Sex offender ruling on ex-Baylor DE Ukwuachu reversed

Former Baylor defensive end had his status as a sex offender reinstated by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday.Photo Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

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Former Baylor defensive end Samuel Ukwuachu’s status as a convicted sex offender was reinstated when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled on Wednesday that a lower appeals court erred last year when it overturned Ukwuachu’s conviction.

The reversal was based on text messages not allowed into evidence in his trial.

The judges’ 9-0 decision stated that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it did not allow into evidence text messages the woman sent to her friend while she and Ukwuachu were traveling to his apartment on the night of the reported assault.

In a concurring opinion, judges wrote the exclusion of the messages was “harmless” to Ukwuachu’s case.

In March 2017, Waco’s 10th Court of Appeals ruled to overturn Ukwuachu’s conviction and give him a new trial. The three-judge panel determined that the trial court should have allowed into evidence the series of text messages between the woman and a friend of hers sent immediately before the reported assault in October 2013.

They wrote that the text messages concerned past sexual behavior between the woman and Ukwuachu, which he had said indicated her consent to have sex.

Ukwuachu’s conviction in August 2015 of having sexually assaulted a female Baylor soccer player was the starting point for a series of public revelations about sexual violence at Baylor.

Ukwuachu was sentenced to 180 days in jail, 10 years of felony probation and 400 hours of community service, and had to register as a sex offender.

McLennan County prosecutors appealed the decision to overturn the conviction to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which agreed in September 2017 to hear that petition.

Had the court upheld the lower court’s ruling, Ukwuachu would have been entitled to a new trial.

The woman, who lost her soccer scholarship at Baylor in the wake of the reported assault, reached a financial settlement with the school in December 2015 and transferred to another university.

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