Court Docs: Ex-Baylor A.D. Says Everyone Was In On The Sexual-Assault Coverup

Illustration for article titled Court Docs: Ex-Baylor A.D. Says Everyone Was In On The Sexual-Assault Coverup
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Before addressing the latest revelation of horrifying details about the years Baylor spent covering up sexual assault, it is worth first noting the source. Former athletic director Ian McCaw was one of the first people to leave when the story became national news, and then landed at Liberty University, another private Baptist school where Donald Trump once gave the commencement address. He oversaw an athletic department whose football players have been, repeatedly, accused of gang rape. He is not an innocent man.


But McCaw did give a deposition as part of an ongoing lawsuit filed by 10 women who all say Baylor in various ways ignored, downplayed, or discouraged reporting of sexual assault. And portions of that deposition, as quoted in a filing today by lawyers for the Jane Does, describes a vast sexual-assault coverup that involved everyone—the Board of Regents, the PR firm G.F. Bunting + Co., and even the outside Title IX investigators—and was much bigger than just the football team.

The motion filed today is a request by lawyers for the 10 Jane Does asking the judge to do several things: review documents that McCaw says he has; have those documents produced “as appropriate”; force production of McCaw’s separation agreement with Baylor; and have McCaw provide “oral or written testimony” on questions he was told not to answer in the deposition. To make the argument, lawyers Jim Dunnam and Chad Dunn quote liberally from McCaw’s deposition, the entirety of which is under seal.

In one section of the motion, they write that McCaw said the football program was a “scapegoat” to cover up for a “decades-long, university-wide sexual assault scandal.” Here is that section in full:

These actions, which Plaintiffs are peeling back like layers of an onion, go directly to Plaintiffs’ causes of action concerning both post-reporting conduct and what McCaw says is an “elaborate plan that essentially scapegoated the black football players and the football program for being responsible for what was a decades-long, university-wide sexual assault scandal” and go directly to the pattern of conduct that created a heightened risk to Plaintiffs and other Baylor female students.

It comes up again here, where McCaw also first mentions that the Title IX investigators from the law firm Pepper Hamilton and the regents were part of the conspiracy as well. From the motion:

McCaw testified how efforts to be transparent were scrubbed, and how instead “intentional” efforts by regents “deflect[ed] attention away from their own failures and the other failures across campus,” how regents “changed the centerpiece of the story,” and how four-time Baylor Regent Chair Richard Willis “directed the Pepper Hamilton presentation to –and shaped it to accomplish the goals he was seeking.”Although urged to remain, McCaw refused to continue on as Baylor Athletic Director because he “was disgusted at that point with the regents, the racism, the phony finding of fact” and because he “did not want to be part of some Enron cover-up scheme.”

McCaw is clear as to the members of this conspiracy, naming Pepper Hamilton, six Baylor Regents, at least two senior Baylor administrators, as well as Baylor’s General Counsel. McCaw expressed disgust at the coordinated effort to conceal the University-wide failures by instead focusing exclusively on African-Americans to “scapegoat[] the black football players and the football program for being responsible for what was a decades-long, university-wide sexual assault scandal—with racially charged labels like “300 pound black football player” being freely thrown around to the exclusion of other instances of University-wide misconduct. Already revealed is the $15.1 million payment to Briles and his recommendation letter, which coupled with Baylor’s offer that McCaw remain on as A.D., reveal Baylor’s real attitude about any of their wrongdoing.


It seems like a lot, yes, but McCaw was under oath at the time.

According to one footnote in the motion, McCaw recalled hearing this from a Pepper Hamilton investigator:

McCaw spoke directly with Gina Smith of Pepper Hamilton, and he “asked what the final work product they would provide to the university. She said it would be up to the regents. They may want a detailed document. They may want a summary report, or they may ask us [Pepper Hamilton] to whitewash the whole thing.”


I sent an email to Smith, who now works with the firm Cozen O’Connor, asking for comment on what McCaw said. In response, I got an email from Jason Cook, Baylor’s vice president for marketing and communications and chief marketing officer. His email said: “The term ‘whitewash’ was never used by Gina Maisto Smith, nor did she suggest such a strategy. Her firm’s charge was to report to the Board, which would then determine the strategy and presentation format. Please attribute to a Baylor official.”

The motion goes into further detail about the conspiracy with this description of McCaw’s testimony:

McCaw testified that ultimately a trip by a select number of Regents and Chris Holmes, Baylor’s General Counsel, to visit the Pepper Hamilton offices in Pennsylvania office, resulted in the strategy of Regent Cary Gray writing “false” and “misleading finding of fact skewed to make the football program look bad to cover up the campus-wide failings.” The Baylor Board of Regents ultimately adopted these Findings, carefully omitting details of the who, what, when and where of non-athletic related failures, yet highlighting specifics only in the football section of the Findings.


The PR firm hired by Baylor also was a part of it, according to McCaw.

After its prior PR firm Ketchum quit, the head of the new PR firm, Glenn Bunting, personally encouraged McCaw to tell this lie, a scheme Bunting promised would be “mutually beneficial” to Baylor and McCaw. McCaw’s response was direct - he told Bunting “that’s not true.” McCaw then explained the real truth, concluding “so I’m not going to agree to what he proposed and he hung up on me.”


Bunting told the Waco Tribune-Herald that what McCaw said was “absurd and a complete fabrication” and that his PR firm had advocated for transparency with the public from Baylor. Here’s how Bunting describes its own work on Title IX issues on its own website: “[W]e specialize in helping academic institutions deal with hostile media inquiries while showcasing their improvements and strengths in investigating sexual assaults under Title IX.”

McCaw lays blame with the Baylor police department as well, saying the then-police chief Jim Doak discouraged people from reporting they had been raped.

McCaw testified how Doak and others discouraged reporting and systematically buried rape reports, concealed them from McCaw when they involved sports, causing McCaw to only learn of them through ESPN. McCaw said that one recording even reveals a Police dispatcher putting a young women reporting her rape on hold to order himself a meal.


Why would so many people take so much time and effort to pull off such a conspiracy? McCaw is quoted as saying it was all about money.

McCaw explained the cover up motivation —“It’s bad for business ... It’s bad for Baylor’s brand, bad for admission, bad for tuition revenue. And obviously you know Baylor is heavily reliant—it does not have a large endowment, so it’s heavily reliant on tuition revenue. So if there’s a dip in admissions, a dip in tuition revenue, that severely affects the university.”


There are other notable details sprinkled throughout the filing, which are attributed to McCaw’s deposition. It says that McCaw had a lawyer paid for by Baylor. While McCaw started at Baylor in 2003, he said he didn’t get any Title IX training until 2014. McCaw also is quoted as saying that Baylor previously had a report done in 2014 to see if it was complying with various federal laws governing campus safety and violence against women. That document, dubbed the “Margolis-Healy report,” is described in the motion as “scathing” and as having found “hundreds of violations of Clery, Title IX, and the Violence Against Women Act.”

Baylor issued a statement saying the lawyers for the Jane Does “have grossly mischaracterized facts to promote a misleading narrative.” The statement then goes on to say Baylor has been trying through this court process to“steadfastly protecting the privacy of our students.” In another statement, the university said that what McCaw is quoted as saying was “based on speculation, hearsay and even media reports.”


The full court document is below.

Senior editor at Deadspin