‘She did not sleep. She suffered from nightmares, and needed a lot of counseling’, the father of an unnamed Baylor female student athlete testified in court.
This time last week most of you had probably never heard the name Sam Ukwuachu. A Baylor football transfer from Boise State that had yet to play a down for the Bears. On Monday that changed when Deadspin reported that something concerning was brewing in Waco. Sam Ukwuachu was on trial for sexual assault.
Ukwuachu Found Guilty
“What was your favorite part about the event? Was it when she was screaming no, stop?” Prosecutor Robert Moody asked Ukwuachu while on the stand.
Tommy Witherspoon of the Waco Tribune has been following the trial closely.
They were watching TV in his room and Ukwuachu started “making moves” and trying to pull her dress off, she said.
She is 5’2″. Ukwuachu is 6’4″ and outweighs her by a lot. He forcefully turned her over and took off the rest of her clothes, she said.
She said she was screaming and yelling no.
He said, “This isn’t rape,” during the assault, she testified.
After the assault, he asked if she was going to call the cops. She said no and went into the bathroom.
“All I wanted to do was gone home and pretend it didn’t happen and act like it didn’t happen,” she said.
The next day after talking to friends, she realized the severity of the incident and called police and went to the hospital for an exam.
According to reports, the alleged victim had bleeding and abrasions as shown by the rape exam.
The first witness today is Joseph Lopez, forensic scientist with the DPS lab. He is explaining he found semen from the victim’s rape test.
The next state Witness, a sexual assault nurse examiner said it is rare to find injuries in women after normal or regular sex. Less than 10 percent.
Guilty. The jury came back with the verdict around 8:00pm Thursday evening, and found Sam Ukwuachu guilty of second-degree sexual assault.
All Eyes On Baylor
With the punishment phase of the trial underway, the focus is now on Baylor. Why are we just now finding out about this? How much has Baylor known? Was Baylor aware of a separate incident involving Ukwuachu while he was at Boise State? These are all questions that need answers, and they’re just the tip of the iceberg.
Ukwuachu came to Baylor after first starting his collegiate career at Boise State where he was an All-American in 2012, his freshman year. However, by May of 2013, he was no longer on the team. Dismissed for the customary violation of team rules.
Shortly after that, Ukwuachu was getting a second chance at Baylor.
“It was a personal issue that I don’t want to go in depth with,”Ukwuachu told the Waco Tribune at the time. “But it wasn’t a big issue. A minor problem occurred and the coaches decided I needed to get a fresh start with somebody else.”
It was no minor problem though, as the Texas Monthly has since shed light on.
“In documents from May 2013 obtained by Texas Monthly, Marc Paul, the assistant athletics director at Boise State University, recounts advising to Ukwuachu’s then-girlfriend in Boise that she stay away from the house the two shared for several nights, after he put his fist through a window while drunk. Paul also makes plans for how to get police protection for the couple’s other housemate, who received threatening text messages from Ukwuachu. Handwritten notes in a document from a Boise State source also refer to times that Ukwuachu would get verbally abusive over “small irritants” like a spilled drink, and note that the woman he lived with acknowledged that she would “probably not” admit it if the abuse were physical. It ends with the words “NOT healthy relationship!” underlined.”
Just how much of Ukwuachu’s past was Baylor aware of though? According to Art Briles, not much.
“I talked with Chris Petersen [Head coach of Boise State at the time] personally. No mention of anything beyond Sam being depressed, needing to come home.”Coach Briles said via ESPN’s Max Olson. “It’s unfortunate for everybody concerned. That’s really about it. Our timeline was followed by what the standards were here.”
Players aren’t exactly booted from teams for being depressed though. Did Briles not wonder what was hiding behind the veil of the violation of unspecified team rules? According to coach Petersen, Briles knew exactly what he was getting, because he told him.
“After Sam Ukwuachu was dismissed from the Boise State football program and expressed an interest in transferring to Baylor, I initiated a call with coach Art Briles,” Petersen said in a released statement Friday afternoon (via Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com). “In that conversation, I thoroughly apprised Coach Briles of the circumstances surrounding Sam’s disciplinary record and dismissal.”
Well, it would appear that someone isn’t being entirely honest. We’ll never know who, and it’s not fair to automatically point to Briles. After all, Petersen isnt’ exactly looking like a rose if what Briles said is true, and if you’re reading this you’re probably old enough to know that life isn’t a black and white story. It’s convoluted, and everyone has their own agenda.
On some level it really doesn’t matter if Baylor was aware of his past. This is a country founded on second chances, and we shouldn’t fault those who give them out.
Fast-forward back to the present though, how are we just finding out about this now, and what did Baylor do to investigate the incident?
It took eight months to indict Ukwuachu, and then we still didn’t hear anything about if for another year. There were some questions when he didn’t play in 2014 after sitting out the 2013 season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules. Those questions were brushed off though, and the allegations of sexual assault went unnoticed until now.
In that time he continued to attend classes. Baylor didn’t even as much as adjust his schedule. A schedule where he shared classes and study sessions with the victim!
“Every time I saw him my heart would just sink, like he still had control,” she testified.
She was forced to change her schedule, and her own scholarship was reduced as the sexual assault prolonged her recovery of a knee injury. By the 2013 she was no longer at Baylor as she transferred out of the program.
The questions for Baylor don’t end there either. I’ll let the Texas Monthly pick it back up from here.
“Transparency was further muddled when Laborde filed for, and received, a gag order preventing herself, Sibley, or Ukwuachu from talking to the press. In fact, almost no one connected with the case was willing to speak on the record—multiple interview requests to Laborde, Sibley, Boise State associate athletic director Marc Paul, Baylor head coach Art Briles, Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett, and Baylor Associate Dean for Student Conduct Bethany McCraw were all declined. Even a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Texas Monthly with the Waco Police Department for documents relating to the department’s investigation and Ukwuachu’s arrest following his indictment was met with a letter declaring that all information outside of the Incident Report following Doe’s visit to Hillcrest Hospital the day after her encounter with Ukwuachu was exempt from the law requiring disclosure.
“Meanwhile, the details about the investigation conducted by Baylor that came out during the trial reveal one that was shockingly brief: It involved reading text messages, looking at a polygraph test Ukwuachu had independently commissioned—which is rarely admissible in court—and contacting Ukwuachu, Doe, and one witness on behalf of each of them. Ukwuachu’s roommate, Peni Tagive, is the primary witness in his defense. During opening statements, Sibley—Ukwuachu’s attorney—claimed that Tagive would be able to testify that he had been present at the time of the incident, and neither saw nor heard any signs of the struggle that Doe claims ensued. During her testimony, Doe stated several times that she doesn’t believe that Tagive was in the apartment, and prosecutor Robert F. Moody said in his opening statement that “We’re not going to call him, because we don’t believe he’s trustworthy.”Part of the reason Moody might not trust Tagive’s testimony is that after Tagive—a running back for the Bears—was subpoenaed, he spent two nights in jail for contempt of court after he failed to appear for his grand jury summons, and was required to wear an ankle monitor upon his release to ensure that he would appear to testify. Tagive’s statements may have been considered persuasive to Baylor in its investigation, but he clearly went to some lengths to avoid making them under oath.”
I doubt we’ve yet to see everything that will come of this.