FLASH STAFF REPORT
STEPHENVILLE (June 16, 2016) — More than 16 years after winning the 1999 4A Division II football title in his final game at Stephenville High School, Art Briles continues to rely on a local attorney for personal legal representation.
And Stephenville’s own Ernest Cannon has now been thrust into the spotlight.
Cannon, personal attorney for Briles, is cited throughout an Associated Press update on the embattled head coach, who was suspended with intent to terminate by Baylor University and has since been named as a co-defendant in a federal lawsuit filed by a woman who was allegedly raped by one a Briles-coached Baylor football player.
The Flash called Cannon’s Stephenville law office just after 2 p.m. Tuesday seeking local confirmation of the attorney’s involvement in the case, but there was no answer. A message was left but not immediately returned.
Briles’ current legal battles are over both his job and his alleged participation in ignoring, or at the very least, not properly reporting, allegations of sexual assault made against student athletes at Baylor, where he was head coach eight seasons and won 50 games over the last five years alone.
The AP quoted exerts from a letter Cannon, in representation of Briles, wrote to Baylor lawyers demanding he be provided all legal materials that could involve his client, including all findings by Pepper Hamilton, the Philadelphia law firm hired by Baylor to investigate mishandling of sex assault allegations and cases by the nation’s largest Baptist University.
Cannon has accused Baylor of using the coach as a scapegoat, according to the AP story written by Jim Vertuno and published just before 1 p.m. Thursday.
“The conclusion is inescapable that the motive of Baylor and the Board of Regents was to use its head football coach and the Baylor athletic department as a camouflage to disguise and distract from its own institutional failure to comply with federal civil rights protections,” Cannon wrote to Baylor’s attorneys, according to Vertuno’s AP report.
Briles has been named with Baylor as a codefendant in a lawsuit filed by former Baylor student Jasmin Hernandez, who in 2012 was raped by Baylor player Tevin Elliott, who has since been convicted and is serving a prison sentence. Hernandez and her legal team claim Baylor knew of Elliott’s history of violence and failed to protect her and others, according to the AP report.
Baylor attorneys told the court that a settlement with Hernandez was being sought, according to the AP, but Cannon says Briles has not indicated he has any current plans to settle.
“Mr. Briles does not wish to settle the (lawsuit) and does not consent to any settlement in that case or any other case in which (Briles) is jointly named as a defendant and currently outstanding or filed in the future,” Cannon wrote, according to the AP.
Briles led Baylor to a pair of Big 12 titles and a record of 65-37 over eight years. He guided Stephenville to high school championships in 1993, 1994, 1998 and 1999.
Cannon, who has an office on Belknap Street in Stephenville, has been licensed by the Texas State Bar since 1969, the same year he completed law school at the University of Texas.