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Baylor Rape Controversy More Evidence Colleges Unequipped to Decide Sexual Assault Cases

By September 14, 2015

Baylor University’s decision not to punish football player Sam Ukwuachu, who was later convicted of rape in a criminal proceeding using the customary “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of proof, gives us a chance to reiterate FIRE’s position that police and actual courts of law—not campus administrators—should be investigating and adjudicating these serious crimes.

Despite the fact that it would use only a low, “preponderance of the evidence” standard to determine his guilt, Baylor said it still didn’t have enough evidence to pursue charges against Ukwuachu, who was accused of rape by a fellow student athlete.

Reports on what Baylor knew about Ukwuachu include facts relayed in an in-depth Texas Monthly feature. The report paints a picture of administrators who, at best, failed to investigate readily available information regarding the assault and Ukwuachu’s allegedly violent past at his former school. At worst, they suggest the administration purposely ignored evidence it knew would render Ukwuachu ineligible to take the field at the university’s new $266 million stadium.

Baylor’s failure to find Ukwuachu responsible for the assault of a freshman on the women’s soccer team might seem surprising, given the low standard of proof universities must now use to adjudicate allegations of sexual misconduct. To find Ukwuachu guilty, Baylor needed only believe he was more likely guilty than not—in other words, that there was a 50.01 percent likelihood of guilt. By contrast, a criminal court using much of the same available evidence later convicted Ukwuachu, finding him guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt,” correlating to 98 or 99 percent certainty of guilt.

It’s difficult to say whether Baylor’s investigation fell flat because of a purposeful, football-fueled cover-up, or because Baylor administrators are unfit to investigate sex crimes. Either way, the fact that the police—equipped with the training, resources, and public oversight that form the cornerstone of our justice system—were able to secure a conviction suggests that professional law enforcement is far better prepared to handle allegations of sexual assault than campus administrators.

That’s why FIRE believes not only that police should be investigating these crimes for the benefit of both accused students and alleged victims, but also that schools should be required to report these crimes to authorities. Institutions of higher learning are not equipped to effectively adjudicate serious crimes.

 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that police “adjudicat[e]” crimes. Police investigate crimes, and courts adjudicate them. The Torch regrets the error.

Schools: Baylor University