Lawyer: Baylor settles with woman who said rape was ignored
By JIM VERTUNO
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) The first woman to sue Baylor University over allegations the nation's largest Baptist school ignored or mishandled rape allegations has settled her case, her attorney said Tuesday.
Jasmin Hernandez sued Baylor in early 2016, two months before the school released the results of an internal investigation that found Baylor had mishandled rape or assault cases for years and the football program acted as if it was "above the rules."
Baylor fired football coach Art Briles, demoted university President Ken Starr and reprimanded athletic director Ian McCaw in May 2016. Starr and McCaw later left the school.
Briles and McCaw were also named as defendants in the Hernandez lawsuit, but federal court records online show she asked a judge to release them from the case.
Hernandez's lawyer, Alexander Zalkin, told The Associated Press that Hernandez settled the case with all parties over the weekend, but declined to release details of any financial agreement. There was no settlement announcement in the online court records Tuesday night.
Briles' attorney, Mark Lanier, said the former coach "wouldn't pay a dime. They just let us out of the case. We feel bad for what happened to Jasmin Hernandez, but Art Briles didn't do anything wrong."
Zalkin disputed that account but refused to provide details.
"As to Mr. Lanier's comments, I disagree with his position but will not make any further comment so as not to violate the confidential terms of our agreement or mediation confidentiality," Zalkin said.
McCaw, now the athletic director at Liberty University in Virginia, was also dismissed from the case, said his attorney Tom Brandt. A Baylor spokeswoman declined comment.
Baylor had previously tried to settle with Hernandez, who was raped by former football player Tevin Elliott in 2012. He was later sentenced to 20 years in prison. Hernandez's lawsuit claimed Baylor knew Elliott had a history of assaults, failed to protect her and others who were attacked, and ignored her pleas when she sought help.
The Associated Press generally doesn't identify sexual assault victims, but Hernandez has spoken publicly.
"We are very proud of Jasmin for her courageous efforts to draw attention to the issue of campus sexual violence, and are honored to have been a part of this journey with her," Zalkin said.
Baylor was already under intense scrutiny when Hernandez sued amid a wave of media reports on allegations of sexual and physical assault surrounding the football program. The school had hired the Pepper Hamilton law firm to investigate after former football player Sam Ukwuachu was convicted of sexual assaulting a student. His conviction was later overturned and he is awaiting a retrial.
The school was hit with a cascade of federal lawsuits after Baylor released its findings from the Pepper Hamilton report in May 2016. The school has settled with several women but still faces multiple lawsuits that have alleged gang rapes by football players and claims the school used its strict honor code against premarital sex and alcohol use to silence victims and witnesses.
Hernandez would be the second woman who sued Baylor to settle. Baylor settled for an undisclosed amount in July with a woman who claimed the school fostered a "hunting ground" for sexual predators. Baylor also has settled with at least three women who didn't file lawsuits.
Baylor is facing federal civil rights and state criminal investigations, as well as an NCAA investigation.
Updated August 16, 2017