The Ken Starr (yes, that Ken Starr) image rehabilitation tour has begun, with Starr joining the calls for transparency from Baylor’s Board of Regents. He’s urging the regents to release the full Pepper Hamilton report into how Baylor created a culture so blind that administrators believed rape “doesn’t happen here” and so toxic that women who reported they were assaulted were put through hell. Starr’s even gone so far as to say he resigned as chancellor so he could speak more freely about what happened at the university.
Reporters have previously been letting Starr stick to his talking points, regardless of the fact that many of them don’t match the facts. But during her sit-down interview with Starr, Julie Hays at KWTX confronted him about an email previously used in reporting by ESPN’s Outside the Lines. The email is from a woman who said she was raped by former Baylor football player Tevin Elliott, who was sentenced to up to 20 years in prison for a separate sexual assault. The subject line is “I Was Raped at Baylor,” and the list of people it was sent to includes Starr. During the report, images of the email scroll across the screen before cutting back to Starr.
Hays: “What about the victim that came forward saying that she had personally sent you an email and Art Briles an email saying in the subject line that she was raped at Baylor. Did you ever see that email?”
Starr: “I honestly may have. I’m not denying that I saw it.”
This is one of three answers Starr will give to that question.
The interview continues but longtime GOP fixer Merrie Spaeth (who previously coached Starr before his testimony in support of impeaching Bill Clinton) starts taking action off-camera. In the package, Hays says that’s when Spaeth told her news director that they couldn’t use that part of the interview. The news director refuses, so Spaeth interrupts, saying she needs to talk to Starr. This comes at about 1:34 in the video, and I suggest watching it to see just how adamant Spaeth is about halting the interview.
Spaeth and Starr walk away, then return with Spaeth telling the reporter to ask Starr the question again. Hays does. This time Starr gives answer No. 2.
Starr: “All I’m going to say is I honestly have no recollection of that.”
Go to minute 2:23 of the video to watch him give this answer because, in that moment, you can see him turning to Spaeth for help. He even asks her out loud, “Is that OK?”
Later Starr gives answer No. 3 (at the 2:33 mark of the video). He’s even more emphatic this time:
Starr: “I honestly have no recollection of seeing such an email and I believe that I would remember seeing such an email. The president of a university gets lots of emails. I don’t even see a lot of the emails that come into the office of the president. I have no recollection. None.”
There are real questions about what the Board of Regents knew and when they knew it, and the 13-page investigation summary that’s been released gives zero detail on anything meaningful. But for Starr, joining the chorus calling for transparency is a convenient distraction from Starr’s own fall from grace and the questions about his role in what happened. Starr might be talking, but he isn’t saying anything students and alumni didn’t already know. The Board of Regents is full of shit. Ken Starr is full of shit. And the women who say they were raped at Baylor still are waiting for answers.