Baylor Rape Victim Settles Lawsuit Against School

WACO, Texas (CN) – A former Baylor University student who claims school counselors told her they were too busy to see her after she was raped by a football player settled her lawsuit against the school, her lawyer said Tuesday.

Irwin Zalkin, of San Diego, said his client, Jasmine Hernandez, is “very happy” with the settlement and that “we are moving on.” He declined to discuss monetary figures.

“I can’t talk about the terms of the agreement,” he told the Waco Tribune-Herald. “But I’ll let you guess.”

Baylor declined to comment on the settlement announcement.

Hernandez sued the Baylor Board of Regents, former head football coach Art Briles and former athletic director Ian McCaw in March 2016 in federal court for gender discrimination and negligence. She claimed football player Tevin Elliott grabbed her at a party near campus in 2012 and raped her behind a secluded shack.

Zalkin moved to have Briles and McCaw dropped from the lawsuit earlier Tuesday.

Elliott has been accused of raping or assaulting at least five women between October 2009 and April 2012. He was sentenced in 2014 to 20 years in prison on each of two counts of sexual assault.

Hernandez claims that when her mother was told by school counselors that they were too busy to see her, she was also rejected by the psychology department at Baylor’s Student Health Center. She claims that the school’s Academic Services Department later told her that even “if a plane falls on your daughter, there’s nothing we can do to help you.”

Hernandez alleges her parents tried to contact Briles, but that neither he nor anyone from his office called back. A nursing student on an academic scholarship, Hernandez claims her grades suffered after the rape, resulting in the loss of the scholarship and her dropping out of school.

U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman refused Baylor’s requests to dismiss the lawsuit in April 2016, although he did pare some claims.

The growing number of rape accusations against football players resulting in the school’s board hiring Philadelphia-based law firm Pepper Hamilton to conduct an external investigation into the school’s handling of the cases. The damning results released in May 2016 resulted in the removal of former school president Ken Starr, Briles and McCaw.

Regent Ron Murff apologized to the sexual assault victims at the time, saying “we are deeply sorry for the harm that survivors endured.”

Baylor asked Judge Pitman in June for more time to file an answer to Hernandez’ lawsuit, indicating it was trying to settle the case.

Later that month, Zalkin made explosive allegations against Briles, saying that he reneged on a promise to come to a mediation session “to support Jasmine” and “help her, and to apologize to her and her family.”

Briles allegedly reached a settlement with the school on the remaining years on his contract the day of the mediation. Zalkin denounced Briles at the time as using “the threat of helping” his client “as leverage” to negotiate his own claim against the school.

Briles steadfastly denied the allegations, asking to be dropped from the lawsuit in July 2016.

Briles’ attorney, W. Mark Lanier, of Houston, said Tuesday that other schools have contacted the coach and he expects his client to be coaching next year.

“There’s no question this is one step toward him getting back into coaching,” Lanier told the Tribune-Herald. “He did not want to get back into coaching until he finished through the legal system.”

Lanier confirmed Hernandez had dropped her claims against Briles and did not ask for money or an apology.

“He does feel bad for anybody who was hurt at all,” he said. “Whether through Baylor or otherwise, he’s still got a soft heart for a victim of any crime at all. He’s cognizant of that.”

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