Baylor and Kenneth Starr part ways

by Gregory Tomlin |

(Baylor University)Kenneth Starr at the beginning of his tenure at Baylor University in 2010. Starr was president until 2016.

WACO, Texas (Christian Examiner) – Baylor University and Judge Kenneth Starr have parted ways three years after the first in a series of explosive allegations of sexual assault on female students by student athletes surfaced on the campus of the private Baptist university.

Baylor and Starr issued a joint statement announcing Starr, who was president from 2010-2016, was "leaving his faculty status and tenure at Baylor University's Law School," effective Aug. 19.

"The mutually agreed separation comes with the greatest respect and love Judge Starr has for Baylor and with Baylor's recognition and appreciation for Judge Starr's many contributions to Baylor," the statement said.

In February, while president, Starr sent a letter to Baylor students and alumni pledging to "eliminate the scourge of sexual violence" on the campus that had been gripped by multiple incidents where Baylor football players were involved in sexual assault cases (some unreported until the first allegations surfaced).

The mutually agreed separation comes with the greatest respect and love Judge Starr has for Baylor and with Baylor's recognition and appreciation for Judge Starr's many contributions to Baylor.
- Joint Statement from Baylor, Starr

However, football players were not the only guilty parties. In at least one other incident, a woman was assaulted outside of a fraternity house during a party.

"Our hearts break for those whose lives are impacted by execrable acts of sexual violence. No one should have to endure the trauma of these terrible acts of wrongdoing. We must never lose sight of the long-term, deeply personal effects such contemptible conduct has on the lives of survivors. Let me be clear: Sexual violence emphatically has no place whatsoever at Baylor University," Starr wrote.

Starr also wrote that Baylor's Board of Regents had initiated an investigation into the school's sexual assault policies and procedures last year, aided by the law firm Pepper Hamilton. He also addressed the criticism of many who say Baylor should have been more forthcoming about the sexual assault allegations at the school. Starr said the school could not address specific cases because of federal privacy laws.

Starr was then demoted by the university's board of regents to the position of chancellor. The university also said at the time that Starr would remain a member of the university's law school faculty.

However, Starr soon resigned his position as chancellor as "a matter of conscience." He told ESPN's Outside the Lines that he "willingly accepted responsibility" for the mishandling of sexual assault allegations. To many outsiders, it seemed as if Starr was protecting the university's strengthened football program and head coach Art Briles.

Briles and the university announced plans to part ways in May, but did not officially separate until weeks later.

"The captain goes down with the ship," Starr told ESPN.

By all accounts, however, Starr landed in a life boat when he jumped from his ceremonial leadership role in the chancellor's office. No indication was given if Starr planned the departure or if the university wanted to make a clean break with the former president. 

Baylor's Aug. 19 statement wishes Starr well and contains Starr's thanks for the time he was president and chancellor. It said the judge was grateful "for this time with the exceptional students of Baylor University who will lead and serve the world."