The Texas Rangers, the state’s top cops, have opened a preliminary investigation into allegations that Baylor University mishandled sexual assault cases, the Texas Department of Public Safety said Wednesday.
The development follows mounting calls for the agency to intercede in a scandal that has cast a long shadow over the private Waco Christian university and its football program.
The allegations have led to several lawsuits, prison sentences for several athletes convicted of sexual assault and the departures of Baylor President Ken Starr and head football coach Art Briles.
Baylor University pledged “full cooperation” with the investigation “as we have done with other external inquiries that are currently underway,” according to a statement.
An independent review released in 2016 found that the school consistently failed to adequately respond to reports of sexual misconduct in violation of federal law.
The Board of Regents adopted law firm Pepper Hamilton’s recommendations to address the deficiencies but the controversy was far from over.
A former student filed a lawsuit in January accusing the school of creating a culture of sexual violence in which at least 31 football players committed at least 52 acts of rape over four years.
The school expressed sympathy for the survivors and reaffirmed its commitment “to increase sexual assault awareness and prevention.”
The ongoing furor prompted several Texas legislators to file a resolution asking Texas Governor Greg Abbott to assign Texas Rangers to investigate the school.
“The Texas Rangers are working with the local prosecutor to conduct a preliminary investigation to determine if further action is warranted,” Texas DPS Public Information Officer Tom Vinger said.