DALLAS, Texas. Campus sexual assault is enough of a personal injury risk for college students that the Centers for Disease Control’s “Tips for College Health and Safety” devotes a whole section to sexual assault prevention methods. According to the Centers for Disease Control, approximately 37% of rape victims suffered assault between the ages of 18 and 24—the average age of students during their college years.
The problem of sexual assault on college campuses has sometimes been swept under the rug. College administrators have, in the past, been reluctant to report college sexual assault because they did not want these numbers to reflect poorly on their campus’s perceived safety statistics. The outcome was that many women did not receive the support they needed after suffering sexual assault and injury. Some women even claim that they were discouraged from reporting their sexual assault to the police. Yet, in the wake of the #MeToo movement, some victims of sexual assault are coming forward and speaking out against their schools’ harmful sexual assault and harassment policies, with some women even suing their universities. Reports have indicated that the problem spans from students to professors, with some professors feeling like they had been pushed out of jobs by men in powerful positions.
But, there is another side of the story. In the aftermath of the #MeToo movement, universities and colleges have started to take women’s reports more seriously. However, there have been some unintended consequences. Some men claim that they have lost their right to due process and that false accusations have lost them the right to equal educational access. According to the Atlantic, one student was banned from campus even after city police had closed the case against him after reviewing the allegations. The student, who had been previously active in the student community as a member of the Black Student Union claims he was discriminated against.
Other men feel the same way. According to BuzzFeed, more men are filing defamation suits against women who have accused them of sexual harassment. When women report sexual assaults on campuses, allegations are taken very seriously. These allegations can impact a person’s ability to continue to pursue an education, and in some cases, may even result in the university placing a degree on hold. Some men claim that they have become the victim of university disciplinary groups that don’t give them the opportunity to fairly defend themselves. As universities strike a balance between protecting victims’ rights and giving the accused a right to a fair trial, some claim that universities are simply not equipped to dole out justice.
This creates a situation where victims may face the double victimization of being sued after speaking out about assault. It also creates a situation where the wrongfully accused claim that they have not been given a fair trial or hearing on campus—a place where administrators may be ill-equipped to hold such hearings. Even more disturbing is the fact that some assaulters may be using defamation suits to get women to withdraw their sexual assault claims. Yet, one lawyer, who founded a non-profit to help sex-trafficked women, claims that some men’s lives are destroyed because women label “bad sexual encounters” as “sexual assault.” Some campuses take a hard line, telling students that they should look for “enthusiastic consent” before engaging in any sexual activity.
Defamation suits are possible in college campus settings because college campuses are not the police. Women still always have the right to report rape or sexual assault to police without the risk of facing a defamation suit, though there have been cases where women have been accused of making false claims to police, too.
The situation is highly complex. People on both sides of the issue stand to lose much. The Law Offices of Robert Gregg are personal injury lawyers in Dallas Texas who are closely watching how the new administration handles the issue of college sexual assault. If you’ve been injured due to another person’s actions, you may have rights. Visit us at http://www.gregginjury.com/ to learn more.
Law Offices of Robert Gregg
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Dallas, TX 75201