Lawsuit contends Baylor failed to act on sex assault claims
DALLAS (AP) A woman has filed a federal lawsuit against Baylor University contending that the largest Baptist school in the country was ''deliberately indifferent'' to rape allegations levied at a former football player who was later convicted of sexually assaulting her.
The lawsuit alleges that the Texas school failed to take action against Tevin Elliott despite receiving six complaints from women claiming he assaulted them. The allegations come about a week after the school announced new measures to improve the school's response to sexual assaults, including hiring more counselors and additional training for faculty and staff.
The lawsuit was filed by Jasmin Hernandez of Orange County, California. Elliott was convicted in 2014 of sexually assaulting Hernandez and is serving a 20-year prison sentence.
The Associated Press generally doesn't identify sexual assault victims. However, Hernanez said in an online video posted Thursday by her attorney that she chose to publicize her case to ''address the concerns I have with Baylor essentially ignoring these sorts of issues, not only in my case but in similar situations.''
Hernandez called her decision to come forward ''quite difficult, but it's necessary, hopefully, so that in the future Baylor can change its policies and its way of dealing with this sort of thing and help people who need it.''
Inaction by Baylor officials in response to past sexual assault incidents has ''just shown a lot of disregard for its female students,'' she said.
Hernandez, a former Baylor student, said she was raped at an off-campus party in 2012. She said the school's failure to act against Elliott caused her emotional distress and led to failing grades. She lost an academic scholarship she had earned to study nursing.
''Baylor literally turned her away from health services, academic accommodations and failed to investigate her claims,'' her attorney, Alex Zalkin, said.
The university board of regents, Athletic Director Ian McCaw and football coach Art Briles are named in the lawsuit. Among Hernandez's allegations are that players were recruited without regard to the harm they might cause fellow students.
Hernandez argues in her lawsuit that Baylor violated federal Title IX protections against sexual harassment.
The university said last week that it was making changes to how it responds to reports of sexual assault sa part of a $5 million commitment to improve its efforts. Changes include adding another investigator and an administrative assistant to the school's Title IX office. Case management systems also will be enhanced.
University administrators declined to comment on the specifics of the lawsuit Thursday.
''We have and continue to actively work to educate our campus community and raise awareness about sexual assault prevention,'' the university said in a statement. ''We encourage students to come forward and we have a fully staffed Title IX office that receives and resolves those reports. Students are connected with important care and support services while our Title IX staff works to investigate claims in a timely, thorough and equitable manner.''
A message left with the school's athletic department for McCaw and Briles was not returned.