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New Lawsuit Alleges Baylor Players Gang-Raped Women As 'Bonding Experience'

A new federal lawsuit against Baylor University accuses football players of drugging and gang-raping young women as part of a hazing or bonding ritual — and the university of failing to investigate the pervasive sexual assault.

The players often took photographs and videos as they carried out the gang rapes, the suit alleges. It was filed by "Jane Doe," who says she was raped by four to eight Baylor players in February 2012. Her Title IX suit says the school's "deliberately indifferent response" effectively denied her educational opportunities.

The suit also describes dogfighting at football parties and burglaries carried out by football players, without consequence.

The alleged assaults and other criminal activities took place during former head football coach Art Briles' tenure at the school in Waco, Texas.

Briles and former university President Ken Starr were both removed from their posts last year after a wave of sexual assault allegations against Baylor players.

The school's regents said last May they were "horrified," "shocked" and "outraged" to learn about the sexual violence that was happening on campus — and the "mishandling of reports" by the university.

The regents later described the football program under Briles as "a black hole into which reports of misconduct such as drug use, physical assault, domestic violence, brandishing of guns, indecent exposure and academic fraud disappeared."

Earlier this year, a lawsuit by "Elizabeth Doe" alleged that she had been gang-raped by Baylor players in 2014. She said at least 52 rapes and at least five gang rapes were carried out by more than 30 Baylor players.

The new lawsuit references many of the already public allegations and includes nine pages describing reports, arrests and convictions related to Baylor athletes.

Sex was part of Baylor recruiting efforts, the suit alleges: Players escorted underage recruits to strip clubs, and coaching staff "arranged for women to have sex with recruits on their official campus visits." A "hostess" program was unofficially used to promise sex to new recruits.

The suit also describes a culture of sexual assault woven into hazing rituals:

"Upon information and belief, prior to Plaintiff's arrival at Baylor, members of the Baylor football team had already developed a system of hazing their freshman recruits by having them bring or invite freshman females to house parties hosted by members of the football team. At these parties, the girls would be drugged and gang raped, or in the words of the football players, 'trains' would be run on the girls.

"The gang rapes were considered a 'bonding' experience for the football players.

"Photographs and videotapes of the semi-conscious girls would be taken during the gang rapes and circulated amongst the football players. Based upon investigation, Plaintiff has confirmed that at least one, 21-second videotape of two female Baylor students being gang raped by several Baylor football players was circulated amongst football players.

"Baylor football parties would also feature dog fighting. In at least one of the matches, a dog was seriously injured and almost died.

"Simply put, Baylor football under Briles had run wild, in more ways than one, and Baylor was doing nothing to stop it."

The lawsuit alleges that Jane Doe was carried into an apartment, raped by a series of men while she was unable to move and then subjected to "verbal abuse and public humiliation" by players.

"One football player told Plaintiff that it was consensual and that she 'wanted it,' " the suit states. "That same football player also taunted Plaintiff with claims that a Baylor football player had taken nude photographs of Plaintiff and other Baylor football players during the gang rape."

Jane Doe's mother gave an assistant football coach a list of names of people allegedly involved in the assault and asked what Baylor could do about it. According to the suit, after the players said they were "fooling around" with Jane Doe and called it "a little bit of playtime," the assistant football coach decided it was a "gray area."

The suit says Baylor officials misled Doe's family and manipulated it into not reporting the assault beyond the athletics department.

Baylor said in a statement that it "maintains its ability to present facts" in response to the allegations.

"The University's response in no way changes Baylor's position that any assault involving members of our campus community is reprehensible and inexcusable," the school said.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.
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