Appeals court upholds ex-Baylor DE Sam Ukwuachu's rape conviction

Dr. Saturday
Sam Ukwuachu transferred to Baylor from Boise State. (Jerry Larson/Waco Tribune Herald via AP, File)
Sam Ukwuachu transferred to Baylor from Boise State. (Jerry Larson/Waco Tribune Herald via AP, File)

Former Baylor defensive end Sam Ukwuachu will not receive a new trial because of text messages that were excluded from his original trial on rape charges.

A Texas appeals court ruled Wednesday that Ukwuachu’s rape conviction would stand. A lower appeals court had ruled in March 2017 that Ukwuachu’s conviction should be overturned because evidence was excluded and that he should receive a new trial.

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What the argument for overturning was

Ukwuachu was convicted in 2015 of sexually assaulting a female soccer player at Baylor in 2013. Ukwuachu’s trial was completed nearly two years after the incident because of a delay in investigating the case. The woman said Ukwuachu forced her to have sex with him at his apartment after he picked her up from her apartment.

Ukwuachu’s attorneys argued in their appeal that text messages between the victim and a friend were improperly excluded from being evidence at the initial trial. Wednesday, a unanimous ruling from the court of appeals said there was no grounds to overturn the conviction based on the exclusion of the text messages. Defense attorneys can still appeal the conviction on other grounds.

Ukwuachu transferred from Boise State

Ukwuachu never played a down from Baylor; he was sitting out the 2013 season because of NCAA transfer rules.

He was indicted in 2014 around the same time Texas Monthly published a lengthy investigation into the way the allegation against him was handled. A Baylor investigation had concluded there was no wrongdoing.

Ukwuachu’s ex-girlfriend from his time at Boise State testified at his trial about a pattern of abuse in their relationship. After Ukwuachu was convicted, then-Baylor coach Art Briles said he didn’t know of any allegations against Ukwuachu from his time at Boise State. 

Boise State also said it had no knowledge of any accusations against Ukwuachu.

Briles fired nine months after Ukwuachu’s conviction

The 2015 season ended up being Briles’ final season at Baylor. An independent investigation commissioned by Baylor found multiple missteps in the way the school and officials and administrators handled allegations of sexual assault.

More and more details about the way Baylor staff grossly mishandled sexual assault allegations came out in the months following the Pepper Hamilton report.

Briles was fired after the Pepper Hamilton report’s release in May of 2016. He hasn’t coached football since.

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

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