WACO, Texas – Two women who reported being gang-raped by Baylor University football players have reached a settlement with the school, which has been hammered by months of criticism that it ignored or mishandled assault claims for years.
The settlement was announced Tuesday night in a joint statement by Baylor interim President David Garland and the lawyers representing the women. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
"It breaks my heart that even one student would be sexually assaulted while a part of this university. I offer my sincere apologies, both personally and on behalf of the university, that we did not do more to prevent, respond or support the care of these young women," Garland said.
The settlements were the latest development in a scandal that has rocked the nation’s largest Baptist university. An investigation by the law firm Pepper Hamilton earlier this year found that the school mishandled assault claims for years. Football coach Art Briles was fired, school President Ken Starr was demoted and eventually left, and Athletic Direct Ian McCaw resigned.
Baylor regents recently disclosed that 17 women had reported domestic violence or sexual assaults that involved 19 football players since 2011, including four gang rapes.
The school is facing several federal lawsuits by women who say the university ignored or tried to suppress their claims of sexual and physical assault. ESPN and the Waco Tribune-Herald reported that the women who settled their cases had not sued the university.
Details of the attacks on the women who settled were not disclosed, but the statement said that both reported in 2015 they had been sexually assaulted by multiple football players in 2012. One of the women also reported being physically assaulted by a football player in 2013.
Garland said the football players implicated in the assaults and the athletic department official who received a report of the physical assault are no longer at Baylor.
Baylor said that since the time of the reported assaults, it has established a full-time Title IX office to investigate and respond to claims of assault and gender discrimination, revamped school policies and adopted a prevention and education program for students, faculty and staff.
"We commend Baylor for its work with Pepper Hamilton in its effort to improve its handling of sexual assault reports," said John Clune and Chris Ford, the Boulder, Colorado attorneys representing the women who settled with Baylor.