Campus Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment
Sexual assault and sexual harassment at colleges and universities has been a major issue on campuses across the country and in the news media. Increased federal government regulation has encouraged colleges and universities to Clery Act, and take swift action against those accused of sexual assault or harassment. Schools may suspend or expel students after a quick investigation, placing a permanent black mark on their transcripts that makes it very difficult to transfer or apply for more advanced degrees. Where the accused student’s name is made known to the press, he or she may be branded a sex offender in the public eye – a designation that will follow him or her for years to come. This type of allegation is extremely serious and requires a strong response. Our experienced Title IX lawyers have for many years successfully represented students who are accused of sexual harassment or sexual assault in campus disciplinary proceedings, as well as students bringing claims of harassment or assault against fellow students.
We are very experienced at navigating the maze of federal and state laws and regulations that bear on these charges, including Title IX (the federal law requiring gender equality in education), the Clery Act (the federal law requiring colleges and universities to report their crime statistics and their prevention and discipline policies), constitutional due process rights in the case of public universities, and contractual rights of students in private universities. We are keeping abreast of the rapidly changing landscape in this area, in light of stepped-up federal enforcement and controversial state laws. Because we are also very experienced criminal defense lawyers, we are vigilant to protect our client’s rights and guard against jeopardizing the defense of potential criminal prosecutions. We are used to handling both criminal and university matters for our clients simultaneously, working to achieve the best possible results in both arenas.
Our long history of defending students means that we are familiar with the campus disciplinary process and have the expertise necessary to protect the rights of students accused of sexual misconduct. We can rapidly evaluate a situation and develop an effective defense strategy, coordinate a prompt and thorough investigation of relevant evidence and, when necessary, identify and retain expert witnesses to find and present weaknesses in the school’s evidence. Our extensive state and federal litigation experience means that, where appropriate, we are also ready and able to litigate against universities on behalf of students accused of sexual assault.
Our Title IX lawyers have achieved many significant victories for our clients in campus sexual harassment and sexual assault cases. For example, our attorneys recently helped a graduate student who was accused of rape by his ex-girlfriend, who also sought criminal charges and a civil restraining order against him. We represented him in his school proceeding where he was exonerated of the rape charge, and assisted his local attorneys in their representation of him in the criminal and civil matters. In a case where another student’s ex-girlfriend accused him of rape, our attorneys helped him draft his written submissions to the school conduct board and prepared him for his hearing, where he was exonerated of the rape charge. We also represented an undergraduate student accused of rape and acts of violence, whose accuser sought to have him expelled from the university. After a lengthy student conduct board hearing we prevented the expulsion. In another sexual assault case we negotiated with the school to allow our client to withdraw, rather than face disciplinary sanctions. We have successfully represented students accused of sexual misconduct who were found not responsible by their schools.
If you have been accused of sexual assault or harassment and are facing disciplinary action by your school, or if you have already been subjected to discipline for allegedly violating the school’s sexual misconduct policy, the Title IX lawyers at Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein LLP can help you navigate your school’s disciplinary and appeals processes, and advocate for your rights to fair treatment. Call us at (617) 742-6020 to speak with an attorney.