The King’s Pass is among the most corrosive of the many unethical rationalizations. Also known as “The Star Syndrome,” this conduct and this sensibility rots organizations, large and small, public and private. It destroys trust and undermines loyalty and performance. The rationalization, which essentially holds that the enforcement of laws, rules and policies should be withheld against the most powerful, the most popular, the most accomplished and the most productive members of an organization on the theory that they are too valuable to lose, is essentially un-American, defying the national principle that all are created equal, and that the laws apply with equal force to everyone, large and small. The King’s Pass isn’t driven by ethics, but by non-ethical considerations overcoming ethics. An organization that jettisons a star will often suffer itself. Management may be criticized, and the sports team, the institution, company, government agency—or nation— that loses its star might suffer substantially with the removal of a significant asset. Yet not insisting on accountability from a misbehaving or even corrupt “star” will have far worse consequences over time.
Sam Ukwuachu, a former freshman All-American at Boise State University before transferring to play football at Baylor University, was convicted this week of sexually assaulting a former Baylor soccer player in 2013. Jurors in Waco’s 54th State District Court found the 22-year-old Baylor defensive end guilty of one count of sexual assault, but it was the revelation of Baylor’s cover-up that ought to resonate.
Ukwuachu is a serial sexual assaulter. Ukwuachu’s former girlfriend at Boise State testified at the trial that he punched her in the head several times, choked her, physically restrained her from leaving and had a violent temper. His victim at Baylor, who is now 20 and playing soccer at another Texas university, testified that she went with him to his apartment following a Baylor homecoming party and he sexually assaulted her in the bedroom of his South Waco apartment.She screamed and yelled “no” constantly during the assault but he sexually assaulted her anyway, telling her later that she hadn’t been raped.
She disagreed, and reported the assault. The nurse who performed the rape examination saw signs of forced sexual contact.
Baylor’s investigation of the incident was perfunctory at best. Associate Dean Bethany McCraw, the Baylor dean responsible for student discipline, testified that she did not review the nurse’s report or look at Boise State disciplinary records before making her determination in the case. Yet she determined “by a preponderance of the evidence that there was not enough evidence to move forward.”
This, interestingly, is often the result when all of the relevant evidence isn’t sought or examined. The main factor in rejecting the rape allegation appears to be that Ukwuachu passed a lie detector test. Based on his testimony this seems plausible, as he may have really not believed that he was doing anything wrong, having a warped idea of what rape is to begin with. Baylor, meanwhile, had a powerful motive to find him innocent: money. He was a star football player at a Texas University with a big time football program. His victim, in contrast, was just a student. Until she transferred, she had to avoid her rapist on campus, sometimes dropping classes so that she wouldn’t be in the same room with him.
It took two years for the case to get to the district attorney’s office; until he was indicted, Baylor had cleared Ukwuachu to play in NCAA contests. Go Baylor! Keep those alumni contributions coming!
After Ukwuachu’s conviction, which could send him to prison for 20 years, Baylor released a statement that said the university is committed to “maintaining a safe and caring community”:
“Acts of sexual violence contradict every value Baylor University upholds as a caring Christian community. In recent years we have joined university efforts nationally to prevent campus violence against women and sexual assault, to actively support survivors of sexual assault with compassion and care, and to take action against perpetrators.”
(Unless, of course, they are star athletes.)
This was the King’s Pass in all of its corrupting ugliness. Here was a real rapist getting the whitewash treatment, while on other college campuses—and for all I know, Baylor too— that same “preponderance of the evidence” standard dictated by Obama’s Department of Education is being employed to punish and stigmatize male students for what they reasonably thought was consensual sex but did not receive an express “yes.” (Baylor’s star rapist, in contrast, got an express “No!”)
If you want to see The King’s Pass being championed on a grand scale, look not further than—surprise!—Hillary Clinton, though she is just the latest and most visible example in an administration that has championed that rationalization. We know that the State Department was aware from the beginning that its Secretary wasn’t using sanctioned and secure electronic communications devices. We know that the administration didn’t follow through on its policy of acquiring and archiving all e-mails from a departing executive until the House committee investigating the Benghazi fiasco asked for Clinton’s messages. We know that other, lesser State officials and employees have been punished and even prosecuted for the “mishandling” of classified information far less egregious than what Clinton did—intentionally, for her own reasons. We know that yesterday a federal judge made it clear that there was no “gray area” here: Clinton violated government policy.
And we know that Hillary and her defenders have said and keep saying that she “did nothing wrong,” because by tradition the King, or in this case the Queen, can do no wrong. The problem is those awful Republicans, who refuse to recognize her legitimacy as royalty, and thus her due immunity from law, policy, standards, and ethics —and of course accountability and consequences—that The King’s Pass bestows.
Doing this on a national scale and so visibly injects The King’s Pass into the culture of many institutions, and the nation itself. One result is that rapists go free.