New Law on College Sexual Harassment in California

Q: What do I do if I’m a victim of sexual assault, harassment, or discrimination at college?

Before choosing a college, students and their parents undoubtedly weigh factors including reputation, the cost of tuition, financial aid, available majors, geographical location, and more. Those planning to live on campus may also address roommate compatibility and dorm décor. All of these issues are easily accessible and often painted in a positive light on the colleges’ brochures and websites.

But there’s another issue many parents and students overlook. One that either isn’t on the college website at all, or is buried many navigation tabs deep. It’s arguably the most important factor a prospective student of any major–commuter or resident—should consider and it is an issue 24/7, long after all the other factors have been addressed and resolved. We’re talking about college campus safety.

In July, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 2654 into law after a string of high profile incidents of sexual assault, harassment, and discrimination on college campuses involving faculty and students made the news. Such incidents include the rape of a woman by a former Stanford swimmer/student and several faculty sexual assault investigations at UC Berkeley.

The purpose of the legislation is to require each public or private post-secondary education institution in California to have “a written policy on sexual harassment, including information on the complaint process and the timeline for the complaint process, which shall be available on its Internet Web site”.

Colleges are also required to include the resources and remedies available on- and off-campus in the written policy and to provide a copy of it to each student, faculty and staff member. Further, the policy must appear in orientation materials and in all written statements of other college policies.

Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or action that is non-consensual, including inappropriate touching, rape or attempted rape, voyeurism, exhibitionism, and sexual harassment. These acts can be committed by strangers, acquaintances, intimate partners, family members, and even faculty/supervisors. Both women and men can be victims. And a college campus (or off-site venue) full of questionably-supervised, often inebriated, partying and promiscuous youth incapable of giving or denying consent can be a recipe for disaster.

Many victims of sexual assault struggle with depression, abuse drugs or alcohol, or suffer from suicidal thoughts long after the incident, particularly if the attacker escapes criminal prosecution. But a victim may also pursue a civil action which requires a lower standard of proof than in a criminal case—meaning they are often easier cases to win. Victims may also be able to sue third parties, such as colleges or businesses, for failing to provide adequate security.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of sexual assault or abuse, you need a sensitive and experienced attorney by your side to protect your rights, conduct a thorough investigation and take the necessary legal action.

The Law Firm of J&Y fights for victims of sexual assault in Northern and Southern California. Our experienced attorneys will help you obtain the compensation you deserve and empower yourself again. Don’t let the victimization continue.  Contact us online here or call our office today for a free evaluation of your case at 888-806-6722.