By Associated Press - Friday, April 7, 2017

WACO, Texas (AP) - A federal judge ruled Friday that allegations can proceed to trial that Baylor University violated Title IX by disregarding women’s rape claims against a football player, leaving another female student prey to sexual assault by him.

In a 27-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman of Waco denied arguments by attorneys for Baylor, former athletic director Ian McCaw and former football coach Art Briles for dismissal of negligence and heightened-risk claims made by Jasmin Hernandez.

Trial is currently set to begin in July 2018.

The lawsuit filed by the Orange County, California, woman alleges the largest Baptist school in the country was “deliberately indifferent” to rape allegations levied at Tevin Elliott, who was convicted in 2014 of sexually assaulting Hernandez and is now serving a 20-year prison sentence.

Hernandez’s lawsuit claims Baylor failed to act against Elliott despite six complaints from women claiming he assaulted them. The Associated Press generally doesn’t identify sexual assault victims, but Hernandez has asked that her name and case be publicized.

The Pepper Hamilton law firm concluded the football program acted as if it was “above the rules” when dealing with assault claims and rules violations.

Baylor fired Briles in May and McCaw resigned after a school-funded investigation found the university had mishandled allegations of sexual assault, including claims made against football players. Former President and Chancellor Ken Starr also was forced out.

A Baylor statement Friday said the university “will not waver in its promise to continuously improve its processes and systems to respond to incidents of sexual violence of in its support for the well-being and safety of all students.”

Messages from The Associated Press to attorneys for Briles and McCaw drew no responses Friday. However, Briles attorney Mark Lanier told the Waco Tribune-Herald that he still expects his client to be vindicated.

“We know that everything the plaintiff said is not true, but we look forward to litigating that. The judge is not in a position to make that decision,” he said

Baylor’s Title IX coordinator, Patty Crawford, resigned in October and said publicly that top campus leaders undermined her efforts to investigate sexual assault claims and were more concerned with protecting the Baylor “brand” than the students.

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