Rape, Obstruction Of Justice & A Winning Football Team. The Rise, Then Shame, of Baylor Nation

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With spring in the Texas air, some Baylor University students were navigating the social challenges of another off-campus party, chatting and dancing while trying not to spill their drinks. Amid the swirl, a petite freshman named Jasmin Hernandez lost sight of her friends.

Then Tevin Elliott, a 20-year-old Baylor football player dating someone she knew, appeared. Earlier he had been pouring hard liquor for Ms. Hernandez and other underage students; now he was insisting that her friends had gone outside. When Ms. Hernandez expressed doubts, she said, he began pulling her by the wrist toward the door, telling her they had gone outside.

But the farther they strayed into the darkness, the more she argued that her friends were back at the party, and that they should return. Without a word, she later said in a lawsuit, the 6-foot-3, 250-pound linebacker picked up the 5-3 freshman and made his violent intentions clear.

Panicking, Ms. Hernandez told him that she was sorry if she gave him the wrong impression; that they should just go back to the house and forget this ever happened; that she was, in fact, gay. He acted as though he did not hear.

When Mr. Elliott finished raping her behind a secluded shed, an angry Ms. Hernandez used an expletive in demanding her shirt back. “He tossed it over to me,” she later recalled. “And that was the end of the interaction.”

Ms. Hernandez, who has appeared on ESPN and who spoke to The Times for this article, assumed that her rape was a horrible but isolated incident at Baylor, a private university of nearly 17,000 students that takes pride in its Baptist foundation. And she wasn’t alone in believing that: Even after Mr. Elliott was convicted and sentenced to 20 years in 2014, Baylor officials said they considered him to be a solitary bad actor preying on a campus of goodness.

As three leading members of Baylor’s Board of Regents later described their sense of him at the time: “an isolated case.”

Mr. Elliott has subsequently been accused of sexually assaulting several other women, and since the rape of Ms. Hernandez in 2012 the allegations of sexual assault by Baylor football players have multiplied, causing incalculable damage to the university’s reputation and leading to resignations and firings, including those of the president, the football coach and the athletic director.

The crisis has left alumni apoplectic, students outraged, donors turning on one another, and the Board of Regents bracing for the next blow. Lawsuits clutter the courts, with more than a dozen women, including Ms. Hernandez, claiming that they had been assaulted amid a campus culture that put them at risk.

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