Court filing: Art Briles tried to hide Baylor players' misbehavior

Text message content, contained in a court filing, shed light on Art Briles and Ian McCaw's roles in the Baylor scandal.

WACO - A new court filing on Thursday detailed allegations that former Baylor football coach Art Briles and his assistant coaches ignored sexual assaults by players, frequently interfered in disciplinary issues and actively tried to keep cases hidden from public view.

The filing is in response to a lawsuit against Baylor and several officials including interim President David Garland by former assistant athletic director Colin Shillinglaw, who said he was falsely accused of mishandling several incidents.

According to the filing, Briles and his staff "created a disciplinary black hole into which reports of misconduct such as drug use, physical assault, domestic violence, brandishing of guns, indecent exposure and academic fraud disappeared."

Shillinglaw was fired in May following the investigation made by law firm Pepper Hamilton, which the school hired to assess the handling of sexual assault complaints.

Until now, the University had only released a synopsis of the report, known as the Findings of Fact.  It painted the picture of a university's systematic failing of its victims of sexual assault.

The court filing Thursday includes details never previously released, including text messages between Briles, his staff, Shillinglaw and former Athletic Director Ian McCaw.

The messages date back to 2011 through August of 2015.

One exchange sent on April 8, 2011 between Briles and an assistant coach came after a defensive tackle was cited for illegal consumption of alcohol.  Briles sent a message that read: "Hopefully he's under radar enough they won't recognize name - did he get tickets from Baylor police or Waco? ... Just trying to keep him away from our judicial affairs folks...."

Another text on February 11, 2013 between Briles and an assistant coach describes an incident in which a female student-athlete said a football player brandished a gun at her.

Coach Briles texted: "what a fool - she reporting to authorities"  The assistant texted back: "She's acting traumatized ... Trying to talk to her calm now... Doesn't seem to want to report though."  Briles responded: "U gonna talk to [the player]." The assistant concluded: Yes sir, just did. Caught him on the way to class... Squeezed him pretty good."

According to the filing, the matter was never reported to Judicial Affairs.

On September 13, 2013, Shillinglaw sent a text to Briles about a player who got a massage and "supposedly exposed himself and asked for favors.  She [masseuse] has a lawyer but wants us to handle with discipline and counseling."

Briles first response was, "What kind of discipline... She a stripper?"  When Shillinglaw said the player made the request at a salon and spa while getting a massage, Briles wrote: "Not quite as bad."

Another text message on September 20, 2013 references Waco Police and Waco attorney Jonathan Sibley in connection with the arrest of a player for assault and threatening to kill a non-athlete. According to the filing, a football operations staff official tried to talk the victim out of pressing criminal charges.

Meanwhile, Briles texted McCaw: "Just talked to [the player] - he said Waco PD was there - said they were going to keep it quiet - Wasn't a set up deal... I'll get shill (Shillinglaw) to ck on Sibley."  McCaw replied: That would be great if they kept it quiet!"

The report, according to the summary, also found Baylor administrators actively discouraged some complainants from reporting or participating in student conduct processes and in one case constituted retaliation against a complainant for reporting sexual assault.

Briles was fired in May, and McCaw resigned.

The filing also includes detailed accounts of several sexual assault cases, including how Briles, former President and Chancellor Ken Starr and other Athletic Department officials handled the cases against Tevin Elliott, Shawn Oakman and the allegations of gang rapes.

In the case of Elliott, he was first accused of sexually assaulting a Baylor student on Halloween 2009 but his victim didn't report it for three years after four other women reported Elliott sexually assaulted them.

According to the filing, the four other sexual assaults occurred on March 19, 2011, September 28, 2011, April 1, 2012 and April 15, 2012.

An assistant coach texted Briles about the April 15th assault, according to the filing, the next day, writing Elliott "admitted he lied to us. He was with her and said when she said stop he did."  "Wow - not good - I'll call you later," Briles responded.

A later text from the assistant read: "Tevin just called and told me Waco PD took him down to swab his mouth. He also went to see a lawyer who took his case.  I would think he will be charged pretty quick." Briles responded: "Dang it."

Briles didn't notify Judicial Affairs or take any other action for ten days, according to the filing, until a Waco Tribune Herald reporter asked about Elliott's status.

The Athletics Department issued a two-paragraph statement on April 27th announcing that Elliott had been suspended indefinitely from football for an unspecified "violation of team policy."

Three days later, Elliott was arrested.  He was expelled and banned from campus on May 21st.

A jury convicted Elliott on two counts of felony sexual assault on January 23, 2014 and a judge sentenced him to the maximum 20 years inprison.

The filing also includes  a description of what happened when the former girlfriend of Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman reported to Waco Police that Oakman physically abused her.

"She also notified the football program about the alleged incident, personally delivering a copy of the Waco Police Department report to Shillinglaw, and two other people she believed to be assistant football coaches. There was no evidence that Shillinglaw or anyone in the football program shared the report with Baylor officials outside of the Athletics Department. Worse, when Pepper Hamilton questioned Shillinglaw about the incident and showed him evidence of his involvement, Shillinglaw insisted he did not recall anything about it."

Pepper Hamilton also investigated reports of multiple gang rapes.

The earliest report came in April of 2013 from a Baylor student-athlete who told her coach five football players had raped her at an off-campus party in early 2012.

The coach took the names of the accused players to McCaw who told him to go to Briles.

According to the filing, Briles said to the coach, "Those are some bad dudes.  Why was she around those guys?"  Briles told the coach the student-athlete should tell the police and prosecute.

"The victim’s coach went back to McCaw, who incorrectly told the coach it was up to the victim to take action. McCaw told the coach that if the student did not press charges there was nothing else they could do, according to the filing."  "McCaw suggested that the coach also could have the student-athlete call the Baylor General Counsel’s office – and McCaw had his assistant provide the phone number. When the coach relayed the number to the student-athlete and her mother, they declined to make the call."

Shillinglaw Lawsuit

Briles on Wednesday dropped a libel lawsuit against the school. He had filed the lawsuit in December, alleging that his reputation had been damaged by “false and inflammatory statements” made by Baylor officials and seeking more than $1 million in damages, saying they had “likely ended his profession and career.”

Briles has consistently denied knowledge of wrongdoing.

Briles dropped his lawsuit less than a week after another woman filed a Title IX lawsuit against the school, in which her attorneys allege there were 52 sexual assaults committed by "not less" than 31 players from 2011-14.

Regents Response

The Bears for Leadership Reform issued the following statement Friday afternoon asking for full transparency from the Board of Regents:

"We are shocked and appalled by the information in this court filing, and the fact that the Regents – with full knowledge of this information – reportedly paid Art Briles and others millions of dollars in severance is deeply troubling.
“This is part of a much bigger “institutional failure” – as cited in the University’s original Finding of Facts – that goes well beyond the football program to the administration and all the way up to the Board itself. The University has said that roughly 90 percent of Title IX-reported incidents from 2011-15 did not involve the football program, and Pepper Hamilton found ‘that Baylor’s efforts to implement Title IX were slow, ad hoc, and hindered by a lack of institutional support and engagement by senior leaders.’
“Full transparency – not an ongoing dribble of select information – is what the Baylor Family wants and deserves from its leadership in response to this crisis so it can have confidence that all have been held accountable and that the right changes are being made to prevent a tragedy like this from ever happening again.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

© 2017 KCEN-TV


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