Baylor to investigate case's handling after Sam Ukwuachu sentenced

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Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Texas judge on Friday sentenced Sam Ukwuachu to 180 days in county jail following his conviction this week for sexual assault.

Texas 54th District Court Judge Matt Johnson also gave Ukwuachu 10 years of felony probation and 400 hours of community service. Ukwuachu will have to register as a sex offender. He was taken to jail after court adjourned to begin his sentence.

A jury had recommended probation after it found Ukwuachu, 22, guilty of one count of sexual assault for an October 2013 incident in Waco, Texas, involving a former female Baylor soccer player.

Ukwuachu's attorney, Jonathan Sibley, said he considered the sentence a victory for his client.

"I think this shows who Sam is as a person," Sibley said. "We certainly were pleased that the jury chose to place him on probation."

Ukwuachu transferred toBaylorafter being dismissed by Boise State coach Chris Petersen in 2013. Boise State never gave details as to why Ukwuachu was kicked off the team.

Ukwuachu's former girlfriend testified during the trial that he had struck and choked her when he attended Boise State.

The case has brought scrutiny to Baylor campus police for their investigation of the allegations against Ukwuachu and to football coach Art Briles for allowing Ukwuachu to enroll at the Waco, Texas, school.A Baylor official testified the school investigated the woman's complaint but didn't find enough evidence "to move forward."

Briles said he not made aware of Ukwuachu's past by Petersen when accepting the transfer, but Petersen said Friday that he had informed Briles about why Ukwuachu was dismissed from the Broncos.

After the conviction, Baylor said it would conduct an investigation into the handling of sexual assault allegations by the school against Ukwuachu.

School president Ken Starr called for a "comprehensive internal inquiry into the circumstances associated with the case and the conduct of the offices involved." The review will be led by law professor Jeremy Counseller, who is a faculty athletic representative to the Big 12 and NCAA and former assistant criminal district attorney.

"After an analysis of his report, I will determine what additional action to take," Starr later said in a statement.

Ukwuachu never played for Baylor. He was ineligible in 2013 because of NCAA transfer rules and suspended in 2014, though Baylor never gave a reason for the suspension. He has been taking graduate classes at the school.

Briles has found some success at Baylor welcoming players who have had problems at other programs, most notably star defensive end Shawn Oakman, who was dismissed at Penn State for a violation of team rules and transferred to the Bears.

Sibley said Ukwuachu maintains his innocence despite the conviction.

"He says he did not do this," Sibley said. "He's maintained that throughout the trial. We still maintain that. He has the right to appeal and complain to a higher court, and we're certainly going to look at those options."

Ukwuachu had faced up to 20 years in prison.'s Max Olson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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