University Sexual Assault

University campuses in California are revered for their academic excellence and vibrant student life. That’s why a shocking 2.5 million people attend California colleges and universities every year. Yet, even on prestigious California campuses, sexual assault occurs all too often. According to RAINN, approximately 13% of college students have been raped or sexually assaulted.

At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P, we recognize that sexual assault on university campuses is not just a statistic; it impacts real lives, disrupts education, and leaves lasting emotional scars.

For those who have experienced sexual assault, either on or off campus, the path to justice and healing can be complex and challenging. At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P, our dedicated team of college sexual abuse lawyers in California is committed to guiding survivors through this process. We understand the nuances of these cases and the sensitivity they require. Our goal is to ensure that your rights are fully recognized and upheld, providing you with the legal support you need to seek justice and begin the journey towards recovery.

Understanding Sexual Assault in University Settings

Sexual assault in university settings encompasses many non-consensual sexual behaviors, ranging from unwelcome sexual advances and touching to more severe forms of coercion and rape. It is crucial to understand that sexual assault is not defined by physical violence alone; it includes any sexual activity initiated without explicit and enthusiastic consent from all parties involved.

Universities, with their diverse and densely populated environments, can unfortunately present various scenarios where sexual assault may occur. These can include social gatherings like parties and events, within dormitories or fraternities, and even in more secluded areas of the campus. The mix of newfound independence, social pressures, and sometimes alcohol or drug use can create situations where boundaries are overlooked or intentionally crossed.

Sexual assault can occur between acquaintances, friends, or even in established relationships, not just with strangers. However, there is one commonality between all sexual assaults - the lack of consent.

Survivors' Rights and Protections Under California Law

California's approach to addressing sexual assault, particularly in college settings, is among the most progressive in the United States. The state established the "Yes Means Yes" law in 2014. This law requires all universities and colleges in the state to implement a sexual violence policy that fundamentally changes the narrative around consent. It advocates for an affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity, challenging the outdated idea that consent can be assumed from silence or lack of resistance.

Beyond this, California law offers a comprehensive framework of rights and protections for survivors of sexual assault. These laws are designed to ensure survivors have access to justice while being supported and protected throughout the process. A key aspect of these protections is the right to confidentiality. Survivors can report incidents anonymously, ensuring their privacy is respected. This aspect is crucial in encouraging more survivors to come forward without fear of unwanted exposure or retaliation.

Survivors also have specific rights regarding the reporting of incidents. They can choose between reporting to law enforcement, seeking a formal investigation through their university, or both. California law mandates that universities provide clear and accessible reporting pathways and support services for survivors. This includes counseling, healthcare, and legal assistance, ensuring survivors have the necessary resources for both recovery and the pursuit of justice.

Understanding these rights is critical for survivors in their journey toward healing and justice. This knowledge not only aids in filing a lawsuit but also helps in regaining a sense of control and autonomy that is often lost in the wake of such traumatic experiences.

The Role of Campus Law Enforcement in Campus Sexual Assault

When a report of sexual assault is made, campus police in California must immediately notify local law enforcement agencies. This requirement is crucial for several reasons. Firstly, it ensures that survivors receive prompt medical attention and support, which is vital for both their physical and emotional well-being. Early involvement of local law enforcement also facilitates a more comprehensive response, particularly in serious cases, by combining campus resources with broader law enforcement capabilities.

Additionally, California law stipulates that campus police receive specialized training in investigating and responding to cases of sexual assault and domestic violence. This training is essential for understanding the complexities and sensitivities involved in such cases. Campus law enforcement officers are trained to work collaboratively with advocates, medical personnel, and support services to ensure survivors receive comprehensive and compassionate care.

In cases where a university’s response to a reported assault falls short or if the actions of campus law enforcement are inadequate, survivors have the option to seek legal counsel. A college sexual abuse attorney in California, such as Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P., can provide crucial legal guidance and support after a sexual assault on a university campus.

The Role of Title IX After Sexual Assault

Universities in California have established guidelines that outline the steps to be taken when a sexual assault is reported. These policies often include formal and informal reporting mechanisms, offering survivors different options based on their comfort and needs.

The formal reporting process typically involves notifying the university's Title IX office or a designated official. Title IX is a federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. When a report is made, the university must initiate an investigation, which can lead to disciplinary action against the perpetrator, including expulsion. This process is separate and distinct from any criminal investigation that law enforcement might conduct.

On the other hand, informal reporting can involve speaking confidentially to counselors, health care providers, or victim advocates affiliated with the university. While this may not initiate an official investigation, survivors can access support and resources without triggering a formal process.

Title IX is a complex federal law with specific procedures and standards that can be challenging to navigate. Lawyers with experience in Title IX cases understand these nuances and can provide invaluable guidance. Our sexual assault lawyers will advocate on your behalf, ensuring that your rights are protected, and your voice is heard. We can assist in preparing statements, gathering evidence, and representing you during any hearings or meetings related to the case.

Filing a Civil Lawsuit After University Sexual Assault

Filing a civil claim after a university sexual assault provides a different avenue for seeking justice and holds different parties accountable compared to Title IX and criminal proceedings.

In a civil lawsuit, the perpetrator of the sexual assault can be held directly accountable. But beyond the individual, the university itself may also be liable, especially if it failed to provide a safe environment or did not adequately respond to the assault. This can include situations where there was negligence in preventing the assault or in the manner it was handled afterward.

Other parties might also be liable, such as organizations or groups associated with the assault (e.g., fraternities, sororities, or athletic departments), particularly if their actions or lack of actions contributed to the circumstances of the assault.

When university administrators fail to respond to sexual assault allegations appropriately, we fight back. At Cerri, Boskovich, & Allard, L.L.P., our sexual assault attorneys will investigate every aspect of your assault to hold all negligent parties accountable.

How is a Civil Lawsuit Different from Title IX Proceedings and Criminal Cases?

Title IX proceedings are specific to educational institutions and focus on addressing discrimination based on sex, which includes sexual assault. These internal administrative processes ensure the educational environment is free from discrimination and sexual violence.

A civil claim, on the other hand, is a legal process in a court of law where a survivor seeks monetary compensation for damages caused by the assault, such as medical expenses, therapy costs, and pain and suffering.

The standards of proof and procedures differ significantly. Title IX proceedings do not follow the same legal standards as a court of law and often have a lower burden of proof (“preponderance of the evidence” rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt”).

The state files criminal charges against the perpetrator to punish the offender through imprisonment, fines, or other penalties. The focus is on proving the crime occurred beyond a reasonable doubt.

In contrast, the sexual assault survivor initiates a civil claim and focuses on obtaining compensation for harm suffered. It does not result in criminal penalties but can provide financial relief and a sense of justice to the survivor. A civil claim offers a path for survivors to hold perpetrators and negligent institutions accountable, potentially providing financial compensation for the trauma and losses suffered. It's a distinct legal path that complements but does not replace, the options of Title IX and criminal proceedings.

At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P., our lawyers will clearly explain the various legal avenues available to you after sexual assault, including filing a civil claim, pursuing a case through the university’s Title IX process, and the possibility of criminal charges. Each option has different procedures, outcomes, and implications, and we can help clarify these distinctions.

Our Sexual Assault Law Firm Fights For You

Every case of sexual assault is unique, with its own set of circumstances and complexities. An experienced attorney at our law firm will meet with you in a confidential and free meeting to hear your story and listen to your concerns. We’ll then develop a strategy tailored to your case's specific details, considering your goals, the evidence available, and the likelihood of different types of resolution.

We know that the legal system can be daunting and complex and that survivors need a firm they can count on. We’ll help you navigate this system, handling paperwork, deadlines, and legal procedures so you can focus on healing.

Our attorneys tirelessly protect survivors' rights and interests throughout the legal process. This includes ensuring that their voice is heard, their privacy is respected, and they are treated fairly by all parties involved.

If a university or college fails to provide a safe environment or adequately respond to a sexual assault, we will hold them accountable. This might include proving negligence in handling previous complaints, lack of proper security measures, or inadequate response to the assault.

Universities have large resources and legal teams on their side to help mitigate their liabilities. After all, campus sexual assault is bad for the college’s image and might reduce future enrollment. Our lawyers know how to go up against universities and administrators to fight for survivors and help them obtain justice.

Contact Our University Sexual Assault Lawyers Today

If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted on a university campus in California, it's important to know that you are not alone and that there are paths to healing and justice. At Cerri, Boskovich & Allard, L.L.P., we stand by your side and help you navigate this challenging journey.

We believe in empowering survivors, advocating for their rights, and ensuring their voices are heard. Our approach is compassionate and understanding, yet firm in our pursuit of justice. Whether you're considering a civil claim, navigating university procedures, or simply seeking advice on your next steps, our knowledgeable attorneys are here to provide the guidance and support you need.

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