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New novel: "Violated"

   
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Book Review: Exposing rape at Baylor University amid college football's sexual assault crisis.
By Nick Infante, Clips Book Review, 8-22-17
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I THINK IT'S SAFE TO SAY that most of us prefer to read books and articles about positive and inspirational topics.

"Violated," a just-released book co-written by Paula Lavigne and Mark Schlabach, is about the sexual assault crisis on our nation's campuses.  And this is not a positive or inspirational topic.

But we owe it to ourselves and our fellow citizens (both male and female) to expose ourselves to distasteful topics, lest they lead us into oblivion.

Authors Lavigne and Schlabach focused their efforts on Baylor University, which became a poster child of universities that looked the other way when football players would ply liquor upon women and then spike drinks with knockout drugs.  And then there would be other-tan-consensual sex. 

So far this sounds like hundreds of other campuses where similar activities have taken place.

But there were several different aspects at Baylor.  [Please note: The bullet points below are brief summaries of fully developed passages on several dozens of pages in their book].
  • Baylor, a Baptist school, touted a firm (but fictitious no-alcohol, no-drugs policy.
  • As recently as 2011, there was no particular policy for football staffs to report sexual assaults or administer discipline.  Rather, their attitude was "Let's make this issue go away."
  • Many schools took in transfer players with little or no background check.  Some think that Baylor (under former coach Art Briles) led the league in that dubious category.
  • According to several Baylor sources—and from long-distance observation as well—Baylor President Ken Starr was embarrassingly unsuited for the Baylor Presidency.  His ineptness caused a general erosion of Baylor's standards.
  • Baylor was notoriously late to the game in establishing a Title IX department, and when they did it was woefully understaffed and underfunded.
 
I have often come across the phrase "investigative reporter," but I never thought much about it.  As I read through "Violated" I was struck by the gritty detail on almost every page.  I think that when one is an "investigative reporter" there's not a lot of room for one's own opinion.  The facts are the facts.  Case closed.

Lavign and Schlabach are genuine, bona fide, real-deal investigative reporters.  They deal in dates, facts, time frames, police reports, time frames, quotes, etc., with not a lot of prose.  (Just the facts, ma'am.)

Mark and Paula certainly got my attention when they described in horrible detail in the front part of the book.  Although they all kinda blur together, they described a sickening, gritty rape that occurred at an off-campus party.  I shall refrain from the details, but I will tell you that a 250-lb football player spiked a drink that pretty much immobilized the young woman.  And then he went from there.

This was a recurring them throughout the book: slip a drug in a soda can, give it to an already drunk woman, and then take advantage of the size differential.

And worse, the next day the woman remembers nothing and is too afraid or ashamed to press charges.

And always in the background (foreground really) were see-nothing, hear-nothing administrators and coaches in denial that such crimes were happening.

Indeed, this was a theme that had existed for decades, and the narrative was, "Baylor is a Baptist university.  No drinking or drugs (or sex) is allowed."  End of story.

Only when pressed to did Baylor hire a Title IX director, and then the Board of Regents made it tough for her by denying appropriate budgets and manpower.

The Board of Regents hired Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton to dig deep into their procedures (the right thing to do).  But the the Regents allowed Pepper Hamilton to release only a portion of their findings (the wrong thing to do).

Or, as our authors wrote, there at the bottom of page 287:

From all sides there was a drumbeat of dissent, of dissatisfaction, of doubt that the board of regents was telling the whole truth—that there was some deeper, darker secret about was really at fault for Baylor's failings—and it would trail from the campus to the courtroom.  And right or wrong, good or bad, it was really all about one thing.
  
Despite the rather grim passage above, there was definitely some good that came from the Pepper Hamilton investigation.  More than a dozen meaningful new action items and new procedures have been put in place.

Also good is that there are three great new leaders in place: 

Linda Livingstone, President
Mack Rhoades, AD
Matt Rhule, Head Football Coach

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I strongly recommend "Violated"to Clips readers.  It's not exactly an uplifting theme, but we all should be knowledgeable of the bad too.
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