Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Book Review: VIOLATED, by Paula Lavigne and Mark Schlabach

"However, he would not heed her voice; and being stronger than she, he forced her and lay with her."
2 Samuel 13:14

"Me, being a Christian myself, I was just appalled at the level of violence taking place so rampantly at the institution."
- Former Baylor Title IX investigator Gabrielle Lyons (p. 194)

We attended Paula Lavigne and Mark Schlabach's talk last fall at the Texas Book Festival.  C-SPAN's website doesn't permit video embedding, but you can see our question is at the 39 minute mark here.  We recommend watching it.

Over the past couple years, American society has learned about of predatory sexual activity that's occurred in previously reputable institutions.  From media, to politics, to tech, to entertainment, to various Christian denominations, we're all a little less naive.  As these stories have come to light sports, specifically college sports, has seen  its fair share.  This is a very healthy reckoning.

Even amidst all that, Baylor stands out.

  • The Widespread Brutality -- In most "Me Too" cases, there's one or two bad actors surrounded by a network of enablers.  At Baylor, there were at least 10 to 12 bad actors, and it might have reached into the dozens,  The reason it's called gang rape is because there's a gang.
  • The Cover-ups and/or GROTESQUE incompetence -- In a best case scenario, Baylor's coaching staff and athletic department ran interference with local law enforcement over violent, but non-sexual, activity.  Even if one believes that's the extent of the Baylor athletic department's deliberate misconduct, for so much additional bad behavior to have gone unnoticed represents disqualifying negligence.  Don't get us started on Ken Starr.
  • The lack of support for survivors at an allegedly "Christian" institution (What else is new?!?) -- The Bible discusses "widows and orphans" at least 100 times.
  • The Denial -- The most shocking part of the whole affair were the number of people who believed "that can't happen here" because Baylor was an allegedly "Christian" institution.  Of course it can.  Biblical sexual values are a good thing, but they need to be accompanied by a sense of reality.
  • The lack of Repentance from an allegedly "Christian" institution -- The Bible talks a lot about forgiveness.  But forgiveness requires confession followed by repentance (ie. an apology).  Instead, Baylor continues to hide behind lawyers and P.R. firms.  The Pepper-Hamilton report was, at best, inadequate.
  • The World View Challenge -- Like it or not, in this case some good came from the Obama administration's Title IX policy.
  • A Personal Story -- We've never discussed it, but a chance encounter this author had in 2013 illustrates how widespread the circle of knowledge must have been.
It's icky.  But it's real.  Read on.


The first half of the book tells the story of four players: Tevin Elliot, Sam Ukwachu, Tre'von Armstead, and Myke Chatman.  Elliot and Ukwachu have each recieved criminal convictions.  Armstead and Chatman have been indicted and are currently awaiting trial.  Armstead was arrested a second time shortly after his 2017 indictment.

Those four cases led to investigations of Baylor's football program and university culture.

It's impossible to do justice to these accounts online.  A small sample will have to suffice.  We're leaving the most gruesome parts out, but you'll get the picture.

"As Tevin led her out of the house, Jasmin asked him where they were going, and he insisted they were looking for her friends.  Jasmin became defiant and demanded he take her back in.  She tried to pull her wrist away, but Tevin wouldn't let go.  Instead he picked her up and started to carry her, cradled like a child and gripping her tight.  He kept walking away from the house, across the parking lot and street that ran along the back of the complex, and toward a grassy sloped area by a set of stairs near the clubhouse and volleyball court.


She kept her focus on Tevin. She'd said no, shouldn't that be enough? Then she clawed at him, trying to get him to let her go. She pleaded with him, thinking if she convinced him this wasn't a good idea, he would take her back: She wasn't interested in him. He was dating her friend. If he put her down now, they could go back to the party and he could find someone who was interested in him. No. No. No. No.


There was a single yellow bulb on a storage shed casting a dim light on the muddy slope where Tevin put her down. For Jasmin, that's when the reality of what was about to happen to her hit her, that despite her protests, her belief that "no means no," she was being overpowered by a six-foot-three, 250-pound football player. Instead of becoming frantic or fighting or screaming for help, she shut down. She remembered what a girl she had met at a Baylor orientation camp told her about being raped: If you stop resisting, it hurts less.

(Pages 9-10)

[Note: Emphasis in original.]

[Note II: Seriously, this is the cleaned up version.]
We'll spare you details, but several other women credibly accused Tevin Elliot of doing similar things (61-68, 104-111).

Fun fact: We learn on page 200 (three years later in the real world) that there was a separate brutal gang rape at that same party.

Once Nicole was inside Sam's apartment, she told police, he became agitated while talking with his roommate and a friend on the phone and screamed at his dog.  She became worried and and texted a couple friends to come get her.  No one responded.  Nicole told police that she resisted Sam's initial sexual advances.  She pulled down her dress as he tried to pull it up and repeatedly told him no.  But then Sam grabbed her and forced her onto her stomach, according to Nicole, pushing her head against the wall.  "He was using all of his strength to pull up my dress and do stuff to me," Nicole would later testify to a jury.  "He had me on my stomach on the bed, and he was on top of me."  Nicole told the jury that Sam pulled up her dress, forced her legs open, and then raped her from behind.  After Sam was finished, according to Nicole, he told her, "This isn't rape."  Then he asked if she was going to call the police.

(Page 136)
Armstead and Chatman:
Emily remembered Mary heading upstairs to her bedroom, and Tre'Von following her. Emily noticed that Tre'Von moved sluggishly and had bloodshot eyes, while Myke appeared not to be imparied at all. After a while, Emily felt uncomfortable about leaving Mary upstairs alone with Tre'Von, so she went up to check on them and found the two clothed and sitting on Mary's bed. Still, she told them it was time to get out of the bedroom. Tre'Von resisted,but Myke encouraged him to leave, so Emily thought they were on their way out. She and her friends left the house -- a decision Emily would later say she regretted.


While the three were upstairs in Mary's bedroom, one of her other roommates, Caroline, came home with her boyfriend Jeff. They had been at a Christian-based event on campus as part of the Diadelosos celebration. Mary figured out later that Caroline and Jeff arrived about forty-five minutes after Emily left. Jeff and Caroline found the front door open and heard footsteps upstairs, which alarmed them. Jeff, who was a concealed-handgun owner, searched the house, at one point taking his gun and holding it behind his back. He called out for Mary, but no one responded. He heard noises, like people wrestling, coming from the bedroom Mary shared with Emily. He didn't open the door at first, thinking maybe Emily had a 'guest.'

When Jeff went downstairs to tell Caroline, the two heard a "big bang" and "slap" sound, and they clearly heard Mary loudly say, "NO." To Jeff, the sound was like a body being thrown to the floor or a piece of furniture being overturned. He told Caroline, "I don't think everything is okay." He headed back upstairs and knocked on the door, asking if Mary was all right, and he received a response from a male voice that everything was fine. The door had opened and Jeff saw what he described as a very large, shirtless man -- whom they later identified as Tre'Von -- standing in the doorway. The room was dark and he could barely make out another person, possibly Mary, lying on the floor with at least some of her clothes off. No, she's not okay, Jeff said, while still holding the gun behind his back. "Send her out. I want to see her downstairs."

As soon as Jeff went downstairs, Mary came running out of the bedroom. She was out of breath and shaking, her eyes were bloodshot, and it appeared she had been crying. Her clothes were on inside out. She told Jeff and Caroline that the two were leaving, and then she ran up into the bedroom. Jeff yelled upstairs, "You have ten seconds to come out of that room." Another man, shorter than the first and one they later believed to be Myke, walked downstairs. Jeff recalled him saying, "They are almost done up there," and then upon leaving the house, saying something to the effect of "That was whacked" or "That was crazy."

There's some difference in the sequence of events between what Waco police officers recorded in their report and what a longer, more detailed narrative from Baylor's Title IX office revealed. But at some point after Mary went back upstairs, Jeff and Caroline heard a large bang and what they described as "fist-hitting noises" and Mary saying, "No, no, please stop." With Mary alone in the room with Tre'Von, Jeff ran back upstairs, demanding that he leave or he was calling the police. Mary came running downstairs, collapsed at the base of the steps, and said "I told them to leave but they wouldn't." The Waco police report indicates Jeff then carried Mary to the garage, where he told Caroline to wait with her. Baylor's Title IX report says Jeff gave Caroline his gun, telling her to take Mary into the garage and hide and call 911. Either way, after the women were in the garage, Jeff recalled Tre'Von coming down the stairs acting "big and tough" and trying to stare him down as he left the house.

(Pages 117 - 119)
These are only the incidents over which criminal charges were filed; there were countless others.

Eventually (two years later in real time), we learn that gang rapes really did happen (199 - 207).  Another year after that, we learn that gang rapes were considered a bonding experience among the team (295).  It's even alleged that recruiting women for gang rapes was considered part of the freshman hazing (295).

We'll spare the gruesome details from those incidents, except for one: The only reason we don't know the total number of bad actors is because it's difficult to tell how many football players "went once" as opposed to taking "multiple turns." (204)

From the index:


Which bring us to the subject of cover-ups, and their sister issue, grotesque incompetence.

In many cases, it's difficult to establish who knew what at exactly what time.  Facts are in dispute.  But even if you take the "I didn't know(s)" at face value, in most cases they should have known.

That being said, a few undisputed FACTS:
  • Art Briles acknowledged in a text message that he knew about Tevin Elliot raping Jasmin Hernandez two days after it happened. (24)
  • Former Athletic Director Ian McCaw acknowledged to a woman who had been raped by Tevin Elliot that "you're the sixth girl to come in and tell me this." (67)
  • Briles and McCaw frequently ran interference with Waco PD and the McClennan County DA over non-sexual violent activity. (244)
  • According to a text message, in response to one of these non-sexual incidents, McCaw told Briles "That would be great if they kept it quiet." (253)
Beyond that, it's difficult to establish facts.  Personally, we believe that where there's smoke, there's fire.  We smell an awful lot of smoke.

Briles during the Board of Regents investigation:
When Briles came in, he seemed nervous.  He apologized for what happened.  He said he delegated down when it came to rules and punishment and he knew he shouldn't have.  He said he set up a system where he was the last to know about players' off field problems when he should have been the first to know.  He said the football team's system for discipline was in house, not open house. [Note: WTF does that even mean?!?]  At one point, he started to cry.  He promised to do better.  But there was something about Briles's response, unlike McCaw's, that didn't sit right with some regents.  When Briles was asked what he would do to change things, he responded, "Tell me what you want me to do, and I'll do it."  He admitted his failings, but didn't provide a solution, other than promising to do better next time, the regents told us.  One compared that comment to coaches saying after a bad game, "Next time we're going to pass the ball, we're going to run the ball, we're going to score some points."  "I don't think that he really got it," one regent said.  (256)
Negligent at best.

This 2016 quote from Briles is choice:
The way the chain of command usually works is that the head coach is last to know.  Head coaches are sometimes protected, in certain instances, from minor issues.  Now, major issues I was always made aware of.... (301)
As for Ken Starr: At best, he was out to lunch (50-54), and remained clueless long after he should have been clued in (259).

As to the ongoing Briles/McCaw/Starr assertion that the Football team was  "scapegoated": We'll address it in more detail later, but those claims would ring less hollow if any of those three were contrite about their own actions.

And don't get us started on that prick "Vice President for Operations" Reagan Ramsower, who routinely ran interference during investigations (18 different page citations in the index).


As to lack of institutional support for survivors, one detail stands out: Baylor police cited women reporting rapes for alcohol violations (2).  The Judicial Affairs office did something similar (179).  So did Waco PD.

You can't stop bad things from happening.  At least, you can't all the time.  Once something bad occurs, however, the community must to help the survivor rebound.

This is where Baylor's true failures emerge.

A few examples:
  • Jasmin Hernandez got a hospital bill for her rape kit. (15)
  • Baylor to Jasmin Hernandez' mother: "Even if a plane fell on your daughter, there's nothing we can do to help her." (21)
  • No one at Baylor reached out to Jasmine. (23)
  • "One woman, upon reporting her rape to campus medical staff, received only an external stomach evaluation." (41)
  • Baylor PD didn't report a single sexual assault to the McClennan County DA between 2002 and at least 2011. (81)
  • Gaslighting witness reports (120).
  • The university cut off counseling to survivors. (180 ?!?)
  • We don't have the page citations handy, but on multiple occasions they either threatened to pull, or pulled, scholarships from rape survivors whose grades had dropped.
  • They also failed to accommodate survivors who had to routinely see their assailants in class or elsewhere on campus. (262)
  • In one case, not involving a football player, they asked the survivor if it would be ok for her assailant to work on campus during the investigation.
These are just a few examples, and these are just the ones we know about.


Next, the denial:
Baylor was in such denial that students drank, and [Baylor leaders] did not like things that were against their mission so they were just in denial about it," the former female student said. "The more you ignore it and the more you pretend it doesn't happen the more people think they can get away with things.

Patty Crawford, Baylor's former Title IX coordinator, who would leave the university in the wake of the scandal that would break months later, described what she saw as the university's pervasive silence on controversial issues.

"Baylor administrators were mainly older [Baptists] who had historically not discussed or openly chose to listen to the real issues at Baylor, including drugs, alcohol, and sex, not to mention any violence related to these three factors," she said. "To sum it up, the Baylor way was to look the other way until the media may expose something and then have a PR firm write a statement asking for prayers and deny knowledge of such cases." (179)
The book cites other examples we won't detail, but the pattern is apparent: Because the university's "Baptist values" discouraged certain activities, its bureaucracy wasn't prepared for issues that might arise from those activities.

Biblical sexual values are a good thing.  But they need to operate within reality.  Bad things will inevitably happen (fallen, sinful, world and whatnot).  When those bad things happen, that's a time for GRACE.

In chapter 8 of John, Jesus spends one verse not condoning the woman's sin.  He spends 57 verses rebuking the mean-spirited religious people.  And, furthermore, that woman hadn't been raped.


Flowing naturally from the denial is the lack of repentance.

The Bible states what a believer is supposed to do following something wrong:
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9
Instead of confession, Baylor gave us the Pepper-Hamilton report.  We suppose that it's better than nothing.  But to call the Pepper-Hamilton report "lacking" would put it very politely.

Reagan Ramsower, Spring 2016:
[T]he possibility of a “mea culpa moment” was off the table. The reason: “The lawyers are pushing back on it for legal-liability reasons and loss of insurance coverage.”
Instead of falling on their face and repenting of their sins before almighty God, "Baptist" Baylor University hid behind lawyers.


As you read the book, one conclusion becomes apparent: Patty Crawford is a friggin' hero.

Crawford is the former Baylor Title IX coordinator quoted above.  She's the only reason why any of this saw the light of day.  She claims Reagan Rawsower told her, "some people might say that we would not be in the mess we're in if you hadn't been doing your job so well." (280)

But the only reason Crawford had leverage over the rest of the Baylor administration was because of the Obama-era Title IX rules.  (172; 188-198)

That being said, the section on national trends on campus assault and Title IX (26-42) were the weakest part of the book.  The authors uncritically pass-along the discredited "one-in-five" statistic.  They also uncritically report several other questionable pieces of conventional wisdom.

But none of that changes the fact that the Obama era Title IX rules were the only reason Patty Crawford was able to do her job.

We're still not a fan of Obama era Title IX.  We still think it yielded a hot mess of unintended consequences.  But we must admit, at least at Baylor, some good came out of them.

Talk about a curveball....


So, what was the relationship between the problems in the Football program and the rest of the university?!?

According to Patty Crawford:
Crawford said football player cases comprised about 10 percent of her work.  That's a small percentage, but it's still an overrepresentation when you consider that male student athletes make up about 4 percent of the undergraduate male population at Baylor.  Crawford found that even though football player cases were in the minority, they stood out -- and not only because they received more attention from administrators and media.

"The cases that I've adjudicated have been terribly violent related to Football players," she said. "From that 2012 time period, it was a real culture of gang rape. I never heard of such terribly explicit allegations. (295)
In other words, with all due respect to Art Briles and Ian McCaw, nobody's "scapegoating" them.

See what we said above about, at best, grotesque incompetence.

That being said, this author has anecdotally heard similar stories to the fraternity incidents listed in the book (303).  But the chosen extra-cirricular activities of an assailant doesn't excuse the lack of support listed above.  And it CERTAINLY doesn't excuse the denial.


Finally, we'll close with a personal story.

Five years ago, in either late October or early November 2013, this author was at a happy hour in Austin.  We don't remember the exact date or occasion.  We do remember that it was at the Little Woodrow's on West 6th.

During the event, we ended up talking with a group of strangers.  It was a mostly male group with one female.  Lighthearted bar talk.  Eventually, the conversation turned to Big 12 Football.

This was during the 2013 season, when Texas and Baylor were battling for the Big 12 championship.  That was the topic.  As the conversation continued, however, the young woman grew increasingly agitated.  Finally, she said it:
Whatever dude.  My roommate was RAPED by a Baylor football player.  I DO NOT GIVE A FUCK.
Then she walked off.

The rest of us we so stunned that we didn't process it.  We just kinda went about our day.  Not flattering, but true.

We cannot tell you how many times we've thought back to that conversation since.  We don't think we could've done anything.  But, given subsequent events, it's a question we've pondered many, many times.

But here's the iron-clad takeaway from that night: If rapes by Baylor football players were widespread enough that they became the subject of random happy hour talk in Austin, the people whose job it was to know must have known.

We've never seen this young woman again, but wow has she been proven right.


Bottom Line: Baylor University needs to get down on it's face and repent before almighty GOD; until that happens, none of this will go away.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.