Sexual assault is treated as a taboo in our society and is pushed aside even more when it involves people of influence. One group that benefits from this is college athletes. In order to protect the institution’s name and keep the athlete in the game victims are often silenced and cases are not filled.
It’s common to associate sports events with drinking, and drinking with rape. There is even a study relating Division I football, parties and sexual assault. In many cases the accused are players and it can get harder to see them as bad people when everyone is celebrating their team. Sometimes, even when a victim tries to speak up people don’t believe them because of the accused’s good reputation.
On Oct.3, after almost two years, NCAA finally completed the investigation concerning the Baylor University sexual assault scandal. The school was involved in numerous sexual and physical assaults committed by some of its students – some of whom were football players. Baylor’s football team had even bigger problems when it was disclosed that some of the university’s officials failed to take action regarding those allegations.
It was also exposed that Baylor University had an all-female student group called Baylor Bruins, who were “on call for football players to make sure that they had a good time,” and school officials also knew about this group and its activities.
“The Bruins had an official policy of no sexual contact with recruits/prospective athletes or current football players,” said one of Baylor’s attorneys.
But it was also stated by two witnesses that Richard Willis, a Baylor Board of Regents chairman from 2012-2016, said that the school’s football team was successful, in part, because it had the “the best blond-haired, blue-eyed p—-” in Texas.
In Baylor’s case, even the head coach, who was fired in 2016 after internal investigations, knew about what was happening and didn’t come forward – a testimony to how sports can be prioritized above students well-being.
The outcome of the investigation was Baylor University being charged with a “lack of institutional control” amidst the allegations. NCAA and Baylor University haven’t publicly commented on this matter since for now the case is still not closed, and sources say that “this situation should be resolved in the spring of 2019.”
This is an example of how things can get covered up, and even when unveiled, take a long time be solved. This not only discourages victims but can also make them feel like is useless to come forward and press charges.
In 2013, there was even a case of child sexual assault in which a William Jewell College football player was involved. On Feb. 2012, Blake Brown was charged with attempted deviant sexual assault. Later that year, one of the victim’s mothers filled a report against Brown because he had been trying to meet and have sex with her 13 year-old daughter. The mom said she didn’t know about the previous charges and that she was concerned how he was also Facebook friends with 33 of her daughter’s 13 year-old friends.
Initial accusations against Brown did not result in prison time, despite incriminating testimonies and digital records from several girls between the ages of 11 and 15. Yet, after violating his parole and maintaining an active facebook account after being barred from the social media site, Brown was sentenced to four years in prison.
Movements like the It’s On Us campaign have empowered students by providing more resources for victims of sexual assault. These are complemented by campus wide trainings – like that held at Jewell during the first-year orientation – to encourage victims to report.