Friday, March 20, 2015

Sexual Assault Litigation Update

Numerous Title IX lawsuits have been filed recently, with claims stemming from incidents alleged to involve sexual harassment and sexual assault:
  • A female student has sued James Madison University for failing to adequately discipline three fellow students who sexually assaulted her during a spring break trip and then circulated a video of the incident among the student body.  She alleges that the university violated Title IX by delaying the disciplinary process for over a year before finally handing down suspensions that will not kick in until the offending students have graduated.  JMU is facing an investigation by the Department of Education into this same matter, as we have earlier noted
  • A male graduate of Boston College has sued his alma mater for disciplining him for sexual assault while he was a student.  He alleges that the institution did not provide a fair hearing before finding him responsible for sexual assault and suspending him for three semesters.  The student eventually graduated and unsuccessfully prevailed upon the Boston College to reexamine his case.  The lawsuit seeks $3 million in damages.  
  • Parents of a fifth-grade student in Grand Rapids, Michigan, have sued the school district for suspending the boy for ten days for sexual harassing comments and gestures that he allegedly made, and for expelling him after he allegedly touched a female student inappropriately.  The lawsuit alleges that school officials violated the boys' right to due process by not determining in either incident whether the accusations were accurate before taking disciplinary measures against him.  
  • A Harvard University professor has sued the institution, alleging that she was denied tenure in retaliation for criticizing its handing of sexual assaults. The plaintiff, anthropology professor Kimberly Theidon, alleges that she was warned that speaking out would hurt her during tenure review; she also claims that she quickly turned from someone who was assured tenure into someone being denied tenure once she began advocating for sexual assault victims. 
  • A male student alleged to have sexually assaulted a female graduate student at Stony Brook University, has sued his accuser for defamation and seeks damages of $10 million.  We have already blogged about the accuser's suit against Stony Brook, in which she alleges that the university mishandled her case before finding him not responsible.  She has also sued him directly.