Rouse contends attorney-client privelege was breached

Updated: August 10, 2005, 12:02 AM ET
Associated Press

WACO, Texas -- A former Baylor University assistant basketball coach is suing an attorney, claiming she did not have his permission to release his secret tape recordings of Dave Bliss that revealed the former head coach's scheme to cover up NCAA violations.

Abar Rouse, now an assistant coach at Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, alleges that Waco attorney LaNelle McNamara violated their attorney-client relationship by giving copies of Rouse's tapes to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 2003.

The malpractice lawsuit filed Friday in district court in McLennan County seeks at least $1.5 million in damages. Rouse alleges that McNamara engaged in deceptive trade practices and acted negligently.

McNamara declined to comment on the lawsuit but said that just because ``allegations are made doesn't mean that they are true.''

Jim Witt, executive editor of the Star-Telegram, said he stands behind the paper's publication of the contents of the tape. The newspaper is not being sued.

``We have absolute confidence that our reporter acted in a completely ethical way in obtaining these tapes and reporting this story,'' Witt said.

After Baylor player Patrick Dennehy was found dead in 2003 and his family raised questions about who had been paying his tuition, Rouse secretly recorded Bliss, former Baylor men's basketball head coach, telling some players to falsely portray Dennehy as a drug dealer.

Bliss and former athletic director Tom Stanton resigned in August 2003. Later, a school probe revealed several NCAA violations, including that Bliss improperly paid the tuition of Dennehy and another player.

Last month former Baylor player Carlton Dotson pleaded guilty to killing Dennehy and was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

Rouse's lawsuit alleges that he secretly taped Bliss and hired McNamara because he ``feared for his life, his safety, the status of employment at Baylor University and his future employment opportunities.''

Since the tapes were released, Rouse claims he has been labeled a snitch and suffered lost income and employment opportunities, ``past, present and future mental anguish and emotional suffering, threats of bodily harm, public ridicule and vilification.''

If McNamara ``had exercised proper care and diligence, Rouse would not have been `blacklisted' in the college basketball community where top college basketball coaches opined on ESPN sports network that they would not hire him,'' the suit claims.

Rouse earned $42,000 a year at Baylor but now makes $8,000 at Midwestern State, the suit contends.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press