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As Baylor regent, top Austin lobbyist called drinking female students “perverted little tarts"

As a Baylor University regent, prominent Texas lobbyist Neal “Buddy” Jones described female students who he suspected of drinking alcohol at parties as “perverted little tarts."

Neal "Buddy" Jones, former Hill County prosecutor and state representative, co-founded Hillco Partners, a lobby practice in Austin. Jones served on the Baylor Board of Regents from 2003 to 2013.

*Clarification appended. 

As a Baylor University regent, prominent Texas lobbyist Neal “Buddy” Jones described female students who he suspected of drinking alcohol at parties as “perverted little tarts,” the “vilest and most despicable girls” and a “group of very bad apples,” according to emails he sent in 2009.

The emails, first reported by the Waco Tribune-Herald, were attached to a filing in one of several ongoing Title IX lawsuits against the private Baptist university.   

“It is insidious and inbred,” Jones wrote of the students’ behavior, according to emails sent to a faculty adviser.

Jones, who spent a decade as a Baylor regent, including two years as board chairman, suggested to the Baylor administrator that one of the women be expelled. The administrator seemed to disagree in her reply, noting that the student was a senior who was of legal drinking age.

The e-mails do not appear to be related to any sexual assault investigations. But former Democratic state Rep. Jim Dunnam of Waco — the lawyer for 10 women suing the school for failing to comply with Title IX, a federal statute that bans discrimination against women on campus — said the documents bolster his case. He argues Baylor used its strict code of conduct prohibiting student drinking “as a tool to discriminate against female students, not just those involving sexual assault victims.” 

On Sunday, one day after the e-mails were disclosed, Jones said he regretted sending them, noting that he is "the father of four girls."

"My comments, made almost a decade ago, were hyperbolic and too harsh," he sad. "They reflected an emotional, angry moment long ago."

Describing the e-mails as excessive, he said, "Sometimes people do stupid things. And this qualifies as one of mine."

A Baylor spokesman could not be reached for comment.

Baylor has been mired in scandal for almost two years over how it has treated victims of sexual assault, especially incidents involving football players. Regents have told reporters that 19 football players have been involved in sexual violence since 2011. A legal filing in a separate case alleges that number is even higher.

The university still faces multiple lawsuits over these cases and is under investigation by the Big 12, the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights and the Texas Rangers. An investigation commissioned by the university itself suggested that some of the female victims were blamed for what happened to them after they came forward to report assaults.

The emails shine an unflattering spotlight on one of Texas' brightest political stars: Jones, a former prosecutor and one-time state lawmaker, is the founder of Hillco Partners, one of Austin’s most influential lobbying firms. 

The emails suggest Jones believed drinking alcohol — a violation of Baylor's code of conduct — shouldn't go unpunished. In one email, he said he had attached photos of underage students at a party where alcohol was served. (The photos weren’t included in the filing).

In response, Tommye Lou Davis, associate dean of Baylor's classics department and honors college, and the students’ adviser at the time, wrote that the students in the photos were all seniors who were “celebrating at a private party after one of them got engaged.”

Jones responded to Davis: 

“I can’t believe that my main ally – my main conspirator – my main compadre – my main cohort – my partner in all our efforts has become such an apologist for the vilest and most despicable girls. I am just sick. Those perverted little tarts had better be thanking their lucky stars that my guns are all aimed at a worse group of insidious scoundrels than themselves for the time being.”

Dunnam said the emails, which do not target the 10 women he is representing, show how alcohol use is "used to justify discriminating against" female students.

"There is an attitude that alcohol consumption just in itself — even if it is legal — somehow connotes some sexual deviancy," Dunnam said. "It is just sickening and offensive to think that attitude is going on anywhere, much less a Christian university." 

Disclosure: Baylor University and Hillco Partners, LLC are corporate sponsors of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

Clarification: One quote from the e-mails has been removed from this story due to a lack of clarity about who the sentence was referencing.

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