Attorneys for a former Baylor University student who is suing the school for the way officials handled her sexual assault case said Monday that former Baylor head football coach Art Briles added “insult to injury” by failing to honor his promise to apologize to the woman and support her at a mediation session.
Alex Zalkin, an attorney from San Diego, California, who is representing Jasmin Hernandez, said Briles’ failure to show up at a daylong mediation session last week is consistent with how Baylor officials have treated Hernandez since she was sexually assaulted by former Baylor football player Tevin Elliott in 2012.
“For one, we expected (Briles) to apologize to Jasmin and her family in person,” Zalkin said. “That was the representation that his lawyer made to us, that he was coming to the mediation to support Jasmin. But it is just an added element of a long trail. She has been betrayed so many times by him and by Baylor as an institution. This is just another in a long line of betrayal events for her.”
Hernandez, who now is attending a community college, filed her federal Title IX lawsuit in March, naming Baylor, Briles and Ian McCaw, the former athletic director, as defendants.
Neither Briles nor his attorney, Ernest H. Cannon, of Stephenville, returned messages seeking comment Monday.
Hernandez’s lawsuit alleges Baylor officials knew of Elliott’s proclivity toward sexual violence toward women and were indifferent and insensitive after she reported the sexual assault.
Hernandez did not resolve her lawsuit with Baylor following the mediation last week, Zalkin said.
Cannon, representing Briles, filed an emergency motion last week in Hernandez’s case that sought to postpone the mediation. Briles alleged that the attorneys representing him and Baylor in the lawsuit have a conflict of interest because he alleged they violated his attorney-client privilege by revealing items that later were used to support Briles’ release.
The next day, Briles resolved his contract dispute with Baylor, withdrew his emergency motion and did not show up at the mediation between Baylor and Hernandez, said another of Hernandez’s attorneys, Susan Hutchison.
“We were shocked when Briles didn’t show to the mediation after promising to come and support Jasmin and her family, until we heard on the news that he had settled with Baylor,” she said.
Zalkin said Hernandez was “heartened” when she heard Briles was going to apologize to her and support her.
“His failure to show up adds insult to injury and left her feeling even more betrayed,” Zalkin said.
Hutchison said Cannon contacted her last week and said Briles was going to file the motion to try to stop the mediation. Later, Cannon called and told Hutchison that Briles “planned to appear at the mediation and intended to apologize to Jasmin and try to be helpful to her,” Zalkin said.
Zalkin said Monday he is not sure if Cannon is representing Briles in the Hernandez lawsuit.
“I have no idea who is representing who at this point,” he said.
Elliott, who had multiple sexual assault complaints filed against him, was convicted on two counts of sexual assault and is serving a 20-year prison term.
Another Baylor defensive end, Sam Ukwuachu, a Boise State University transfer, was convicted last year of sexually assaulting a Baylor female athlete. Jurors in that case recommended he be placed on probation.
During that trial, many of Baylor’s failings in handling sexual assault complaints came to light, prompting Baylor to hire Philadelphia-based law firm Pepper Hamilton to review the school’s procedures and make recommendations about how to improve its response.
Former Baylor player Shawn Oakman, another defensive end who had NFL draft aspirations, was arrested in April on charges he sexually assaulted a female graduate student at his off-campus apartment. His case has not been presented to a grand jury and he was not drafted.
Baylor regents heard briefings on the Pepper Hamilton final report in May and released a summary that indicated the lawyers found a “fundamental failure” within the university and its athletics department to implement federal laws, including Title IX.
According to the board, Pepper Hamilton found a “cultural perception that football was above the rules.”