The McLennan County district attorney's office in Waco, Texas, has asked Baylor for full access to an investigation of the university's handling of allegations of sexual assault committed by students, including Bears football players, ESPN has learned.
Sources told ESPN that the DA's office has relayed an informal request to Baylor officials for access to the information from the Pepper Hamilton investigation. The DA's office is seeking to determine if the findings contain evidence of additional crimes by student-athletes, sources said.
Prosecutors also want to know if there is evidence of criminal conduct by Baylor coaches, faculty or staff in connection with sexual assaults by students.
Three Baylor football players have been indicted for sexual assault and crimes against women in the past four years. Former defensive end Shawn Oakman was indicted by a McLennan County grand jury on charges of second-degree felony sexual assault last month. Defensive ends Tevin Elliott and Sam Ukwuachu were convicted of sexual assault in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
On Monday, Baylor offensive lineman Rami Hammad was arrested by Baylor police on charges of felony stalking after his former girlfriend reported several instances in which he allegedly tracked her down, harassed her and twice physically assaulted her, including once at Baylor's athletic facilities on campus.
Hammad, a 21-year-old junior from Irving, Texas, is out on bond after he was arrested Monday and booked into McLennan County Jail on a third-degree felony stalking charge. He has been suspended from all team activities associated with Baylor football, pending resolution of this issue, university officials announced Tuesday.
At the center of the Baylor scandal is the Pepper Hamilton investigation. In September, after Ukwuachu was convicted of sexually assaulting a female soccer player, then-university president Kenneth Starr hired the Philadelphia law firm to investigate the way Baylor handled allegations of sexual assault involving students. Two of the law firm's partners, Gina Maisto Smith and Leslie Gomez, said they reviewed one million pieces of information -- from emails to personnel files to police reports -- and interviewed more than 65 people while investigating the university's response to allegations of sexual assault.
Smith and Gomez, both former assistant district attorneys, made an oral presentation to the Baylor board of regents after completing their inquiry in late May. Their findings were stark: The investigators reported widespread failures in the school's Title IX process and voiced concerns about the "tone and culture within Baylor's football program."
The report found evidence of staff members discouraging students from reporting sexual assault and, in one case, the investigators found that administrators retaliated against a student who had reported an assault. Actively deterring or preventing someone from reporting a crime to law enforcement can be considered a crime in and of itself.
According to multiple sources, the regents were told not to take written notes and the presentation by Smith and Gomez wasn't included in the meeting's minutes. Under the advice of legal counsel, Baylor officials wanted to eliminate any sort of paper trail, while controlling what was revealed to the public, according to sources. All that was made public was a 13-page summary of the Pepper Hamilton report. Its release set in motion the suspension and firing of Baylor football coach Art Briles, athletic director Ian McCaw's resignation and Starr stepping down from his leadership positions at the school (though he has remained on as a law professor).
Yet, a full report -- and whatever revelations it might contain -- has remained elusive.
Interim Baylor president David Garland and other key administrators insist that it doesn't even exist. Others believe a full written-out report does exist, and is probably being kept at Pepper Hamilton's office in Philadelphia.
Whatever exact form the results of the investigation have taken, though, this much is certain: Pepper Hamilton possesses all of the information its investigators found -- the who, what, where, when of numerous incidents dating back to 2012, all tracked in the volumes of notes the law firm referenced in the 13-page summary finding of fact.
According to people familiar with the investigation, Baylor officials didn't want possession of written work so they could dodge subpoena requests from victims' attorneys and law enforcement, or requests from regulators, such as the NCAA and U.S. Department of Education. (As a private institution, Baylor is not subject to state open-records laws.) But that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of people seeking a complete accounting of Pepper Hamilton's findings.
Supporters of Briles and Starr have asked Baylor to release the investigation's full findings to provide justification for why the men lost their jobs. Meanwhile, former Baylor assistant athletic director Thomas Hill, who believes he was improperly fired as a result of the Pepper Hamilton inquiry, asked a Texas court last month to order Baylor to turn over a full accounting -- or, at the very least, the attorneys' work product, including interviews, emails, phone records and recordings.
The Big 12 Conference also has asked Baylor officials for a full report twice -- to no avail.
Garland and Baylor board of regents chairman Ronald Murff have said federal student privacy laws prevent the university from releasing further details resulting from Pepper Hamilton's investigation. Other universities have undertaken similar investigations, some even done by Pepper Hamilton, and have released detailed reports while redacting students' identities. Federal student privacy laws include a specific exemption that allows release of certain information from disciplinary procedures involving crimes of violence or those of a sexual nature.
Garland said the regents did not request a written report because they did not want to waste time.
"Frankly, they [regents] didn't ask for a report," Garland told ESPN. "The reason is from what I've been told is that we wanted to find out what went wrong as quickly as possible and how to fix it."
Baylor's problems might go deeper than the Pepper Hamilton report, which investigated events dating back to 2012.
Last month, lawyers for Jasmin Hernandez, who has chosen to be publicly identified as a victim of Elliott, amended her federal Title IX lawsuit to include a reported gang rape by Baylor football players in 2011 against an unidentified female student. Hernandez's attorneys are trying to prove that Baylor officials knew of a culture of inappropriate sexual conduct by its football players long before her incident. Even with so much unresolved, Garland told ESPN he would not want to read a full report.
"For me it is absolutely not necessary to know the salacious details," Garland said. "I need to know this happened, this did not happen and here's what we need to do."
Last month, Baylor officials negotiated a financial settlement with Briles, paying him between $15 million and $20 million, according to people familiar with the settlement. The university worked quickly to pay off Briles to prevent him from testifying in pending federal Title IX lawsuits filed by sexual assault victims, the sources said. NCAA rules might prevent him from returning immediately to a college sideline, but he could coach elsewhere.
In an interview with ESPN, Garland, a professor of Christian scriptures at Baylor's George W. Truett Theological Seminary who is in his second stint as interim president, spoke glowingly of Briles.
"Art Briles is a very honorable man," Garland said, just a month after the coach was fired for overseeing a program that was found to be indifferent to accusations of rape. "He is an outstanding coach. I have the deepest respect for him."
Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery, who worked with Briles at Houston and Baylor from 2003 to '14, told ESPN on Tuesday that he expects Briles to return to coaching soon.
"The man's been a fighter his whole life," Montgomery said. "He ain't going to lay down now."
Sources familiar with the cases say Baylor could be on the hook for as much as $30 million to settle individual claims with the women suing the school. In addition to the three Title IX lawsuits that have already been filed, at least two more cases involving Baylor football players could be filed in the near future. Attorneys representing the eight women who have already filed indicated that Baylor officials are aggressively trying to settle the claims to avoid embarrassing depositions and exposure in court cases.
So far, the NCAA has not said whether it's investigating Baylor after the school announced in May that it had self-reported violations related to its sexual-assault scandal. Garland said school officials met with the NCAA regarding possible violations in May but said he hasn't heard from the NCAA since then. Sources familiar with the case say that Baylor might be disciplined by the NCAA for providing its football players with free or discounted legal services when they ran afoul of the law.
In 2013, the NCAA placed Montana's football program on three years' probation for similar violations. Any NCAA investigation could take several months -- longer if there's a criminal investigation going on at the same time and the NCAA has to wait to interview victims, witnesses and possible suspects. The NCAA could impose a bevy of penalties, including forfeiture of scholarships and a postseason ban.