Ken Starr, who rose to prominence for investigating President Bill Clinton’s sex scandal and dropped from the presidency of Baylor University for failing to address complaints of sexual violence, has died at 76.

Starr’s family announced that he died Sept. 13 at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center in Houston due to complications from surgery.

Starr was born on July 21, 1946, in Vernon, Texas, the son of a barber/Church of Christ minister.

Starr was born on July 21, 1946, in Vernon, Texas, the son of a barber/Church of Christ minister. He grew up in San Antonio before attending Harding College, a Church of Christ school. He earned an undergraduate degree from George Washington University, a master’s degree in political science from Brown University, and a law degree from Duke University.

After obtaining his law degree, Starr enjoyed a rapid rise in the legal community. He worked for Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Warren Burger. Then he joined the Los Angeles-based law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, where he impressed his colleague William French Smith, who became attorney general in the Ronald Reagan administration and took Starr to Washington with him.

Starr built on his reputation as a legal brilliance and network of connections, and in 1983, at age 37, he became the youngest person ever appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the District Circuit of Columbia. Six years later, President George H. W. Bush named him Solicitor General of the United States, the government’s top lawyer on the Supreme Court, where he was a leading candidate to be appointed as a judge in the early 1990s.

Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr offers testimony before the House Judiciary Committee November 19, 1998. Starr alleged in his testimony and report that President Clinton engaged in ‘an unlawful effort to frustrate the judicial process’ . (Photo by David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images)

In 1994, while working with the law firm Kirkland & Ellis, Starr became independent counsel for several investigations, including Whitewater, a review of then-President Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton’s real estate investments in Arkansas. . This investigation led to the conviction of the Clintons’ friend, Susan McDougal. Starr also investigated the death of Vince Foster, an assistant White House attorney, whom his team ruled a suicide, despite vehement complaints from conservative conspiracy theorists who claimed the Clintons covered up Foster’s murder.

Ultimately, the Whitewater Inquiry led to charges that Bill Clinton perjured himself in a lawsuit brought by Paula Jones, when he denied having “sex” with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Based on Starr’s investigation, the United States House of Representatives voted to impeach Clinton, but the Senate acquitted him when 10 Republicans crossed the aisle to join 45 Democrats in voting for Clinton.

The Whitewater investigation – particularly involving Bill Clinton and Lewinsky – received intense international attention, and Time The magazine named Starr its Man of the Year for 1998.

For more than a quarter century, Starr has taught constitutional law, often as an adjunct or visiting professor. He also served as Dean of Law at Pepperdine University from 2004 to 2010, when he became the 14th president of Baylor University, a Texas Baptist school in Waco.

Starr joined a deeply divided group “Baylor Family”, which he continually referred to as “Baylor Nation”. The polarizing leadership of its two most recent presidents, Robert Sloan and John Lilly, and a politicized and divisive council of regents had done little to quell the controversy over Baylor’s trajectory.

A decade earlier, Sloan and the Regents launched Baylor 2012, an ambitious plan to convert Baylor from a highly respected teaching-focused university with a strong Baptist identity into a nationally ranked Tier 1 research university with an evangelical Christian identity. The new vision drove a wedge between the historic Baylor constituency, which cherished the way the school transformed generations of students, and others who saw that vision as too small.

Starr set about trying to mend the breach by focusing on positivity and progress.

Even his detractors who met him commented on her charm and personal warmth. He seemed to revel in Baylor traditions, including joining the Baylor line – the crowd of freshmen dressed in green and gold who stormed the football field before every home game. And he traveled tirelessly, meeting alumni and other voters on both sides of the 2012 Baylor Division.

Starr also shifted Baylor’s focus to what might be possible when the family/nation worked together. He completed his first big goal — the $100 million President’s Scholarship Initiative — ahead of schedule. This infusion of student aid had been designed to allay concerns that Baylor 2012 had priced the university out of reach for its historical student base.

Other achievements on Starr’s watch at Baylor included:

  • Completion of McLane Stadium, a state-of-the-art football facility on the banks of the Brazos River, just north of campus, and highly visible to passing traffic on I-35.
  • Creation of the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences, as well as strengthened partnerships with Baylor College of Medicine and Baylor Scott & White Health.
  • Expansion of the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative in the Central Texas Technology and Research Park in Waco.
  • Construction of at least nine campus buildings or complexes, as well as renovations to three dormitories, other buildings, and campus landscaping.
  • Launch of Baylor Washington, a program that places Baylor students, faculty and alumni in the nation’s capital.
  • Development of the Baylor Bound program, which helps Texas community college students transfer to college.

Starr’s tenure at Baylor received a boost of good public relations thanks to the success of the football team. Head coach Art Briles had arrived two years earlier, and the Bears enjoyed their first winning season in 15 years in 2010. From that point on, Baylor became a Big 12 conference powerhouse, a Bowl winner. post-season and a nationally ranked competitor. Along the way, star quarterback Robert Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy, and Baylor alumni from both sides of the college division came together to shout, “Sic ’em, Bears!”

But football became Starr’s downfall at Baylor. The team gained a reputation for lax oversight. Charges of sexual assault against members of the team have surfaced and two have been convicted. This opened a Pandora’s box of allegations that Baylor failed to comply with Title IX, a regulation that prohibits sex discrimination in the education programs and operations of schools that receive federal financial assistance.

In May 2016, Baylor Regents cited a “fundamental failure” to properly address sexual assault violence complaints as the reason for impeaching Starr as president. They also fired Briles and sanctioned sporting director Ian McCaw, who quit days later.

At the time, Starr agreed in principle to remain Chancellor of Baylor, a position he had held since 2013, and to remain the Louise L. Morrison Chair of Constitutional Law at Baylor Law School. Two weeks later, Starr told ESPN he had resigned as chancellor “on a matter of conscience”. At the end of that summer, Starr also left law school.

Baylor’s statement announcing Starr’s final departure said: “With the mutually agreed separation comes the utmost respect and love that Judge Starr has for Baylor and the recognition and appreciation of Baylor for Judge Starr’s many contributions to Baylor.”

Ken Starr appeared on Fox News in 2019 to say Donald Trump’s impeachment was “a very ugly chapter in our constitutional history”.

The following year, Starr joined the Lanier law firm. In recent years, he was a frequent guest on Fox News, often defending former President Donald Trump and speaking out against Trump’s impeachment.

A Baylor statement announcing Starr’s death listed his many accomplishments and made no mention of his departure.

He quoted Baylor President Linda Livingstone: “Judge Starr was a dedicated public servant and a strong advocate for religious freedom that allows faith-based institutions such as Baylor to thrive. Ken and I served together as deans at Pepperdine University in the 2000s, and I appreciated him as a constitutional law scholar and fellow scholar who believed in the transformative power of higher education.

“Judge Starr had a deep impact on Baylor University, leading a collaborative visioning process to develop the Pro Futuris strategic vision in 2012 that set Baylor on the path to what we are today as a Christian research institution 1. Baylor University and the Baylor family extend our deepest condolences to Alice Starr and her family, and our prayers are with them as they mourn the loss of a husband, father and grandfather. May the peace and comfort of God surround them and give them strength now and in the days to come.

He will be interred alongside a long list of notable Texans, including Stephen F. Austin, Ann Richards and Tom Landry.

Starr’s wife of 52 years, Alice, survives him, as do his son, Randall P. Starr and his wife, Melina; his daughter Carolyn Doolittle and her husband, Cameron; daughter Cynthia Roemer and husband, Justin; nine grandchildren; one sister, Billie Jeayne Reynolds; and a brother, Jerry Starr.

A family-only memorial service will be held at the Antioch Community Church in Waco on Saturday, September 24. Visitation will be at Wilkirson Hatch Bailey in Waco on Friday, September 23 from 4-7 p.m.

According to the family, Starr will be buried at Texas State Cemetery in Austin. This historic cemetery has strict guidelines for admission, being restricted to current and former members of the Texas Legislature, current and former state elected officials, persons specified by governor’s proclamation or legislative action and to “persons who have made a significant contribution to history”. of Texas as specified by order of the Texas State Cemetery Committee.

There he will be interred alongside a long list of notable Texans, including Stephen F. Austin, Ann Richards and Tom Landry.

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