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Baylor athlete convicted of rape gets new trial: Exculpatory texts were excluded

May have affected ‘the outcome of this proceeding’

In a development that mirrors last month’s ruling against Amherst College for expelling a likely male victim of female rape, a Texas appeals court has thrown out a rape conviction against a former Baylor University football player.

Sports Illustrated reports that Sam Ukwuachu will get a new trial because – just like the Amherst case – “text messages between the [alleged] victim and a friend of hers on the night of the alleged assault were improperly excluded from evidence.”

He was convicted a year-and-a-half ago but only served two months in jail because of his appeal to the 10th Court of Appeals.

The Baylor Lariat reports that “a portion of the messages were used as evidence, but not all of the messages were admitted, which Ukwuachu’s lawyer argued would have supported his defense of consensual sex”:

“We find that because consent was the central issue in the proceeding, we cannot say that we have a fair assurance that the erroneous exclusion of the text messages did not affect the outcome of this proceeding, especially when considered with the other alleged errors in the trial of this cause,” Chief Justice Tom Gray wrote in the opinion.

 

Prosecutors say they’ll appeal the ruling to a higher court, and the alleged victim’s lawyer said the excluded text messages “had no bearing on consent” in their encounter.

MORE: Judge vindicates ‘blacked out’ student expelled for rape

 

 

Ukwuachu was initially cleared of wrongdoing by Baylor after a female soccer player accused him of rape, suggesting that it knew something about their encounter that jurors weren’t allowed to learn.

Sports Illustrated reports:

Ukwuachu’s case garnered significant media attention because it was revealed that had been dismissed from Boise State after being accused of abusing a former girlfriend. He then transferred to Baylor, where the school faced questions about its knowledge of Ukwuachu’s departure from his previous school. …

In many ways, the Ukwuachu case is what broke the dam of the ongoing Baylor sexual assault scandal. After his conviction, the school hired the Pepper Hamilton law firm to investigate the university’s handling of sexual assault allegations. The fallout led to the firing of head coach Art Briles and the ouster of several other high-ranking university officials, including athletic director Ian McCaw and chancellor Ken Starr.

In other words: Baylor’s sweeping attack on due process for accused students started because a judge failed to give an accused student due process in his criminal trial.

Read the Sports Illustrated and Lariat reports.

MORE: Baylor’s law firm calls for railroading accused men, dumping due process

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Associate Editor
Greg Piper served as associate editor of The College Fix from 2014 to 2021.