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Baylor University denies Ken Starr has been fired

By Martin Smith
Ken Starr is still president and chancellor of Baylor despite mounting criticism of the way the university responded to rape allegations. Photo by Molly Riley/UPI
Ken Starr is still president and chancellor of Baylor despite mounting criticism of the way the university responded to rape allegations. Photo by Molly Riley/UPI | License Photo

WACO, Texas, May 25 (UPI) -- Baylor University has denied reports that Ken Starr has been fired from his position as president and chancellor of the Waco, Texas, school.

The embattled former U.S. solicitor general under George H.W. Bush stays in his position for now.

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Starr has been under mounting pressure to step down amid scathing criticism over the way Baylor handled allegations of sexual assault, including several against football players.

But the university insisted Tuesday that its governing board was still considering the results of an internal investigation into the matter.

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"Ken Starr is president and chancellor of Baylor University," Baylor spokeswoman Lori Fogleman told the Associated Press.

"The Baylor Board of Regents continues its work to review the findings of the Pepper Hamilton investigation, and we anticipate further communication will come after the board completes its deliberations," she said in a statement.

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"We will not respond to rumors, speculation or reports based on unnamed sources, but when official news is available, the university will provide it. We expect an announcement by June 3."

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Outgoing board of regents Chairman Richard Willis confirmed that Starr was still the president Tuesday, but declined to elaborate on his future.

Starr, 69, has been the president of Baylor since 2010. A former Federal Court of Appeals judge, he famously led the investigation into the death of deputy White House counsel Vince Foster and the Whitewater real estate investments of Bill Clinton. He penned the 1998 Starr Report, which alleged that Bill Clinton had lied about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.

For months, Baylor has been under fire for its handling of alleged rape cases, especially those involving athletes.

Starr and football coach Art Briles have faced sharp criticism that Baylor ignored allegations of assaults by players, two of whom were later convicted of sexual assault. It was unclear whether the regents were considering any action against Briles and the school's statement did not mention the coach.

The university hired a law firm in 2015 to conduct a review of its response to sexual assaults. This review has yet to be completed.

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According to federal law, schools are required to address allegations of sexual assault immediately. But ESPN's Outside the Lines investigative program found apparent violations of Title IX federal law when the school failed to look into allegations of sexual violence. It also claims that the university failed to comply with a federal law requiring schools to hire a full-time Title IX coordinator until 2014.

Outside the Lines uncovered details of alleged sexual assault, domestic violence and other violent acts not reported in the media, and that many of the football players allegedly involved were not subject to disciplinary action or held out of games.

In one instance, three football players were charged at an off-campus event, but Baylor and Waco police took steps to shield the report from the public. Another case remained open for four years, with police concluding that the victim had made various other allegations in the past, and questioned her credibility.

Former defensive end Tevin Elliott was found guilty of one sexual assault after being a suspect in four similar cases and one attempted assault from 2009 to 2012. In 2013, former defensive end Sam Ukwuachu was found guilty of sexually assaulting a Baylor soccer player.

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In April, former defensive end Shawn Oakman was charged with sexual assault of a Baylor graduate student after being investigated in a 2013 case for assaulting his former girlfriend. Also last month, Baylor players Tre'Von Armstead and Shamycheal Chatman were named as suspects in a sexual assault that took place more than two years ago but never were charged.

One female student told Outside the Lines that she did not proceed with charges because she doubted the school would act to punish the player allegedly involved.

"I'd seen other girls go through it and nothing ever happened to the football players," she said. "It's mind-boggling to see it continue to happen. I can't understand why. I think as long as they're catching footballs and scoring touchdowns, the school won't do anything."

Other former Baylor students have spoken to the Waco Tribune-Herald about how the university mishandled their complaints, including one who claimed a Baylor police officer blamed her for being raped.

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