Bloomberg Businessweek – Changing How Colleges Deal With Rape

From Bloomberg Businessweek this sounds sadly familiar:

On April 20 of that year, Karasek says, she and three other women walked into Berkeley’s Center for Student Conduct to report that the same student had assaulted them. They told their stories to several administrators, including the school’s Title IX officer, Denise Oldham. At the meeting with Oldham, who enforces women’s rights to equal education under Title IX, Karasek says they were asked to write statements about the assaults. She assumed this was a formality and didn’t submit hers for almost a month. One woman, she says, misunderstood and didn’t write anything. Karasek says the school never followed up with that student. “She thought that telling her story out loud counted as informing the school,” she says. Berkeley acknowledges that a verbal report is enough—but Karasek says the women don’t know if that complaint was ever addressed. Berkeley says it can’t comment on specific students’ conduct cases and refused repeated requests to make Oldham available for interviews, saying “she’s focusing all her attention on addressing the situation.”

Karasek wasn’t satisfied. In February of this year, she and 30 other current and former Berkeley students, some as old as 60, filed two complaints with the U.S. Department of Education charging that the school violated their Title IX rights by mishandling their cases and, in some instances, discouraging them from filing reports. The 70-page, 35,000-word document alleges negligence, botched investigations, and general incompetence, and includes incidents that date to the 1970s. It comes on the heels of a federal complaint Karasek and LaVoie filed with the Department of Education last May alleging violations of the Clery Act, a 1990 law that requires universities to publish a comprehensive list of crimes on campus. And it’s one of at least 13 such complaints filed by women within the last year against Swarthmore College, Dartmouth College, the University of Akron, and the University of Southern California, among others. (These complaints are sealed to the public and the schools, but each college confirms the existence of a complaint.)

If you have been raped or sexually assaulted on campus, you have numerous options to take action including a civil lawsuit against your attacker, a disciplinary complaint under your school’s sexual assault code, a complaint to the Department of Education in Washington, DC, and a Title IX lawsuit against your school. Contact us for complete details and understand your right to be free from sexual assault and harassment on campus.

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James R. Marsh
A University of Michigan Law School graduate, James represents victims of campus sexual assault and rape; Title IX violations; sex abuse in schools, colleges, churches, and government and military institutions; online sexual exploitation; child pornography; sextortion, and revenge porn. His case on compensation for victims of child pornography in federal criminal restitution proceedings was recently decided by the United States Supreme Court. That case, United States v. Paroline, led to the Amy and Vicky Child Pornography Victim Restitution Improvement Act currently pending in the House and Senate. James founded the nationally recognized Children's Law Center in Washington, DC, and is an experienced trial attorney, and frequent commentator, lecturer, and Huffington Post Blogger. He now leads Marsh Law Firm in New York which is recognized worldwide for its work helping sexually abused survivors obtain justice and rebuild their lives with dignity and respect.

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