College Sexual Assault Lawsuits – Who are the Parties?


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Defendants in a College Sexual Assault Case

Like cases of bullying, cases of school sexual assaults are on the rise. Sexual violence in school often takes the form of coerced sexual contact, date rape and sexual harassment. Many students will become victims of sexual assault in a college setting, and will be too embarrassed to file a report. Many victims feel as though they were to blame or won’t be believed.

These feelings are absolutely normal for victims of sexual assault and sexual abuse. What victims do not often realize, however, is that by staying silent, they may be unintentionally encouraging the perpetrator who basically learns that they can get away with it and subsequently commits additional sexual assaults.

Related: College Campus Security & The Jeanne Clery Campus Security Disclosure Act

Many victims of sexual assault and sexual abuse have preconceived notions of what is involved in pursuing legal action against the perpetrator. Many victims are also surprised to learn that they may have valid legal claims against other individuals and entities which intentionally or unintentionally allowed the abuse to continue.

Defendants in a College Sexual Assault Case

Of course, the direct perpetrator can be held liable. However, other entities in a college sexual assault case may include:

  1. colleges/universities,
  2. sororities/fraternities, and
  3. bars/restaurants.


When it comes to sexual assaults on campus and off, colleges and universities may be liable for failing to do any number of things. Usually, liability is based on failing to take steps required in the given college’s own policies or procedures. For instance, the student handbook may indicate that the college is required to report cases of sexual assault to local law enforcement. However, the college fails to do so and simply ignores a student’s report. Here, the college may be liable to the student and/or subsequent students who suffer sexual abuse or assault.

More: Civil Lawsuits for College Crime (Assault, Sexual Assault, Alcohol Accidents) Part 1


Sororities and fraternities generally operate as legal entities, independent and separate from the college or university. As such, Greek organizations and other student-run organizations may face liability for negligence in contributing to a sexual assault or sexual abuse. A typical case involves a fraternity which has a house party at the fraternity house. Minors are served alcohol and are known to “hook up” with older fraternity members. However, the reality is that the younger students are too drunk to consent to the sexual contact. The fraternity may be liable both for serving alcohol to the minors and knowingly allowing sexual misconduct to occur.

Related: My son was hazed at college by his fraternity brothers. He was injured. Can he file a lawsuit against the school?


Bars and restaurants may also face liability when it comes to negligence in allowing sexual assault to occur. A typical case involves a series of sexual assaults which occur at a college bar or club. If the owner or operator of the bar has knowledge that such assaults may occur, and fails to take reasonable action, it may be liable in a subsequent civil sexual assault case. In addition, like with sororities and fraternities, bars and restaurants may also be liable for serving alcohol to a minor who is later sexually assaulted.

DISCLAIMER: This website does not create any attorney-client relationship or provide legal advice. It is crucial to speak to a qualified lawyer prior to making any decision about your case. Read full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.