Sexual Abuse At NYC Colleges & Universities

Peters Brovner is a boutique law firm that represents survivors of sexual abuse and assault, including victims of child sexual abuse. The firm has recovered millions of dollars in monetary compensation for survivors of sexual abuse and assault.

Are Schools and Universities Liable for Sexual Assault on Campus?

They can be.  Where a school’s negligence contributes to the sexual assault on a college campus, the school can be held liable for that assault.  For example:

  • If a college fails to provide proper student safety and security, that can result in liability.
  • Where a school fails to take action despite warning signs that a school-sponsored organization, such as a fraternity or sports team, engages in conduct involving sexual assault, that can result in liability.
  • Where a school fails to respond appropriately after being warned that a student or staff member has threatened or harassed a student, or otherwise ignores reports of sexual assault or sexual harassment, they could be liable if a subsequent assault then occurs.
  • If the school admits a student who it knows has a history of sexual assault and allows that student to live in student housing or otherwise participate in certain other student activities that too can establish negligence in cases of campus sexual assault.
  • If a school hires instructors or other staff who are known sexual predators, this can establish liability.

What Is the Clery Act?

The Clery Act is a federal law originally passed in 1990 that requires colleges and universities to report campus crime data, including sexual assaults on campus, support victims of violence and publicly outline the policies and procedures they have put in place to protect public safety.

Annual Security Reporting:

The Clery Act requires colleges and universities that receive federal funding to disseminate a public annual security report (ASR) to employees and students every October 1st. This ASR must include statistics of campus crime for the preceding 3 calendar years, plus details about efforts taken to improve campus safety.

Crime Categories:

Institutions must include four distinct crimes in their Annual Security Report (ASR).  These are:

  • Criminal offenses including, but not limited to, homicide, sexual assault and robbery.
  • Hate crimes including the above offenses plus, among other things, simple assault, intimidation and destruction/damage/vandalism of property.
  • Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) offenses.  These include domestic violence, dating violence and stalking.
  • Arrests and referrals for disciplinary action including weapons law violations, drug abuse violations and liquor law violations.

Victims’ Rights and Resources:

Victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking have specific rights, options, and resources guaranteed to them by the Clery Act.  Institutions are required to provide to students and employees, on an introductory and ongoing basis, prevention and awareness programs on the crimes covered above. Students also have certain rights including the option for a relocation/change of housing, transportation, or academic course assignment. They also include access to counseling services, legal services, and law enforcement notification.

What Is Title IX and does it Cover Sexual Assault on Campus?

Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments prohibits sexual discrimination in schools that receive federal funding.  The law requires schools to protect students from sexual harassment and sexual violence.

Since its enactment, no college has lost federal funding for violating Title IX, but some institutions have had to pay significant damages and legal fees in cases brought to court.

Under Title IX, colleges & universities must also take actions to prevent the violence, harassment, or discrimination from happening and protect the right to an education free of sexual assault, sexual misconduct and other violence, discrimination, or harassment.

Student Victims of Sexual Assault on Campus

Students who were assaulted on a college or university campus and wish to proceed legally against the school should contact an experienced attorney.  If the college or university did not take sufficient actions to protect you, it may be liable.

How does the Adult Survivor Act Affect Victims of Sexual Assault on College Campuses?

The Adult Survivors Act (ASA), which goes into effect November 24, 2022, is a landmark law that creates a lookback period allowing the adult victims of sexual assault and abuse — including those who were assaulted on a college or university campus — to pursue time-barred claims in court.

To understand the importance of the Adult Survivors Act it is worth looking at the details of the Child Victims Act. In February 2019, New York State passed the Child Victims Act, extending the statute of limitations for survivors of child sex abuse in criminal and civil cases in New York

The Child Victims Act allowed survivors of sexual abuse to hold powerful institutions, including schools,  liable for abuse that they tolerated for years. It helped more than 9,000 survivors seek justice for the wrongs committed against them.

Contact an experienced NYC Attorney

The sexual abuse attorneys at the law offices of Peters Brovner LLP focus on holding City, State and private institutions accountable for actions that result in significant harm and personal injury, including failure to protect individuals from sexual abuse.  If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual abuse or assault on a college or university campus and you need legal advice, please reach out to the lawyers at Peters Brovner LLP for a free consultation.