Ex-coach Briles: ‘I did not cover up sex­ual vi­o­lence’

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By Suzanne Hal­libur­ton shal­libur­ton@states­man.com

For­mer Bay­lor coach Art Briles, in a state­ment is­sued Thurs­day, in­sisted he never cov­ered up al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual as­sault and said the school’s re­gents should be more trans­par­ent.

Briles wrote the state­ment in let­ter form, ad­dress­ing it to Bay­lor Na­tion.

“De­spite the in­sis­tence of cer­tain peo­ple, I can re­main si­lent no longer,” Briles wrote.

“Let me be clear. I did not cover up sex­ual vi­o­lence. I had no con­tact with any­one that claimed to be a vic­tim of sex­ual or do­mes­tic as­sault. Any­one well-versed in my work as a coach knows that I strove to pro­mote ex­cel­lence but never at the sac­ri­fice of safety for any­one. I did not ob­struct jus­tice on cam­pus or off.”

Briles was fired May 26 af­ter an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tion de­ter­mined he and the foot­ball pro­gram be­lieved it­self to be above the law when faced with al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual as­sault. Briles and the school reached a con­trac­tual set­tle­ment, be­lieved to be in ex­cess of $15 mil­lion. As part of the set­tle­ment, Briles had agreed to not talk about the al­le­ga­tions. He said Bay­lor never ex­plained why he was be­ing ter­mi­nated.

The NCAA and the fed­eral gov­ern­ment are in­ves­ti­gat­ing Bay­lor. The Texas Rangers, at the be­quest of a group of state rep­re­sen­ta­tives, also are look­ing at how Bay­lor han­dled the al­le­ga­tions.

Bay­lor of­fi­cials, even af­ter mul­ti­ple re­quests, said they would re­lease no more in­for­ma­tion about the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Then in Oc­to­ber, re­gents hired a pub­lic re­la­tions firm and some of them be­gan talk­ing to na­tional me­dia out­lets. The Wall Street Jour­nal re­ported that ac­cord­ing to re­gents, 17 women said they’d suf­fered ei­ther sex­ual or do­mes­tic as­saults in­volv­ing 19 foot­ball play­ers. There also were al­le­ga­tions of four gang rapes. How­ever, KWTX, a Waco tele­vi­sion sta­tion, quoted an un­named re­gent who said most of the al­le­ga­tions had no facts to sup­port them.

In Jan­uary, the case again made head­lines when a woman filed a fed­eral law­suit against the school say­ing she was gang raped by two foot­ball play­ers and that the team used sex to en­tice re­cruits. The woman, who was iden­ti­fied as El­iz­a­beth Doe, said she’d been a mem­ber of the foot­ball team’s host­ess pro­gram called the Bay­lor Bru­ins.

The law­suit said she was aware that 31 foot­ball play­ers had com­mit­ted 52 acts of rape be­tween 2011-14. The law­suit did not pro­vide doc­u­men­ta­tion of the rapes.

Within days, Colin Shillinglaw, a Bay­lor as­sis­tant ath­letic di­rec­tor who was ter­mi­nated with Briles last May, filed a li­bel and slan­der law­suit against sev­eral re­gents. In an­swer­ing Shillinglaw’s suit, the re­gents said: “the foot­ball pro­gram was a black hole into which re­ports of mis­con­duct such as drug use, phys­i­cal as­sault, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, bran­dish­ing of guns, in­de­cent ex­po­sure and aca­demic fraud dis­ap­peared.”

The re­sponse also in­cluded mes­sages that were sent by Briles and Shillinglaw in re­gards to some of the charges.

On Thurs­day, Briles said those texts were taken out of con­text.

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