show coaches and administrations is that they just need to do a better job covering up things like this.

An investigation could have been a chance to show people that, if you obstruct justice and create a despicable culture, then you will be penalized just like the people who committed the crimes. But instead the unending cycle of injustice keeps spinning.



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