COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Elton Yarbrough was a young man seemingly on his way up: An economics major at Texas A&M University; a member of the university’s military cadet corps; a musician in the marching band; the pride of little Palestine, Texas; and soon to be an officer in the U.S. Air Force.
But police say he was also one other thing: A serial rapist.
The one-time Texas A&M senior is now sitting in a Texas prison until at least 2015 for felony sexual assault. Five women, including four female A&M students, testified Yarbrough raped or sexually assaulted them between 2003 and 2006, although he was only tried on one assault charge. Yarbrough says he is innocent.
Yarbrough is one of six alleged serial offenders at colleges across the country the Center for Public Integrity found during its year-long investigation of sexual assault on college campuses. The six were accused of assaulting multiple women in court records, campus records or other public documents.
However, students who reported being raped by fellow students told the Center of at least five other men whom they suspected of, or had heard of, assaulting other women. Those men probably look a lot like Yarbrough did to Texas A&M administrators and to his fellow students: A promising young student with an outstanding resume of achievements. As one of his accusers would later write in a statement read at a university judicial proceeding, “If you cannot trust another student with a record which appears as impeccable as Elton’s, then who can we really trust in life?”
The number of serial offenders did not surprise psychologist David Lisak, a University of Massachusetts-Boston expert on campus sexual assault.