College-age Rape Litigation
Litigation charges on campus sexual assaults
Colleges or universities are places of learning. They are places that guide students in achieving their goals. However, the increasing number of litigation cases show the dangers college students face from sexual assault.
Basically, sexual assault is any sexual contact or activity instigated without a person’s consent. It may be through force, in a form of a threat, or incapacitation. Rape is categorized under sexual assault. This is a form of assault that includes penetration of any sort without consent.
Staggering numbers show that 1 out of 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted during their time in college. Most cases of sexual assaults or rape involves both alcohol and drugs. Being drunk or high on drugs would render a person incapable of proper action, making them easy prey for assault. Universities and colleges are often flogged with frat parties and other house parties where alcohol and drugs are prevalent.
House parties are part of a student’s memorable college experience. It is where students get to have fun with friends and meet new ones. However, the dangers of sexual assault and rape hang over entire experience. According to Elizabeth Armstrong of Indiana University Bloomington, sexual assault arises from the conflicting expectations between men and women. Women attend house parties “expecting to kiss and make out, but the male students often expect sex.” The problem with this mentality is that rape and sexual assault are being normalized. With the use of alcohol and drugs, abusers can manipulate victims into having intercourse while under the influence of such substances. In the end, the victims are often unable to remember or can vaguely recall the assault while some blame themselves for being an easy target. Victims should never blame themselves for being assaulted, instead, these cases should be properly reported and put to justice.
A similar incident is described in my book, Perfect Clarity. Kathleen, a female college student was sexually assaulted after being incapacitated during a house party. The culprit turned out to be one of her colleagues. Fortunately, investigations were appropriately done and the litigation process was immediately served.
How does sexual assault litigation work?
Title IX of the federal law designates the responsibility to universities to create systems, procedures, and policies to handle rapes or other forms of sexual assaults in campus. When an alleged sexual assault has been reported, the school authorities are expected to take proper action and immediately address the situation.
If a student becomes a victim of sexual harassment or assault, an internal complaint should be immediately served. The school is obligated to take actions to prevent further harassment from incurring. If the perpetrator is a student from the same institution, the school should take proper measures to keep the accuser safe, such as changing the victim’s class schedule, prohibiting contact with the perpetrator, or even to the extent of expelling the perpetrator. Failure to acknowledge or investigate the complaints may lead to litigation charges against the school for not properly implementing this law.
There are some sexual assault victims who don’t think they should come forward because they are ashamed or afraid. However, campus sex crimes should be reported. Should victims decide to press charges, a police report is not required. The victim can directly file a complaint to the school or straight to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR). If the victim decides to push through with the complaint, the litigation process then starts.
Processing the lawsuit is divided into four phases. The first phase is the investigation and filing of the complaint. Eye witnesses and documents necessary to pursue the claim are gathered. Once every piece of evidence is in order, the complaint is then filed. The second phase is known as the “discovery.” The plaintiff and defendant send written questions to each opposing party and these questions are answered under oath. The next phase is the pre-trial stage, which determines the order to have the case dismissed or the issues narrowed and to establish strategies to be used at trial. The last phase of the process is the trial. Both parties present their case to the jury with live testimonies and exhibits. After hearing the evidences and the judge recites the laws, the jury renders a verdict. Motions to appeal from a verdict may be applied by both parties but the process generally takes between a year or two.
The increase in litigations of sexual assault on campuses in the United States is very alarming. There are studies conducted to learn the main source of the problem and institutions are on their way to formulating a system to prevent these incidents from happening. In the meantime, the litigation process is one of the options available for victims of sexual assault to hold their perpetrators accountable.
To give you a better idea about the personal struggles of such victims, then read about Kathleen’s story on how she managed the sexual assault litigation. You will also find other stories by women living in a misogynistic society in my book Perfect Clarity: A Novel About Our Male-Dominated Misogynist Society and Four Women Who Fought Back (1874 to the Present). For updates, you can connect with me through Twitter, and Goodreads.
Serio, Tricia. “Colleges Must Confront Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Head On.” The Conversation. April 2, 2018. Accessed May 9, 2018. https://theconversation.com/colleges-must-confront-sexual-assault-and-sexual-harassment-head-on-93054.
“Sexual Assault on College Campuses.” Womenshealth.gov. Last updated April 2, 2018. Accessed May 10, 2018. https://www.womenshealth.gov/relationships-and-safety/sexual-assault-and-rape/college-sexual-assault.
“World Resources Institute: Sexual Assault Statistics 2017.” Where is Your Line? Accessed May 10, 2018. http://whereisyourline.org/sexual-assault-statistics-2017/.
“Title IX.” End Rape on Campus. Accessed May 10, 2018. http://endrapeoncampus.org/title-ix#top.
“How does the Litigation Process Work”.” HP.org Legal Resources. Accessed May 18, 2018. https://www.hg.org/article.asp?id=20845
Seelinger, Lani. “Why is Sexual Assault So Common in College? 9 Subtle Ways It Creeps into America’s Education System.” Bustle. October 27, 2017. Accessed May 21, 2018. https://www.bustle.com/p/why-is-sexual-assault-so-common-in-college-9-subtle-ways-it-creeps-into-americas-education-system-3010449.
“Sexual Assault is Common at College Parties.” IU News Room. Accessed May 21, 2018. http://newsinfo.iu.edu/web/page/normal/3938.html.