Sexual Assault on Campus
Memphis Lawyers Helping Victims of Sexual Assault on Campus
Helping in-state and out-of-state students seek justice in West Tennessee
Colleges and universities should be a place where students can learn, prepare to earn a living, engage with their community, and develop personal relationships. All personal relationships should be consensual. When another student, a faculty member, or anyone on campus forces himself or herself on a student, or engages in any nonconsensual sexual activity, the wrongdoer should be held accountable. In many cases, the school or university itself may also be civilly liable.
At Bailey & Greer, PLLC, our Memphis sexual abuse lawyers have been fighting for personal injury victims since 1986. We understand the relevant laws that are designed to protect students from sexual abuse. We understand what actions Tennessee colleges and universities must take to help protect students and to provide students with the resources to respond to any sexual abuse. We demand compensation for any physical harm, the medical help needed to repair any psychological damages, and for the student’s pain and suffering due to any sexual misconduct.
People of all sexes and genders are sexually abused
According to the Office of Women’s Health (OWH), one in five women experience sexual assault during their time at college. The abuse involves women of all races, ages, and ethnic groups. The most common time for these sexual assaults is in the first or second semester in college, and “Women who identify as lesbian, bisexual, or gay are more likely to experience sexual assault on college campuses than heterosexual women.”
Sexual abuse is not limited to women though. The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) reports that one out of every 10 victims of rape is male. About 21% of transgender and nonconforming college students have been sexually assaulted in some way.
Types of on-campus sexual abuse
Sexual abuse includes any nonconsensual sexual activity including rape, any unwanted touching or fondling, nonconsensual exposure, groping, and any attempts to commit any of these horrible acts. The abuse can be committed by anyone including:
- Professors and teachers
- Coaches and leaders of any extra-curricular activities
- Visitors to the school
- Any advisors to the students
- Any vendor who contracts with the university
- Other students
Sexual abuse can and does occur away from campus when students study in a foreign country, when they attend or participate in sports or other activities away from the university, and on their way to and from the campus.
The role of power in campus sexual assault cases in West Tennessee
Sexual assault is almost always about power, not about sex. The goal of sexual abusers is to feel powerful, and they do that by taking power away from their victims. Because schools that receive federal funding must report incidents of sexual abuse, we can see just how that power play is achieved:
- Through the use of drugs and alcohol. These substances can cause the users to be unaware of what is occurring. More specifically, any victim who is using drugs or alcohol is not likely to be able to give consent. Sexual relations without consent are normally a violation of the law.
- Through the use of peer pressure. OWH explains, “Students may feel peer pressure to participate in social activities like drinking, using drugs, going to parties, or engaging in sexual activities that make them uncomfortable. Being forced into unwanted sexual activity for social acceptance is a type of sexual coercion.”
- Through the failure to report. Only 1 out of 5 college-aged women who are sexually assaulted report the attack to law enforcement. Victims who are assaulted often find it difficult to talk about their attack, but reporting the abuse is generally the best way to hold attackers responsible. Colleges and universities need to ensure that survivors have a safe avenue for reporting sexual abuse and to get immediate counseling.
Students who have been sexually assaulted often suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression. Many develop academic problems and consider leaving school. They often struggle to develop healthy sexual and non-sexual relationships. What can make campus sexual assaults especially hard to survive is that the victim may continue to see the abuser on campus.
Title IX sexual abuse protections
According to the US Department of Education, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 “protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance.” Discrimination generally includes rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment.
Title IX applies to colleges and universities. The law also applies to for-profit schools, technical schools, libraries, and museums.
Title IX requires that all colleges and universities promptly investigate any claims of sexual assault or misconduct on behalf of students and staff members. This means that schools must move quickly after they know or reasonably should know of any sexual misconduct to address the complaint and prevent future acts. According to the US Department of Education, the schools must act even if the students or parents of the students don’t want to file a formal complaint.
Schools must “publish a policy that it does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs and activities.” Furthermore, “This notice must be widely distributed and available on an on-going basis. The policy must state that inquiries concerning Title IX may be referred to the school’s Title IX coordinator or to OCR.” Every school must select a Title IX coordinator to ensure Title IX compliance.
Schools subject to Title IX must also establish grievance procedures and disciplinary procedures.
Steps students can take if sexual abuse, sexual assault, or sexual harassment occurs
When a sexual assault occurs on campus, the person who commits the assault can and should be held criminally and civilly liable. In addition, schools which fail to comply with their Title IX requirements can be subject to civil lawsuits and statutory damages.
Victims should seek experienced Tennessee legal counsel to explain their rights and file the proper complaints. Experienced lawyers in Memphis or Jackson will also help you arrange to see psychologists and other emotional care professionals.
Victims should consider filing an internal complaint with their college or university. They should also consider filing an external complaint with local law enforcement. Often, defense lawyers will argue that if you didn’t file a complaint, then the misconduct couldn’t have been too serious. By filing a complaint, you not only help to protect your rights, you help to hold the wrongdoer responsible so that he/she can’t harm anyone else. Victims may also file a complaint directly with the US Department of Education.
Reporting procedures and misconduct policies for Memphis colleges and universities
Online submission: sites.Rhodes.edu/ or bit.ly/rhodestixreport
Christian Brothers University
Campus police: (901) 321-3550
Counseling Center: (901) 321-3527
Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center: (901) 272-2020
Director of Human Resources: (901) 321-3474
The University of Memphis
Office for Institutional Equity (OIE): 901.678.2713
Online submission: cm.maxient.com/
Talk to an experienced campus sexual assault lawyer in Memphis as soon as possible
It’s important to speak with an experienced sexual assault lawyer quickly after a campus sexual assault has occurred. At Bailey & Greer, PLLC, we guide you through the process while providing a safe and secure location for you to tell your story. If you prefer to work with an attorney of a specific sex, please let us know and we will ensure it happens. Please call us at 901-680-9777 or use our contact form to schedule a free consultation. We have offices in Memphis and Jackson, and serve all of West Tennessee.