Former Baylor student reaches settlement on Title IX lawsuit

August 15, 2017, 9:51 PM

— -- The first woman to file a Title IX lawsuit against? Baylor, alleging the university failed to adequately respond to her report of being sexually assaulted amid a string of recent cases, has resolved her lawsuit against the school, former head football coach Art Briles and ex-athletic director Ian McCaw.

Former Baylor student Jasmin Hernandez reached an undisclosed financial settlement after a daylong mediation Saturday, her attorney, Alexander Zalkin, said Tuesday.?

Zalkin would not give details on what responsibility, if any, each party bore in the resolution, citing mediation confidentiality rules. But Briles' attorney, Mark Lanier, wrote in an email that Hernandez "dismissed her case against Coach Briles before the settlement. He didn't pay anything nor did he admit any liability."

"You kind of weigh the costs and benefits of continuing, and for her, it reached a point where she felt she could resolve the case and have some closure and move forward," Zalkin said. "It was the right time for her."?

Former Baylor football player Tevin Elliott was convicted in January 2014 for having sexually assaulted Hernandez at an off-campus party in 2012. In January 2016, she and two other women -- who also said they were victimized by Elliott -- spoke about their experiences on ESPN's Outside the Lines with their identities concealed. They criticized Baylor for its overall handling of sexual assaults, especially those involving football players.

Hernandez and her parents said that it wasn't until then that they learned of the school's obligations under Title IX, the gender equity law that has required universities to respond to allegations of sexual violence. Hernandez came out publicly when she filed her Title IX lawsuit in March 2016.

In Hernandez's lawsuit, she alleged that university officials were aware of a growing problem of sexual assaults on campus, including specific incidents involving Elliott, but did not take appropriate action. She also alleged that after her assault, the university denied her needed counseling and academic support, and she would end up losing her academic scholarship and having to leave Baylor altogether before she finished her degree.

Baylor's investigation into its handling of sexual violence complaints, amid publicity of several sexual assault and domestic violence allegations involving football players, culminated in May 2016 with the firing of Briles, demotion of president Ken Starr and suspension of McCaw. Starr and McCaw would leave Baylor soon after.

Hernandez's lawsuit would be the first of five other Title IX lawsuits filed on behalf of women who said the university improperly responded to their allegations of assault or abuse; one other of those has been settled. On Friday, a federal judge ruled in a separate ongoing case involving 10 women that Baylor must release underlying documents used in the investigation done by law firm Pepper Hamilton.

Hernandez's lawsuit was unique in that it separately included claims against Briles and McCaw, who were both dismissed from the lawsuit Tuesday. McCaw's attorney declined to comment. A Baylor spokeswoman wrote in an email that the university would have no comment.

"Not only has she gotten some personal gain out of this in terms of closure," Hernandez's attorney Zalkin said, "on the broader, global level she brought attention to an issue that badly needed it and she really effectuated some change at the university and hopefully at other educational institutions that looked at her circumstance, and the response to it, and hopefully they will decide to do things differently because of it."