Judge rules Baylor must release documents

From ESPN - August 11, 2017

A federal judge in Texas ruled Friday that Baylor University must release underlying documents in its investigation into the school's handling of sexual violence that led to the ouster of president Ken Starr and firing of head football coach Art Briles last year.

The ruling came in a Title IX gender equity lawsuit filed against the school on behalf of 10 women who attended Baylor and claimed that school officials failed to properly respond to and investigate their reports of assault.

"This is another very positive step in getting all the truth and information out there," attorney Jim Dunnam said. He said the judge's ruling compels Baylor to turn over the "information and the data" that the school gave Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton, which was hired in 2015 to examine the school's response to sexual violence. "Now we can hopefully determine specifics about who did what and the specific failures."

The university is facing four other Title IX lawsuits, and disclosure of materials used in the Pepper Hamilton investigation is at issue in some of them.

In his 21-page order, U.S. District Court Judge Robert Pitman wrote that communications between Baylor and Pepper Hamilton were subject to attorney-client privilege. Such a determination would typically make them off-limits for release. However, Pitman also wrote that Baylor waived that privilege when it publicly released select details of the investigation, which it did in May 2016 when it issued a summary known as its "Findings of Fact," and in February 2017 in a regents' response to a defamation lawsuit that included specific text messages and details of interviews.

"Would it be fair to allow Baylor to protect remaining undisclosed details regarding the Pepper Hamilton investigation when it intentionally, publicly, and selectively released certain details of the investigation, including attorney-client communications?" Pitman wrote. "The Court concludes, with respect to materials covered by the attorney-client privilege, that it would not."


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