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Department of Education’s OCR closing civil rights cases at “alarming” rate

Under the leadership of new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has closed more than 1,500 civil rights complaints at U.S. colleges and universities — including dismissing more than 900 outright — in the previous two months, according to a report from Politico.

Politico reported that as of Wednesday the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights had 7,728 cases pending. It received more than 16,700 complaints in 2016 and has just over 500 full-time employees to handle them.

The bulk of the closed complaints — 915 — were dismissed outright, a 13 percent increase from the year before. Another 206 cases were closed by investigators after they said they couldn’t find sufficient evidence to support the claims, a 78 percent increase, according to the report.

Another 215 cases were closed after schools agreed to change policies to come into compliance, which is almost twice as many cases that resulted in changes during the same period last year.

OCR has closed 11 sexual violence cases during the Trump administration, including eight that were closed without findings of wrongdoing since June.

The office continues to open investigations into sexual assault at a faster rate than it closes them out. OCR opened five such probes this week alone, at Alabama A&M University, George Washington University, Stonehill College, Prairie View A&M University and the University of Vermont. The list of active sexual assault investigations has increased to 354 at 250 colleges and universities, according to Politico.

NCAA mandates sexual assault violence prevention training

NCAA coaches, student-athletes and athletics administrators are now being required to complete education each year in sexual violence prevention, according to a policy adopted by the NCAA Board of Governors on Thursday.

As part of the new policy, leaders on each NCAA campus — the school president or chancellor, athletics director and Title IX coordinator — must attest annually that coaches, athletics administrators and student-athletes were educated in sexual violence prevention.

Additionally, according to the new policy, each of the three campus officials must declare that:

  • The school’s athletics department is knowledgeable about, integrated in, and compliant with institutional policies and processes regarding sexual violence prevention and proper adjudication and resolution of acts of sexual violence.
  • The school’s policies regarding sexual violence prevention and adjudication — plus the name and contact information for the campus Title IX coordinator — are readily available in the athletics department and are distributed to student-athletes.

The names of colleges and universities that attest they have complied will be included in a report delivered each year to the Board of Governors and published on

Violated authors invited to Texas Book Festival

Violated co-authors Paula Lavigne and Mark Schlabach will appear at the prestigous Texas Book Festival in Austin on November 4-5. The Texas Book Festival began with a simple purpose: to bring authors and readers together in a celebration of literature and literacy. Founded in 1995 by Laura Bush (a former librarian and then First Lady of Texas), Mary Margaret Farabee, and a dedicated group of volunteers, the TBF set out to honor Texas authors, promote the joys of reading, and benefit the state’s public libraries. The first Festival took place in November 1996 and has grown into one of the nation’s premier annual literary events, featuring more than 275 authors of the year’s best books and drawing 50,000 book lovers of all ages. More information is available here Texas Book Festival

Lavigne to appear at Texas Tribune Festival

Violated co-author Paula Lavigne will appear at the 2017 Texas Tribune Festival in Austin on Saturday, September 23. Lavigne will participate in a panel entitled “The Right Response on Sexual Assault: What We Learned From Baylor and Where We Go From Here.” Other participants include Wanda Mercer, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the University of Texas System; Kirk Watson, Texas State Senator (D) and Baylor alumnus; J.M. Lozano, Texas State Representative (R); and Sierra Smith, a Baylor student and advocate for sexual assault survivors. Matthew Watkins, a reporter for the Texas Tribune, will moderate the panel. More information can be found here Texas Tribune Festival


Violated is the most comprehensive book about college football sexual assault to date. It exposes all of the components of a destructive, win-at-all-costs football culture that shelters predators and cultivates a destructive campus environment. The book gives an in depth, explicit view at the toll on victims when a university decides to afford protection to an elite, powerful group of students and administrators rather than its most vulnerable and injured. It is a cautionary tale about what happens when a university allows an athletic department to operate under autonomy and insulate itself from protocols, procedures, and even laws.

Violated describes in painful, gut-wrenching detail, a university who sacrificed character, its Christian values and moral decency for a run at college football greatness and the entrenched system that supported it. Violated is a must read for athletes, coaches, administrators and politicians who are committed to understanding the culture surrounding sexual assault that has led to its epidemic status and the inarguable need for Title IX guidelines. Violated literally kept me awake nights, not only reading it, but absorbing the many similarities to my own college experience at Nebraska.”

— Katherine Redmond, founder, National Coalition Against Violent Athletes

“Through a comprehensive timeline and the stories of survivors, Violated exposes our society’s ‘win at all cost’ attitude and the devastation that ensues when we value winning more than human life. The harrowing intersection of sports and violence is undeniable, and Violated gives us a look at how things can go so terribly wrong while also celebrating the heroic courage of sexual assault survivors.

“A must read for everyone, you will be disturbed and horrified by the details, but you will also be better prepared to confront a culture that dismisses, ignores and minimizes the impact of sexual violence on its victims and our campus communities. There is no other more pressing issue on our college campuses than sexual violence. There is no other crime aside from murder that is more devastating for its victims and families.  There is no other book needed more right now than Violated.”

— Brenda Tracy, sexual assault survivor & activist

“Lavinge and Schlabach have dug deep on the No. 1 scourge in college athletics. Violence against women in any form is unacceptable and yet it has been enabled (at least) by those who either don’t want to know or are actively covering up. College athletics in general has been woefully weak in addressing this issue. Thanks to Violated the game is about to change. This is not only a Baylor problem; it is a national problem brought to light by the fine reporting of the authors.”

— Dennis Dodd, Senior Reporter, CBS Sports

Violated is meticulously researched and reported by Lavigne and Schlabach. It’s a deep-sea dive into the cold, dark waters of a Baylor program undone by its indifference … and worse.”

— Gene Wojciechowski, ESPN College GameDay reporter, and author of The Last Great Game: Duke vs. Kentucky and the 2.1 Seconds That Changed Basketball 

“Authors Paula Lavigne and Mark Schlabach — who spent years reporting on Baylor for ESPN in advance of this book — meticulously lay out how exactly each of those levees failed before the entire campus was submerged by this flood.” 

— Zach Barnett,

Timeline of the Baylor sexual assault scandal

November 28, 2007: Former University of Houston coach Art Briles is hired as Baylor University’s 25th football coach.


July 24, 2008: Baylor’s board of regents fired university president John M. Lilley, saying he was unable to unite the school’s students, faculty, and administrators. David E. Garland is named interim president.


February 4, 2009: Tevin Elliott, an outside linebacker from Mount Pleasant, Texas, signs a national letter of intent with Baylor as part of its 2009 recruiting class.


October 31, 2009: Olivia*, a Baylor female student-athlete, accused Elliott of sexually assaulting her while she was passed out in her bed after a Halloween party. She never contacted police or university officials about the incident.


February 15, 2010: Pepperdine University law professor Kenneth Starr, a former U.S. Solicitor General and federal circuit judge, is named Baylor University’s 14th president. He officially took office on June 1, 2010.


March 23, 2010: Bears cornerback Antareis Bryan is arrested for physically assaulting his girlfriend. Police officers observed she had a bloody lip and red marks on her arms. Bryan played in eight games in 2010, and the criminal case was dropped after he completed a pretrial diversion program.


March 19, 2011: Leslie*, a TCU student who was visiting Waco, Texas, during spring break, told police and a sexual assault nurse that Baylor football player Tevin Elliott sexually assaulted her in the bathroom of a nightclub. Two days later, Leslie told Waco police that she didn’t want to pursue criminal charges because the incident was a “he said she said” situation and her actions might be considered “implied consent.”


April 4, 2011: The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issues the “Dear Colleague” letter to more than 7,000 colleges that receive federal money, dictating the specific procedures that colleges must use to adjudicate allegations of sexual assault by students.


September 28, 2011: Phoebe*, a McLennan County Community College student, told Waco police that Elliott inappropriately touched her and locked her in her bedroom. Waco police detective Fabian Klecka informed Baylor police detective Brent Howell about the incident.

f Washington 67-56 in the Alamo Bowl to win their first bowl game since 1992. Their 11 victories tied a school record for most wins in a single season.


March 27, 2012: Baylor football player Tevin Elliott is accused of raping Samantha*, another student-athlete, at her off-campus apartment in Waco, Texas. Four days later, she called police after Elliott blocked her car in a parking lot.


March 29, 2012: Baylor officials sanctioned Elliott and placed him on disciplinary probation for misconduct and improperly touching Phoebe during the November 2011 incident at her apartment.


April 3, 2012: The Baylor women’s basketball team defeated Notre Dame 80-61 in the NCAA tournament championship game to finish the season with a perfect 40-0 record. Junior Brittney Griner was named national player of the year.


April 15, 2012: Elliott raped Baylor student Jasmin Hernandez outside an off-campus party in Waco, Texas. Hernandez reported the incident to police and a sexual assault nurse later that morning. Jennifer*, another Baylor female student, alleged being gang raped by 10 to 15 other football players at what has been described as the same party.


April 27, 2012: Briles suspended Elliott from the Baylor football team for an “unspecified violation” of team rules. Waco police arrested Elliott three days later for sexually assaulting Hernandez.


June 6, 2012: Upon hearing news of Elliott’s arrest, Olivia reports her alleged assault from 2009 to Waco police.


July 2, 2012: Former Penn State football player Shawn Oakman transferred to Baylor, after Nittany Lions coach Bill O’Brien dismissed him from the team following an incident in which he allegedly grabbed a woman’s wrist during an altercation at an on-campus eatery.


January 10, 2013: Baylor football player Shawn Oakman’s girlfriend accused him of physically assaulting her. A police report indicated the woman told police he shoved her face into brick walls and a cabinet and clutter on her bed, hurting her lip, which an officer said was swollen. The woman didn’t want to pursue the case and no criminal charges were filed.


March 2, 2013: Baylor football player Shamycheal Chatman allegedly sexually assaulted a female student athletic trainer with the football team. No criminal charges are filed. Baylor officials outside the athletic department handle the incident internally and the female student switches to a different sport. Around the same time Chatman is kicked off the team for an unrelated marijuana violation.


April 2013: Erica*, a Baylor volleyball player told then-volleyball coach Jim Barnes that five football players had raped her at an off-campus party a year earlier. Barnes shared the players’ names with McCaw and Briles. McCaw told Barnes to tell Erica to call the university’s legal affairs office.


April 18, 2013: Baylor football players Tre’Von Armstead and Chatman allegedly sexually assault Mary*, a Baylor student and member of the Baylor Bruins recruiting hostess program, at her apartment following a party for the school’s annual Diadeloso celebration. After initially telling police that “nothing happened,” Mary reported the incident and had a sexual assault exam two days later.