Attorney Says Art Briles Backed Out of Promise

     WACO, Texas (CN) – Fired Baylor football coach Art Briles reneged on a promise to apologize to a school rape victim after using her lawsuit as leverage in negotiating his contract buyout, the woman’s attorney said Monday.
     San Diego-based attorney Alex Zalkin represents Jasmine Hernandez, who sued Baylor, Briles and former athletic director Ian McCaw in March in Federal Court for negligence and gender discrimination.
     Hernandez says former football player Tevin Elliott raped her at a party in 2012 and that officials gave her withdrawal forms when she asked for psychological and academic counseling. She also claims Briles never responded to her parents’ phone calls about the rape.
     Briles filed an emergency motion for substitute counsel on Thursday, arguing the school is using “extensive personal information” he gave to their attorneys as ammunition for his firing.
     He said the school was planning a mediation with Hernandez for the next day without notifying him, and that its earlier request for more time to answer the lawsuit implied that all defendants were in agreement when they were not.
     The all-day mediation on Friday in Dallas ended with no settlement, Zalkin said in a written statement.
     He said Briles’ personal attorney, Ernest H. Cannon of Stephenville, Texas, called him after Briles’ filing and said his client “promised” to come to the mediation session “to support Jasmin” and “help her, and to apologize to her and her family.”
     Zalkin said his client was “definitely appreciative” that Briles wanted to help her lawsuit and apologize, and that she was “cautiously optimistic,” according to an ESPN report.
     Zalkin, however, says Briles did not show up to Friday’s mediation. That same day, Briles reportedly reached a settlement on the remaining years of his contract and withdrew his emergency motion for substitute counsel.
     Zalkin denounced Briles as using “the threat of helping” his client “as leverage” to negotiate his own claim against the school.
     “He doesn’t care about victims. He never cared about victims,” Zalkin said. “He’s using victims. He used them to help build up his football program, and now he’s using Jasmin to leverage more money out of Baylor.”
     He said Hernandez was hurt, “upset and she was offended” by Briles’ no-show.
     The numerous accusations of rape by football players led Baylor’s trustees to order an external review by Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton last year.
     Pepper Hamilton accused administrators of “directly discouraging” women from reporting sexual assaults, and said the school in one case retaliated against a woman for it.
     Baylor trustees demoted Baylor President Ken Starr to chancellor in May after the law firm’s findings were announced. Starr then resigned as chancellor “as a matter of conscience,” but stayed on as a Baylor Law School faculty member.
     Athletic director McCaw was suspended indefinitely, and resigned days later.
     Briles was suspended with intent to terminate. His settlement came days after three more former Baylor students sued the school for indifference to their rape reports. One of the plaintiffs alleges she was raped by a former football player in 2014 at a school-owned residence.

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