Former student claims in lawsuit Baylor University ignored her rape

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 31, 2016 4:14 PM

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A former student at Baylor University has brought a negligence lawsuit in federal court in Texas against the school, world's largest Baptist college, claiming it acted callously and indifferently after she was raped by a Baylor football player.

The lawsuit, filed on Wednesday by Jasmin Hernandez against the university's board of regents, football coach and athletic director, comes as an independent body is looking into complaints that Baylor has for years mishandled cases of sexual assault.

"Those failures amounted to deliberate indifference toward the unlawful sexual conduct and retaliatory conduct that had occurred, was occurring, or was likely to occur," said the lawsuit, which was filed at a U.S. district court in Waco.

"We provide interim remedies to support students who report sexual assault during the investigation and take immediate disciplinary action against students who are found responsible for acts of interpersonal violence," Baylor said in a statement.

Hernandez and two other woman testified in the 2014 trial of the player, Tevin Elliott, saying they were raped or sexually assaulted by the football player. Elliott, a defensive end, was found guilty on two counts of sexual assault and sentenced to 20 years in prison.

His lawyers contended the women who testified against him were lying and the sexual relations were consensual.

According to the lawsuit, the mother of Hernandez flew to Waco the day after the 2012 rape and requested the university's counseling center see her daughter. The center responded it was too busy and did not have time for the student.

Her parents also notified football coach Art Briles and athletic director Ian McCaw of the attack. McCaw told the family there was nothing the school could do unless the football player was convicted, the lawsuit said, adding the school did not investigate the rape accusation.

Hernandez feared meeting her attacker on campus. Her grades suffered and she eventually withdrew from Baylor altogether, the lawsuit said.

Elliott played 25 games for Baylor in 2010 and 2011, before being suspended indefinitely by the team in 2012.

In a separate scandal, Baylor football player Sam Ukwuachu was sentenced last year by a Texas judge to six months in jail for sexually assaulting a fellow student in 2013 in an incident that raised fresh questions about how the school investigates sexual assaults.

The judge in the trial deemed the school's investigation so insufficient that he barred defense from citing it.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Alan Crosby)