‘Show ’em a Good Time’ as the Crux of Baylor Sexual Assault Scandal, Complaint Alleges

Mar 3, 2017

By Tarlan Chahardovali
On Jan. 27, 2017, an unnamed plaintiff filed a complaint and jury demand in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas Waco Division against Baylor University based on the allegations of a gang rape by two Baylor football players in 2013. The plaintiff, who is referred to as Elizabeth Doe in the complaint, was a Baylor student and a member of Baylor’s female hostess program, known as “The Bruins” at the time of the incident. Ms. Doe is suing the university under six legal theories.
Based on the complaint, before 2008, the Baylor University football team was one of the worst, if not the worst, program in the Big 12 conference and former football head coach Art Briles was brought to Baylor in 2008 to fix the problem. Within a few years, Coach Briles’ recruits became one of the most feared group of football players in the nation. However, Baylor’s overnight success was apparently not without a price. Baylor entered its “Golden Era” not just through its football players, who were now the celebrities and heroes of the university, but seemingly at the expense of many young women on campus.
Allegedly, at the heart of Baylor’s renewed success on the field was the coaching staff recruiting efforts known as “Show ’em a good time” policy. According to the complaint, this “policy” permitted members of the Baylor football team and the potential recruits to engage in unrestricted behaviors with no consequences. In conjunction with recruiting practices that included alcohol, illegal drugs and women, Baylor also relied heavily upon its hostess program. Supposedly some members of the Bruins were at times used to engage in sexual acts with the recruits to help secure the recruits’ commitment to Baylor.
During the past few years, allegations have been made that from 2009-2015, Baylor football players were responsible for several crimes involving violent physical assault, burglary, armed robbery, drugs, guns, and particularly, the most pervasive culture of sexual violence and abuse of women ever reported in a collegiate athletic program.
Given Baylor’s long pattern of non-compliance with Title IX in addition to alleged “Baylor Findings”—which subsist as a result of a Philadelphia law firm investigation of the university’s past treatment of sexual assaults—it seems that Baylor had both notice and control over the context of sexual harassment and violence committed by its football players. However, as the findings conclude, the athletic program created a system of discipline by untrained football staff that ignored the players’ misconduct and fueled the perception that football was above the rules.
According to the complaint, on the night of April 18, 2013 Ms. Doe attended a party where she became intoxicated. The plaintiff later found out that two football players named Tre’Von Armstead and Shamycheal Chatman accompanied her from the party back to her apartment, where they raped her. While the Waco Police department did little with the plaintiff’s case, Baylor was allegedly notified by the police that two of their football players had been reported for rape, and yet also purportedly took no action.
The plaintiff has sued Baylor under six legal theories. The first claim is discrimination under Title IX: sexually hostile culture (Violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972). The second claim is gender discrimination under Title IX due to the university’s deliberate indifference to the plaintiff’s rape. The third claim is based on the university’s negligence-sexually hostile culture. The fourth claim is incorporating negligence-failure to supervise. The fifth claim includes negligence-failure to respond to the first rape by Shamycheal Chatman since Baylor was on notice that Chatman was previously reported to have raped a student-trainer prior to the plaintiff’s assault. The plaintiff’s sixth claim for relief is based on gross negligence.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1979 is a statute that mandates any school that receives federal funding must ensure no person be “excluded from participation in, be denied the benefit of, or be subjected to discrimination.” At this moment, there are several women filing potential Title IX violation lawsuits against Baylor. The advantage of filing a Title IX lawsuit is that the plaintiffs can seek immediate relief such as injunctive relief for the violation of a particular law. Besides, Baylor can be held vicariously liable for an unlawful hostile environment created by its supervisory personnel.
The plaintiff is seeking judgment against Baylor as an award of damages in an amount to be established at trial, including payment of Ms. Doe’s expenses as a result of sexual assault, damages for deprivation of equal access to the educational benefits; damages for past, present, and future emotional and physical and mental pain and suffering; an award of pre- and post- judgment interest; an award of costs and attorney fees; and such other relief that is proper.
Tarlan Chahardovali is a doctoral student at Florida State University.


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