A Growing Trend: Colleges Not Taking Sexual Assault Seriously Enough

Domestic violence scene

It seems almost every week I read about another college or university student being sexually assaulted on campus resulting in a lack of support from the school administration. Victims are left feeling vulnerable, angry and at a loss as to why the schools are not doing more. It is increasing clear that many schools are discouraging students from filing police reports outside of the school and wish them solely to rely on a school investigation or campus police. Often students are not receiving prompt communication and are treated unfairly.

We are outraged how Stony Brook University handled a recent sexual assault complaint.

A lawsuit was filed on Jan. 23, 2015 with the United States District Court, Southern District of New York, in White Plains. The plaintiff, a former social work major, alleged in the complaint she was sexually assaulted by a male student in his dorm room during the early morning hours of Jan. 26, 2014 after attending a party at West Apartments with him the night before.

The plaintiff reported the incident to the University Police Department, was examined by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner and reported the incident to the Office of University Community Standards, the complaint states.

Don’t Let School Administrators or Campus Police Talk You Out of Going to the District Attorney or Hiring a Sexual Assault Lawyer

The plaintiff states in the lawsuit that campus police “were aggressive and intimidating in their questioning of her” and failed to investigate the case fully. It also alleges that the plaintiff was told by the unnamed detective that she did not have a “viable case” because “she did not scream ‘No’ or violently fight back in order to stop the attack, and that, while she could go to the District Attorney’s office, prosecutors would probably feel the same way about her case.”

To add insult to injury, the disciplinary hearing was scheduled during the plaintiff’s final exams. She was told she would be responsible for prosecuting her case” during the hearing.

“The process of prosecuting her own attacker, while also defending her own version of the facts, put the plaintiff in the impossible position of being her own surrogate lawyer while finishing her college education, attending to her job responsibilities, and suffering the trauma of the original attack,” the complaint alleged.

The school failed to find the alleged assailant responsible but an appeal was granted due to a procedural error. The lawsuit states the plaintiff was also notified she would be contacted by the Office of University Community Standards with the next steps in the process but after repeated attempts on the part of the plaintiff to establish contact, no university official provided any “substantive response” or further steps. If you have been sexually assaulted at a NY University, seek legal advice from a Sexual Assault Lawyer right away. Don’t wait for the school to finish an investigation.

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