Kenneth W. Star is an American lawyer best known for leading an independent investigation of the Whitewater and Monica Lewinsky scandals during President Bill Clinton’s administration.
Who Is Ken Starr?
Kenneth Winston Starr (July 21, 1946) is a lawyer, former U.S. solicitor general and federal judge, and former President of Baylor University. He is well recognized as the independent counsel who led the investigation into former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s relationship with Monica Lewinsky which ultimately resulted in Clinton’s impeachment. Starr’s 2016 ousting from his Presidential position at Baylor University due to the mishandling of multiple sexual assault allegations also garnered international attention.
In 1998, the media exploded with allegations regarding a sexual relationship between then 49-year-old President Bill Clinton and 22-year-old White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Attorney Kenneth Starr was placed in charge of the investigation into the sex scandal, but Clinton repeatedly publicly denied the allegations. Kenneth Starr’s books, The Starr Report: The Independent Counsel’s Complete Report to the Congress on the Investigation of Bill Clinton (1998) and The Starr Evidence: The Complete Text of the Grand Jury Testimony of President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky (1998) revealed salacious details about Bill Clinton’s sexual encounters with Miss Lewinsky and provided compelling evidence to support perjury charges. Details about the semen-stained dress, tapes of telephone conversations, and grand jury testimony came together in Starr’s copious findings to reveal that Clinton had lied under oath about a sexual relationship with Lewinsky and had made efforts to cover up his lies. Based on Starr’s evidence, President Bill Clinton was impeached in December 1998 by the U.S. House of Representatives but was acquitted by the Senate in 1999.
Baylor University Scandal
In an unanimous vote, Starr was elected by the Baylor University Board of Regents to become its 14th President in 2010. In 2013 Starr was also elected as Chancellor. In the short time he was in office, multiple sexual assault allegations were made by female students, many of which accused football players. However, Baylor University did not bring charges against the accused. Instead, criminal court proceedings revealed that former Baylor linebacker Tevin Elliot was guilty of two counts of sexual assault of a Baylor student (decided in 2014) and that former Baylor defensive end Sam Ukwuachu was guilty of raping a student (decided in 2015, overturned and granted a new trial in 2017). During Ukwuachu’s trial, it was revealed that Baylor knew about the rape allegations against Ukwuachu but had made no efforts to punish him. A short time later, in May 2016 an independent investigation released a report revealing that head football coach Art Briles and others at the University were aware of multiple rapes of Baylor students committed by football players. Specifically, the report indicated:
"Baylor failed to take appropriate action to respond to reports of sexual assault and dating violence reportedly committed by football players. The choices made by football staff and athletics leadership, in some instances, posed a risk to campus safety and the integrity of the University. In certain instances, including reports of a sexual assault by multiple football players, athletics and football personnel affirmatively chose not to report sexual violence and dating violence to an appropriate administrator outside of athletics. In those instances, football coaches or staff met directly with a complainant and/or a parent of a complainant and did not report the misconduct."
Shortly thereafter, Starr was ousted from his position as President of Baylor University and later resigned as Chancellor.
Early Life and Education
Kenneth Winston Star was born on July 21, 1946 in the tiny town of Vernon, Texas near the Oklahoma-Texas border but grew up in San Antonio, Texas. A religious man and son of a Church of Christ minister, Starr once worked as a door-to-door bible salesman to help pay for college. After attending George Washington University (B.A., 1968) and Brown University (M.A., 1969), he earned a Juris Doctor degree (1973) from Duke University. He married Alice Mendell in 1970. The couple have three children together: son Randy Starr, and daughters Carolyn Doolittle and Cynthia Starr. Just like their parents, all three children are active in community outreach.
Starr has held numerous positions throughout his career. In government, he served as a law clerk to Fifth Circuit Judge David W. Dyer (1973-1974) and to Chief Justice Warren Burger (1975–1977), as a counselor to the U.S. attorney general (1981–1983), as a United States Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit (1983-1989), and as Solicitor General of the United States (1989–1993). In 1994 Starr led the Whitewater affair investigation into a land deal in Arkansas. Throughout the 1990s, Starr investigated numerous White House incidents including the suicide of White House counsel Vincent Foster, financial improprieties in the Travel Office operation (known as Travelgate), and improper access to FBI security-clearance documents (known as Filegate). In 1998, the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal dominated his career.
In addition to his involvement with high-profile law cases, Starr developed an illustrious career in academia teaching constitutional law at New York University School of Law, George Mason University School of Law, and Chapman Law School. At Pepperdine, he was a Duane and Kelly Roberts Dean and Professor of Law where he taught current constitutional issues and civil procedure from 2004 to 2010. He has authored over 25 publications.
Starr received numerous honors and awards for his government service and academic contributions, including the J. Reuben Clark Law Society 2005 Distinguished Service Award, the 2004 Capital Book Award, the Jefferson Cup award from the FBI, the Edmund Randolph Award for Outstanding Service in the Department of Justice and the Attorney General's Award for Distinguished Service.
In 2010 Starr became President of Baylor University and served as The Louise L. Morrison Chair of Constitutional Law at Baylor Law School. He concurrently held the title of Chancellor beginning in 2013. After the mishandling of numerous sexual assault cases, Starr left Baylor University in 2016.
Today, in a strange turn of events, Starr has made numerous public comments that seem to almost to absolve or even exonerate former U.S. President Bill Clinton for his scandalous acts. He is also an outspoken opponent of Trump, stating in a recent op-ed for The Washington Post to stop the “wildly inappropriate attacks on the attorney general” which he describes as: “One of the most outrageous — and profoundly misguided — courses of presidential conduct I have witnessed in five decades in and around the nation’s capital.”