When former tight end Tre’Von Armstead was dismissed from Baylor’s football team last year, the team said it was because he violated team rules. A report today by Paula Lavigne for ESPN’s Outside the Lines shows that the dismissal happened a week after Baylor began an investigation for possible sexual assault involving him. The allegation involved Armstead and former practice squad player Myke Chatman. Armstead eventually was expelled; Chatman left the university before the investigation process began.
Armstead appealed his expulsion, but the decision was upheld last week, OTL reported. He could appeal it again, to Baylor President and Chancellor Kenneth Starr, but declined. A representative for his family told OTL that Armstead is considering a lawsuit.
OTL’s report details both the night when the alleged rape occurred and the Baylor inquiry, but what stands out is a gap of more than two years between when the rape was reported to the police and when Baylor began its own investigation. Waco police responded on April 18, 2013, after getting a call from the woman’s friends, who believed she had been attacked. Earlier, several students were hanging out at the apartment of Shawn Oakman, where OTL reported they drank vodka and some smoked marijuana. At some point, the woman left with Armstead and Chatman. From the police report, obtained by OTL.
Police also saw bruising, but the woman said she had not been sexually assaulted. She returned to the police, two days later. From the report:
The woman went to a hospital for a sexual assault exam, but said she did not want to press charges.
During a follow-up interview several days later, according to the police report, the woman said “she knows it looks bad because she was drinking and can’t remember. She said she ended up making the report because of how her friends said she was acting, and she was bruised. At a minimum, she wants a report made in case they do this to someone else.”
The woman told Outside the Lines that she was confident that she had been assaulted: “I would never willingly engage in sex with someone like that, especially with two men at the same time.” But she said officers told her that she didn’t have a very strong case.
Waco police never interviewed Armstead or Chatman, OTL reported. The case was suspended in May.
Did Waco police tell Baylor? The police paperwork says they did. The department spokesman told OTL on Tuesday night that “he did not know whom his department had contacted at Baylor.” The woman told Lavigne the police also told her they had contacted Baylor, but she never heard anything from the university. The school’s Title IX report claims Baylor didn’t know about the allegations until the woman came to them in 2015, after a friend went to a sexual assault prevention training program and encouraged her to come forward.
Baylor declined to answer OTL’s questions. Baylor started looking into what happened on Sept. 11, 2015, more than two years after the police report was taken. (Under Title IX, all universities that accept federal funding are required to promptly investigate allegations of rape.)
Ultimately, Baylor ruled in February to expel Armstead. Its report said that “the woman was too drunk to consent to sex and that Armstead should have known that.” And while police weren’t able to recover the woman’s text messages, Baylor was able to with the help of a third party and used them in its final report.
It also stated Armstead’s credibility was damaged after witness testimony and text messages showed he lied about where he went later that night and whether he had exchanged text messages with the woman. Armstead didn’t see it as a lie; he said in his appeal he simply couldn’t remember what happened during a night that was two-and-a-half years ago regarding a woman he barely knew.
OTL reports that Armstead stayed at Baylor, despite the advice of his coaches who “urged Armstead to opt for a transfer instead of challenging the school’s expulsion.” Ultimately, both the woman and Armstead question the two-year gap in between investigations, and each said it hurt their cases. The full story, which is well worth your time, can be read here.