Baylor player arrested Monday faced prior sexual assault claim

ByPaula Lavigne ESPN logo
Thursday, August 4, 2016

Baylor offensive lineman Rami Hammad -- arrested on felony stalking charges Monday -- was accused last fall of sexually assaulting a student and violating a university-issued no-contact order after confronting the woman, Outside the Lines has learned.

Hammad is facing felony stalking charges after his former girlfriend reported several instances from March to July in which he tracked her down, harassed her and twice physically assaulted her, including once at Baylor's athletic facilities on campus.

Last fall, a different woman reported to Baylor's Title IX office that she had been sexually assaulted by Hammad. After Hammad confronted the woman about why he was under investigation by the Title IX office, she requested a no-contact order from the university, according to documents reviewed by Outside the Lines. She received it, but three days later, Hammad allegedly confronted her again. She and two witnesses reported that confrontation to police, but she declined to press charges, believing the Title IX office would pursue the matter, she told Outside the Lines.

She additionally told Outside the Lines she was shocked and disappointed that Hammad was allowed to play in Baylor's game against Texas Tech a few days later and the remainder of the season. She said hearing of the felony charges from Monday was "very disheartening."

"This is all Baylor's fault," she said. "Had they taken my case slightly more seriously and put some kind of 'warning' on him, this wouldn't have happened. ... The mannerisms that she described are so similar. It's not just something I wanted to remember."

When reached by phone Wednesday, Hammad referred questions to Waco defense attorney Phil Martinez; Martinez said he had yet to meet with Hammad and could not yet comment on either allegation.

Baylor has faced widespread criticism for its handling of reports of sexual assault and violence involving football players. In late May, after the university's board of regents received a presentation from law firm Pepper Hamilton, whom it had hired to review the school's sexual assault response and Title IX practices, the regents announced the demotion of president Ken Starr to chancellor, the suspension with intent to terminate of football coach Art Briles and probation for athletic director Ian McCaw. Within weeks, McCaw resigned, Briles was fired and Starr stepped down from all leadership positions at Baylor but stayed on as a law professor. Two other athletic department officials were fired.

Last month, at Big 12 media days, Baylor coach Jim Grobe sparked outrage when he spoke about the university's recent history: "We don't have a culture of bad behavior at Baylor University. The problems that we're dealing with at Baylor and have dealt with at Baylor, to this point, are problems that are probably at every university in the country."

Grobe later said he was referring to the players on the current roster, not the former players accused of sexual assault and other acts of violence. At the time, Hammad was still on the roster.

A Baylor spokeswoman said this week that Hammad was suspended from team activities when school officials learned of his arrest on Monday. She declined to answer any questions about him. Grobe did not return a voicemail message asking whether he knew of the allegations from last fall.

The woman who reported the incidents last fall to Baylor told Outside the Lines she had met Hammad at a Baylor chapel last September. They agreed to hang out a few days later. When he picked her up, he said he had some laundry to do and drove over to his house. She said he took her into his apartment bedroom, where he forced her into a sexual act.

She said she was stunned but let him take her home. She said she didn't report the incident to the police because she didn't think what happened would mean anything to a police officer because she did not perceive what happened to be rape, and she said she was worried about the repercussions of reporting a football player. It was only when an acquaintance told her she had had a similar encounter with Hammad that she, and thatacquaintance, decided to report him to Baylor's Title IX office later thatmonth.

"I thought Title IX was like the school's version of the police," the woman told Outside the Lines.

The acquaintance told Outside the Lines she didn't want to file a separate Title IX report but wanted her assault allegation noted to support the woman. The woman who filed the report said Hammad soon began texting and calling her during a class to find out if she had reported him to the school. Later that day, while walking back to her dorm, she said she heard a car horn honking and saw Hammad get out of his car and run toward her, asking her about a notice from the Title IX office.

She said she and heracquaintancethen filed for no-contact orders through Baylor's Title IX office. The woman's order, reviewed by Outside the Lines, was issued Sept. 30, 2015.

On Oct. 2, 2015, the woman was sitting outside Baylor's student union and talking on the phone when she looked up and saw Hammad in front of her, she told Outside the Lines. "I knew he was very aware there was a no-contact order. He said, 'You know it was consensual.'" She said she didn't respond and tried to get up as Hammad started yelling at her.

Two male students behind her noticed and stood up, at which point he walked away. She said she called Baylor police, who interviewed the two witnesses. An officer told her that she could press charges. "I said: 'No, this is not what college is supposed to be. I don't want to press charges,'" she said. "I just thought Title IX would take care of it."

Outside the Lines began investigating the incident in April, requesting the Baylor police report from that incident. Baylor officials declined to release it, stating it was an education record protected under federal student privacy laws. The Texas Attorney General's office upheld Baylor's decision not to release the police report.

The woman in the no-contact incident told Outside the Lines that one of the most disappointing aspects of Baylor's handling of the allegations is that it appears Hammad was never disciplined. The day after the incident near Baylor's student union, she and friends -- including the acquaintance who also said Hammad had assaulted her, too -- went to AT&T Stadium in Arlington to watch Baylor play Texas Tech. She said they were shocked to see Hammad on the field.

"We felt we were being betrayed," she said. "It's like they were rewarding him by playing him and starting him in the game. I texted the police officer ... and said: 'Why the hell is he starting? He broke a no-contact order.'" She said the officer apologized but couldn't give her an answer because she had no involvement in those decisions.

"That's when it really hit us that Baylor wasn't doing anything at the time," the acquaintance said, noting that the no-contact order stated that violation could result in suspension or expulsion from the school.

Hammad played in all 13 games that season.

The woman said she ultimately stopped attending Baylor football games and became frustrated with the Title IX process. In late October, she declined to participate in the judicial affairs trial that had been called because of her reports, because she said it would have been too emotionally upsetting to be in close contact with Hammad. She said she was given the option to have her Title IX investigator speak on her behalf, and she agreed to that.

The only communication the woman had with Baylor after the hearing came in a Nov. 12 email from Baylor Chief Judicial Officer Bethany McCraw, the woman told Outside the Lines. The email, reviewed by Outside the Lines, stated the woman needed to start taking a certain exit from a science building to avoid coming in contact with Hammad. It also stated that if the woman needed to access any building on campus where she did not have a scheduled class, or outside of her scheduled class time, that she must email McCraw at least 24 hours ahead of time to get her approval.

"I never got a result from the trial, and now I'm being told how to exit the building as if I'm the one who's being charged?" she said. "I felt like I was being punished and treated like a criminal."

She reached out to Title IX Coordinator Patty Crawford, who was out of the office that day, "and then I emailed every single person who works for Ken Starr listed on his website, and I told them I was disgusted with Baylor."She said no one responded to the email.

She said she called the Title IX office a few days later and complained about the email from McCraw to the person who answered the phone -- whose name she did not recall -- and also asked about the trial. She said she was told, "We can't disclose what happened at the trial to you."

"At that point, I was done," the woman said. "I said: 'You've ruined my first semester of college ... Please don't contact me again. This has been the worst experience of my life.'"

A Baylor spokeswoman said in an email Thursday that any determination of a Title IX procedure is communicated to both parties, and all parties have the right to appeal. "Both parties in every case have equal rights and have access to the same investigative reports and case-related information, including the outcomes, rationale, and if applicable, sanction/s, appeal information, and appeal outcomes."