Baylor Trying to Settle Sexual Assault Claim

     WACO, Texas (CN) — Baylor University is trying to settle a federal lawsuit from a former student who claims school counselors told her they were “too busy” to see her after she was raped by former football player Tevin Elliott.
     The Baylor University Board of Regents on June 9 filed an unopposed motion to extend the deadline for filing an answer from June 20 to July 20.
     Jasmin Hernandez filed a negligence and gender discrimination lawsuit against the board, former head football coach Art Briles and former athletic director Ian McCaw in early April. She says Elliott grabbed her at a party in 2012, took her behind a shack and raped her.
     At least five women have accused Elliott of raping or assaulting them between October 2009 and April 2012. He was sentenced in January 2014 to 20 years in state prison on each of two counts of sexual assault.
     Baylor said Hernandez does not oppose its request for more time.
     “The primary reason for this request is to provide the parties with an opportunity to explore early resolution of this matter while minimizing the cost and burden of litigation,” the 3-page motion states. “Defendant believes that the interests of justice will be served by extending the response date by 30 days.”
     Hernandez said that when she asked Baylor for psychological and academic counseling, she was given withdrawal forms and told she could leave the school.
     Baylor declined to comment on Hernandez’s case when it was filed, saying “individual incidents are deeply personal matters that do not benefit from our public statements.”
     The motion comes five months after Baylor settled similar claims from an unidentified student who said she was sexually assaulted by former football player Sam Ukwuachu. No lawsuit was filed in that case.
     Ukwuachu, a transfer from Boise State University, was sentenced to 180 days in McClellan County jail, 10 years of probation and 400 hours of community service.
     The mounting accusations of rape by football players led trustees to order an external review by Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton last year.
     The findings were damning, as the report accused administrators of “directly discouraging” women from reporting sexual assaults and in one case retaliated against a woman for it.
     The report resulted in the board demoting Baylor President Ken Starr to chancellor in May. 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.
     Coach Briles was suspended with intent to terminate. He has disputed whether Pepper Hamilton’s review was truly “independent.”
     Briles faced scrutiny over recruiting Ukwuachu despite his alleged knowledge that the 6-foot-4, 220-lb. defensive end had been accused of assault while at Boise State.
     Baylor on Friday announced Pepper Hamilton’s 105 recommendations on handling of rape claims involving student-athletes and apologies to past victims. Baylor said it has formed two executive-level task forces to implement the recommended changes.
     A Sexual Assault Task Force will be led by senior vice president and chief operating officer Reagan Ramsower and a Spiritual Life and Character Formation Task Force will be led by executive vice president and provost L. Gregory Jones.
     Interim Baylor President David Garland said the school has adopted the law firm’s recommendations “as mandates.”
     “We are activating immediately to assess and begin implementation of the recommendations to ensure progress toward the safety and well-being of all our students,” Jones said in a statement Friday. “Student safety demands our commitment and concentration.”

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