AUSTIN, Texas Former Baylor football coach Art Briles and former athletic director Ian McCaw were dismissed Wednesday from a lawsuit brought by woman who said they and the school ignored her claims that she was raped by a former player who was later convicted.
The men had been named in Jasmin Hernandez’s lawsuit against Bayor as co-defendants in their “official capacity.” But Briles’ lawyers argued both men could not be sued in their official role under the Title IX federal gender discrimination law cited in the lawsuit.
Hernandez’s lawyer, Alex Zalkin, said he would refile claims against both Briles and McCaw in federal court under Texas state negligence claims. The court set an Oct. 12 deadline for Hernandez to amend the lawsuit.. The Associated Press generally doesn’t identify sexual assault victims, but Hernandez has spoken publicly to draw attention to the case.
Wednesday’s ruling “shifts the ball to a new court” but won’t stop Hernandez from trying to hold both men accountable, Zalkin said.
The federal lawsuit against Baylor continues. U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman denied the university’s request to temporarily halt evidence gathering while considering the school’s request to dismiss the case. That could open the path for her attorneys to begin interviewing witnesses and collecting documents, notably statements and materials related to a law firms’ investigation of how Baylor handled sex assault allegations over a three-year period.
“Coach Art Briles is very happy he has been dismissed as a defendant in this case. Plaintiffs may very well allege future claims against him and we will take those on if and when they are filed,” Briles’ attorney, Kenneth Tekell, said.
Baylor fired Briles in May and McCaw resigned after a school-funded investigation found the Baptist school had mishandled allegations of sexual assault, including claims made against football players. Former President and Chancellor Ken Starr also was forced out.
The Pepper Hamilton law firm concluded the football program acted as it was “above the rules” when dealing with assault claims and rules violations.
Hernandez sued in March, claiming Baylor knew that former player Tevin Elliott had a history of assaults, failed to protect her and others who were attacked, and ignored her pleas when she sought help after her assault in 2012. Elliott was later convicted of raping Hernandez and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Briles’ lawyers argued he couldn’t be sued as an individual in a Title IX lawsuit and that claims he ignored warnings of a sexual predator on his team were based on hearsay. They have also argued that Texas’ limited liability standards won’t apply to Briles if sued in state court.
Briles has acknowledged he “made mistakes” during eight seasons at Baylor, when he built one of the Big 12’s worst football programs into a national power.
“There was some bad things that went on under my watch. I was the captain of this ship,” Briles said in a recent interview with ESPN. “ ... So, I understand that I made some mistakes, and for that I’m sorry. But I’m not trying to plead for people’s sympathy. I’m just stating that, ‘Hey, I made some mistakes. I was wrong. I’m sorry. I’m gonna learn. I’m gonna do better.”
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