By Jon Herskovitz
AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) – A former Baylor University football player was indicted by a grand jury on Wednesday for sexually assaulting a fellow student at the school, which has been embroiled in accusations of trying to sweep sexual assaults by its athletes under the rug.
Shawn Oakman, an All-American defensive end, is free on bond. He denies the charge and maintains his innocence, his lawyer said.
Oakman graduated in December from Baylor, the world’s largest Baptist university. He was arrested a few weeks before the National Football League draft this year and was not selected by any team.
“Shawn Oakman maintains his innocence in regard to the recent accusations and indictment made against him, and he insists that the sexual relationship in this case was consensual,” attorney Michelle Tuegel said in a telephone interview.
Police and prosecutors in the central Texas city of Waco, where Baylor is located, did not respond to requests to comment on the case.
An arrest affidavit obtained by the Waco Tribune newspaper said Oakman, 24, met the woman at a nightclub. He took her to his residence and then is suspected of forcing her into sex, the newspaper reported the affidavit as saying.
About two months ago, Kenneth Starr stepped down as university president and chancellor after being implicated in an independent report commissioned by the school for not doing enough to probe sexual assaults by athletes.
Starr, who rose to prominence for his exhaustive investigation of sex scandals surrounding then-President Bill Clinton, kept his post as a professor in Baylor’s law school. Football coach Art Briles was ousted from the school.
The investigation found actions by Baylor administrators directly discouraged students from reporting sexual assaults. In one case, the actions included retaliating against a complainant for reporting a sexual assault.
Starr added he was unaware of what was happening but still accepted responsibility.
In March, a former student at Baylor brought a negligence lawsuit in federal court against the school, alleging it acted callously and indifferently after she was raped by a Baylor football player.
In a separate scandal, Baylor football player Sam Ukwuachu was sentenced last year to six months in jail for sexually assaulting a fellow student in 2013.
(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Peter Cooney)