Face of a revolution


Violated: Exposing Rape at Baylor University amid College Football’s Sexual Assault Crisis by Paula Lavigne, Mark Schlabach, Center Street (Hachette Book Group), US $27.00, Pp 368, August 2017, ISBN  978-1478974086

Baylor freshman Jasmine was one of five women who reported to police that they were either raped or assaulted by football player Tevin Elliott in incidents from October 2009 to April 2012. In August 2015, a jury convicted Sam Ukwuachu of sexual assault (his conviction was later overturned by an appellate court, which ordered a new criminal trial), in 2016, a woman accused Bears defensive end Shawn Oakman of raping her. Throughout the spring of 2016, details emerged of other cases of sexual assaults — some years ago — where women came forth with stories of rape or domestic violence, often naming Baylor football players as their alleged perpetrators.

In Violated, Paula Lavigne and Mark Schlabach say, as the scandals played out on TV, radio, and online, on message boards and social media, the thirty-two voting members of Baylor’s board of regents broke their silence in May 2016. The findings were damning and worse than they could have imagined, they found not just ignorance, but the willful intent in trying to silence the victims of rape. They found university officials retaliated against victims and ignored survivors’ needs for counseling, academic support, and justice. They found a problem that went beyond their beloved football program.

Briles was suspended with the intent to terminate. Briles had guided the Bearsto at least a share of its first two Big 12 championships and was rewarded with more than 5 million per season. Starr was a former federal judge and independent counselor who investigated former President Clinton’s infamous affair with Lewinsky, was removed as president but allowed to stay as chancellor. Athletic Director Ian McCaw was sanctioned and put on probation. Within weeks, they all either resigned or were fired. Lavigne and Schlabach say that, finally, there was an acknowledgment of wrongdoing and penance. It gave women of Baylor something denied their peers at other universities — accountability.

“But it was not over for Baylor. Within a year, it would end up defending seven federal Title IX lawsuits with one dismissed in late May 2017, facing two US Department of Education investigations, and an inquiry by the NCAA. The Big Twelve conference voted to withhold a portion of Baylor’s share of millions of dollars in revenues until it was convinced actual changed were being made. Lavigne and Schlabach say the struggle and fight of the women like Jasmine have been out there before, but never had the struggle, the fight, and the victory. And that is a game changer, not just for her and the other women at Baylor, but for all the Jasmines at all the schools on all the campuses across America. If they can win at a minefield like Baylor, they can win anywhere. Jasmine is still in southern California. But she is no longer a face in the shadows. She is the face of a revolution.

Violated is an inspiring story of a woman who refused to remain silent and decided to openly tell the world that she had been raped by football player Tevin Elliott. That had a domino effect and several other women broke their silence and spoke up about football player Tevin Elliott as well as other sports icons. It is also an indictment of our social system which victims of rape are named and shamed. Violated inspires and encourages you to speak up against injustice. The moral of this true story is that speaking against injustice is the best way to get justice. This is a book every American must read to understand our social and legal system.