Former Baylor football player Sam Ukwuachu’s sexual assault conviction from 2015 has been upheld by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
The Austin American-Statesman’s Chuck Lindel reported Wednesday the court unanimously reversed a 2017 decision by a lower appellate court, which had called for a new trial for Ukwuachu. The previous ruling said the judge in the original trial wrongly excluded important text messages between the alleged victim and a friend. However, Wednesday’s ruling said the court was right not to allow the earlier messages into evidence.
The case returns to the 10th Court of Appeals in Waco, which initially ruled Ukwuachu should receive a new trial. There the former Baylor player can raise other objections.
The messages that Ukwuachu’s attorney wanted included as evidence in the trial were from before the alleged assault in 2013. The defense argued that those messages would show the alleged victim had consented to sex. All the messages the court allowed into evidence were from after the alleged assault.
The accusation against Ukwuachu was one of many reported sexual assaults by Baylor players that eventually led to the Pepper Hamilton investigation, which found major failings in how the athletic department, and the university as a whole, handled such allegations.
Former Baylor football coach Art Briles was fired in the wake of that investigation. University president Ken Starr and athletic director Ian McCaw both later stepped down.
Art Briles claimed he was unaware of Ukwuachu’s previous legal history
Ukwuachu arrived at Baylor after earning freshman All-America honors at Boise State. But Ukwuachu’s former girlfriend at Boise State testified at his trial about a lingering pattern of abuse in their relationship.
After Ukwuachu was convicted, former Baylor coach Art Briles claimed he did not know of his past legal history at Boise State.
Briles was fired in 2016 despite leading the Bears to stunning success. The Bears claimed a Big 12 title in 2013 and a share of the title with TCU the following season.
But an independent investigation ordered by Baylor showed many missteps in how Briles and his staff handled allegations of sexual assault during his coaching tenure.
Briles has not coached since he was fired by Baylor.