College Sexual Assaults – Justice for Victims in Civil Sexual Assault Lawsuits


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In the past few years, the topic of school sexual assault and abuse has made national headlines, time and time again. What started with the Penn State Sandusky scandal has turned into a barrage of reports of teachers sexually abusing students and students sexually assaulting other students. This happens at every type of educational institution, including:

  • elementary schools,
  • middle schools,
  • high schools, and
  • colleges/universities.

Justice for Victims of College Sexual Assault

A victim of sexual assault at college has legal rights in both the criminal and civil courts. The perpetrator may be subject to criminal prosecution. In addition, the victim may be able to file a civil case against the perpetrator and any other entity which acted negligently in preventing the assault or investigating it.

It is important to note that victims of sexual assault may be able to succeed in a civil case even if the criminal case fails to move forward and even if the criminal case results in a “not guilty” verdict. This is because the standard or burden of proof in a criminal case (beyond a reasonable doubt) is much higher than in a civil case (preponderance of the evidence). Proving something by a preponderance of the evidence requires having just enough evidence that the scales of justice tip in your favor or 51%.

Related: What is the Difference Between a Private & Public School in a School Sex Abuse Case?

In a civil sex assault case, the victim may be able to obtain financial compensation for:

  • pain and suffering,
  • medical bills,
  • counseling bills, and
  • lost wages.

In a college sexual assault case, the victim may leave school or otherwise discontinue their education. If this occurs, the victim may be able to obtain fair and reasonable compensation for pain and suffering and reasonably related education expenses incurred in switching schools, losing tuition, etc.

3 Types of Sexual Assault at College

At college, women and men alike can be sexually assaulted. There are 3 types of sexual assaultive behaviors at college: coerced sexual assault, date rape, and sexual harassment.

Coerced Sexual Assault (Physically Coercion/Mental Coercion)

Students who commit sexual assault by force (coercion) can be found at any college or university. Whether it’s physical coercion or mental coercion, sexual assault by force is probably vastly underreported.

Example of sexual assault by mental coercion: A student plies another student with alcohol and takes pictures of the drunk student in compromising, nude positions. The student threatens to send the pictures to the school paper, the victim’s parents, etc., unless the student engages in continued sexual activity or other behavior. This is an example of forced sexual assault by mental or emotional coercion.

Date Rape With or Without Alcohol/Drugs

Date rape is one of the most common sexual assaults which occur at college. Victims often report going on dates or going out with a friend and being sexually assaulted. While many cases of date rape occur with alcohol or drug use, some do not.

Sexual Harassment

Unwanted sexual advances, sexual comments, and sexually suggestive language are inappropriate and have no place in a school setting, including college. However, students can and do commit sexual harassment of other students. This is especially true in our technologically advanced age. Texting and cameras on smartphones can be used for purposes of sexual harassment.

More: The Problem of Sex Abuse in Schools Begins with the School Itself

If you or a loved one was the victim of sex abuse at college, please contact our firm for a free case review. Click To Call

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