Lawmaker asks Texas Rangers to investigate Baylor sexual assault scandal

AUSTIN, Texas -- A group of Texas legislators on Monday called for a criminal investigation by the Texas Rangers, the state's top criminal investigation agency, into Baylor University's sexual assault scandal and requested state financial sanctions until an investigation is completed.

State Rep. Roland Gutierrez, a Democrat from San Antonio, introduced Texas House Resolution 664 calling for the criminal investigation Friday. In a news conference Monday with fellow state Democrat lawmakers Rep. Ana Hernandez, Rep. Carol Alvarado and Rep. Diana Arévalo, Gutierrez demanded more accountability for "the obstruction of justice that has happened at Baylor University."

"What has happened here in Waco, what happened at Baylor, is so far different from any university in the state," Gutierrez said. "We can't stop bad things from happening, but we sure as hell can demand accountability. We sure as hell can demand that people protect our children."

Gutierrez called for a "sizable reduction" in the allocation of Tuition Equalization Grants the state provides to Baylor University until "full accountability is realized and concrete measures are in place to make certain that nothing like this ever happens again at Baylor or any other university in Texas." Baylor, a private school, was allocated more than $10.4 million in TEGs in the 2016 fiscal year.

Gutierrez also asked Abbott that at least $5 million be allocated from the Department of Public Safety in order to carry out a comprehensive Texas Rangers investigation. Gutierrez said he plans to speak with the governor's office and with DPS director Steven McCraw soon regarding his requests.

A Baylor spokesperson said the university continues to pledge its full cooperation with governmental and law enforcement authorities and disclosed that representatives from the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights will visit its campus this week to meet with administrators and students.

"Our hearts are heavy at the thought of anyone experiencing sexual assault within the Baylor family," the university said in a statement. "As we have said previously, any such acts are reprehensible and unacceptable. The university remains committed to eliminating all forms of sexual and gender-based harassment and discrimination within our campus community."

Baylor says it has already completed or enacted 80 of the 105 recommendations made by Pepper Hamilton, the Philadelphia law firm that conducted the independent investigation of Baylor last year. The school says it has also made "significant strides" in bolstering its Title IX efforts and its university police department.

The findings of the Pepper Hamilton investigation resulted in Baylor's board of regents firing football coach Art Briles, suspending athletic director Ian McCaw and demoting president Kenneth Starr; McCaw and Starr later resigned.