BC-US--Baylor-Sexual Assault Investigation,1st Ld-Writethru, US
WACO, Texas (AP) — A federal judge ruled Thursday that a law firm must turn over thousands of records that lawyers believe will give a fuller accounting of how Baylor University responded to sexual assault allegations made by students.
Judge Robert Pitman said in his order that Philadelphia-based Pepper Hamilton must produce all materials related to its internal review that resulted in a 2016 summary report finding an “institutional failure at every level.”
The firm “must produce all materials” in its control that Baylor either has not produced or doesn’t possess, Pitman determined. He swept aside several objections that Pepper Hamilton had lodged, including that the federal court in Waco, home to the university, did not have jurisdiction in the matter.
Jim Dunnam, an attorney for plaintiffs who have filed federal claims against the nation’s largest Baptist university, said the records will include interviews with witnesses, emails between school administrators and other material. He said the order is a “monster step forward in revealing the truth of what happened.”
“This is the stuff that’s been hidden for three years that substantiates and gives the details behind the failures that were acknowledged by the (university) regents,” Dunnam said.
A message left for a spokesman for Pepper Hamilton was not immediately returned Thursday.
The firm’s 2016 report found the school did little to respond to sexual assault accusations involving members of its vaunted football program. Prosecutors, alumni and others have more broadly criticized the school for its response to assault allegations involving those outside the football program.