Baylor football player sentenced to six months for sexual assault

Reuters News
|
Posted: Aug 21, 2015 1:39 PM

By Lisa Maria Garza

DALLAS (Reuters) - A Baylor University football player was sentenced by a Texas judge on Friday to six months in jail and 10 years probation for sexually assaulting a fellow student in 2013 in a case that raised questions about the school's conduct in handling the probe.

Defensive end Sam Ukwuachu, 22 and a former freshman All-American, was convicted on Thursday on charges that he sexually assaulted a Baylor women's soccer player at his Waco apartment.

The jury that convicted him initially recommended a sentence of eight years probation but State District Judge Matt Johnson increased the probation period and added the jail time. Ukwuachu was also ordered to complete 400 hours of community service.

Ukwuachu had told the jury in the central Texas city that the encounter was consensual and that he had a previous relationship with the woman.

Baylor, the world's largest Baptist University, has faced criticism for not doing enough to investigate and discipline Ukwuachu in the case that resulted in a criminal conviction.

In an opinion piece on Friday, Dallas Morning News Sharon Grigsby columnist wrote that the "sexual assault case proves football has gotten too big at Baylor."

The judge in the case deemed the school's investigation so insufficient that the defense was barred from citing it during the trial, according to Texas Monthly and other local media.

A Baylor official told the jury that the school looked into the woman's complaint but did not find enough evidence to move forward with a disciplinary hearing.

In a statement after Ukwuachu’s sentence, university President Ken Starr "called for a comprehensive internal inquiry into the circumstances associated with this case and the conduct of the offices involved," the school said.

"Acts of sexual violence contradict every value Baylor University upholds as a caring Christian community," it said in a statement.

Ukwuachu was dismissed from Boise State University for unknown reasons in 2013. He then transferred to Baylor but has never a played a game for the team.

College athletic rules made him ineligible in 2013, and Baylor suspended him for the 2014 season without giving a reason. Ukwuachu is not on the team's 2015 roster posted on the school's website.

(Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin; Editing by Susan Heavey, Bernard Orr)