Court documents indicate Baylor seeking to settle lawsuit
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Baylor University and former football coach Art Briles want to quickly settle a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by a woman who says the Baptist school was indifferent to her complaints that she was raped by a player, according to court documents.
Jasmin Hernandez sued the Waco, Texas, school in March amid the school's investigation into how it mishandled cases of assault. The Associated Press generally doesn't identify sexual assault victims but Hernandez has spoken publicly to draw attention to the case.
The settlement efforts were revealed in a motion filed Thursday by Baylor lawyers that asks a judge for an extra 30 days to formally respond to Hernandez's lawsuit.
"The primary reason for this request is to provide the parties with an opportunity to explore early resolution of this matter while minimizing the cost and burden of litigation," the motion said. "Defendant believes that the interests of justice will be served by extending the response date by 30 days."
Baylor attorneys said Hernandez agreed to the delay. Her attorney, Alex Zalkin, and Baylor officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment Friday.
Also Friday, the school released a list of 105 recommendations for change from Pepper Hamilton, including personal and institutional apologies to victims, and ensuring that reporting and investigation allegations involving student-athletes are handled the same as incidents across campus.
"Student safety demands our commitment and concentration," Baylor interim President David Garland said in a statement.
Baylor fired Briles last month and demoted former president and chancellor Ken Starr the same day it issued a scathing report that said school administrators did little to respond to accusations of sexual assault involving members of its vaunted football program.
That report said coaches stifled school and criminal investigations into serious allegations of assault by players, and perpetuated a culture that the football program was "above the rules."
Last year, Baylor settled with a woman who was raped by former football player Sam Ukwuachu, who was convicted in August 2015. Terms of that settlement were not disclosed.
After Ukwuachu's conviction, Baylor hired Philadelphia law firm Pepper Hamilton for a follow-up investigation, and the review appeared to show the university's potential legal liability in cases like Hernandez's and possibly others.
Earlier this week, an attorney for another former Baylor student who said she was beaten and choked by a player indicated another lawsuit may be filed.
Quickly settling the Hernandez lawsuit would shield Baylor from potentially embarrassing pre-trial discovery and depositions from Briles, Starr, former athletic director Ian McCaw, school regents or any of Briles' assistants who have been allowed to stay on staff.
Baylor is a private university. Most of the Pepper Hamilton investigation has not been released publicly beyond a 13-page "Finding of Fact" distributed by the school on May 26th. University regents say they didn't receive a formal, written investigation report, but instead a private oral presentation.