Crime

Texas prosecutors: Some Boise officials ‘unhelpful’ in Ukwuachu case

Then-defensive end Samuel Ukwuachu pounds a blocking sled during drills on Boise State's first day of spring practice March 11, 2013, at Bronco Stadium in Boise
Then-defensive end Samuel Ukwuachu pounds a blocking sled during drills on Boise State's first day of spring practice March 11, 2013, at Bronco Stadium in Boise Idaho Statesman file

A pair of Texas district attorneys seeking documents to prosecute former Boise State University football player Sam Ukwuachu on sexual assault charges had a mixed experience in working with authorities in Idaho, according to a recent article published online.

They praised the assistance they received from the Ada County prosecutor and Boise city attorney while questioning why Boise police had been so “unhelpful.”

The article was published in the July-August issue of the Texas District & County Attorneys Association’s journal, The Texas Prosecutor. It was written by assistant criminal district attorneys Hilary LaBorde and Robbie Moody.

In August last year, a Texas jury found Ukwuachu guilty of sexually assaulting a fellow student at Baylor University in 2013. He was sentenced to six months in jail, 10 years of felony probation and 400 hours of community service.

Ukwuachu, a 2012 Freshman All-American for Boise State, transferred to Baylor after he was dismissed from BSU’s team for an undisclosed violation of team rules.

The Texas prosecutors wrote that when they reached out to university officials here, “we were informed that the school had no records of discipline problems for Ukwuachu.” But after obtaining his student records through a subpoena, they found “a wealth of information.”

Greg Hahn, spokesman for Boise State, said the university must follow strict federal guidelines on student records.

“Attorneys may be frustrated at the restrictions that the law places,” he said.

The journal article aims to provide tips to other prosecutors handling difficult cases. The criminal prosecutors elaborated on what they found:

“We learned though handwritten notes from athletic directors that the defendant had had a violent relationship with his then live-in girlfriend. His roommate, another football player, had been so scared of the defendant and his violent tendencies that he had called the police. Ukwuachu had been taken to a mental hospital more than once while a student at BSU; the school had also sent him to anger management classes to try to help him.”

During the Texas trial, Ukwuachu’s former girlfriend testified that Ukwuachu had punched her in the head and choked her while they were students at BSU, ESPN reported. She said she never told police or university officials about the abuse.

BSU officials said in a statement soon after the trial that they were unaware of any alleged abuse — and that violence against women wasn’t a factor in Ukwuachu’s dismissal from the football team. But Sports Illustrated reported last August that University of Florida coach Will Muschamp had decided to pass on picking up Ukwuachu after a BSU athletic department employee told his staff about the athlete’s troubled relationship with his girlfriend.

A Title IX inquiry into the alleged abuse of the Boise State student eventually was opened. The results of that are not subject to public record requests for privacy reasons, university officials said.

The Texas prosecutors sought records from Boise police about a specific incident in which Ukwuachu’s roommate called police. They were told that there was no record of the call for help or of the transport of Ukwuachu to a hospital. When they asked for contact information for the officers they believed were at the incident, they were referred to the Boise city attorney.

The city attorney confirmed that there were no reports or dispatch logs, but he found and emailed the recording from body microphones of the officers who were there.

“It has been difficult for us to understand why BPD was so unhelpful,” the article states. “They seemed to go to considerable lengths not to document Boise State students when it came to alcohol violations, but Ukwuachu’s conduct resulted in his mental commitment — yet there wasn’t any documentation to tell us who took him to the mental hospital. It is impossible with the information we have to speculate as to whether this was special treatment for an athlete or just for students in general.”

When asked for comment Friday, a Boise police spokesman said in an email that the department would need more than one day to look into what happened.

“In all cases we follow public record laws when releasing information,” the spokesman said.

Boise police give citations or warnings for alcohol violations, but that doesn’t usually result in a police report unless other charges are filed. They follow Clery Act requirements for reporting alcohol violations on campus, the Boise police spokesman said.

The Clery Act, signed into law in 1990, requires all universities that participate in federal financial aid programs to disclose crime on and near campus.

Katy Moeller: 208-377-6413, @KatyMoeller

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