sexual assault

Sexual Assault

One in Five Women will be Sexually Assaulted or Raped in College

It’s a staggering number that nobody wants to talk about. Between 80 and 95% of the women who are victims of sexual assault are raped when they’re at school or on college campuses, don’t report it. Our young women need to feel comfortable coming out of the shadows to talk about these sort of things when they happen. Frankly, the attackers (people) that are, you know, perpetrating this sort of activity in the colleges and universities that enable them, they should be cowering in fear. The fact is, the laws are there that can help address this sort of situation where a young college student has been sexually assaulted or raped on campus.

Federal Law – Title IX

There’s a federal law called Title IX, which imposes a duty on universities to have systems, policies, procedures, in place to help prevent sexual assaults and rapes from occurring on campus and, which imposes a duty on those schools that if both sorts of incidents do occur, that they respond immediately, effectively and appropriately in addressing the situation. So for example, you know, there have been instances where a college or university was unnoticed that a male student had acted inappropriately toward a female some point earlier in his career and then later, you know, he takes advantage of a woman or two down the line and there’s a sexual assault or rape allegation. The university didn’t do its job In addressing the first situation and it can be civilly liable under Title IX for the harms and losses that this young woman has suffered as a result of its negligence.

University’s Liability in Sexual Assault or Rape Incidents

Even in situations where a university wasn’t on prior notice that a particular male employee or student was dangerous, the university can still be liable for a sexual assault or rape incident, or if they didn’t respond effectively and immediately when they learned of the incident. There are a long list of tales where universities and colleges have not responded or not investigated or not investigated thoroughly enough, allegations against some of its male students. And in those scenarios as well, the universities and colleges can be held responsible for the underlying incident. Title IX only applies to universities and colleges that receive federal funding, but, the overwhelming majority of universities and colleges, certainly the larger ones, do receive some sort of federal funding and are governed by Title IX.

"Our daughters, our sisters, our wives, our mothers, our grandmothers have every single right to expect to be free from violence and sexual abuse,” Mr. Biden said. “No matter what she’s wearing, no matter whether she’s in a bar, in a dormitory, in the back seat of a car, on a street, drunk or sober—no man has a right to go beyond the word ‘no.’ And if she can’t consent, it also means no."

He added, “Men have to take more responsibility; men have to intervene . . . The measure of manhood is willingness to speak up and speak out, and begin to change the culture."

Vice President Biden

Courses of Action Under North Carolina Law

There are two courses of action available under North Carolina law.

  • A tort called battery which is basically an unwelcome physical touching
  • A tort called the intentional infliction of emotional distress

Both of these would fit very neatly and address a situation in which a woman has been sexually assaulted or raped.

We want to help. Sexual assault or rape is more than an attack on the body, it’s an attack on the soul. The fact that this is happening serpiginously and nothing is being done about it is morally reprehensible. We see opportunities for women that come forward and want our help under both federal law and North Carolina law.

We are offering free consultations to female college students that have been sexually assaulted or raped.

It’s important at the very least that women learn about what remedies they might have under civil law to address what happened. Obviously, college students do not have money to fund a lawsuit against a university or a male student. This is not a problem. Our firm certainly has the resources to help cover expenses, even if our client, who might be a college student, can’t afford that.

Why Women Don’t Come Forward When Sexually Assaulted or Raped

There are three misconceptions that I think prevent women from coming forward when they’ve been sexually assaulted or raped.

The first is a misconception that, ‘I knew my attacker, he invited me to this party or he invited me to his apartment.’ That’s common. In fact, when 90% of sexual assaults or rapes occur, the rapist or attackers are people the victim knew. This does not mean that you can’t have a viable legal claim against the university for that individual.

A second misconception is that, ‘what if I was drinking? I was under the influence of alcohol when it happened. Will I be believed? Does that mean that I can’t recover?’ Again, that’s very common. 9 out of 10 situations of sexual assault or rape involve the consumption of alcohol. In fact, many times, the woman is incapacitated by alcohol when the attack occurs. Again, it’s common. And that doesn’t operate as a bar to pursue any of the legal claims that are available.

The third misconception is that by coming forward and hiring a civil attorney, this is going to be all over the newspapers or there needs to be public court filings. And that’s not necessarily the case. The reality is that the colleges and universities are under immense pressure to settle these cases when this sort of thing happens. So, it’s important for survivors of rape or sexual assaults to understand that coming forward doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to come out.