Obtaining Life Changing Results
for Victims and Their Families

How Can You Sue a University in a Sexual Abuse Case?

Latest News

When Can Someone Sue a University in a Sexual Abuse Case in Pennsylvania?

Under guidance known as Title IX, students at universities have the right to pursue their education free from sexual harassment of any source, including sexual violence.

When a student is a victim of sexual violence on campus, the university is required to investigate the crime and potentially take action to prevent it from happening again. If the university doesn’t follow its duties in this area, the victim can file a civil lawsuit against it.

What Is Title IX?

Title IX is a federal civil rights law that was enacted in the U.S. as part of the Education Amendments of 1972 and is enforced by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). The law prohibits sex-based discrimination of any sort, including harassment and violence, at schools. The original law stated, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” That means that most K-12 schools, colleges and universities, vocational schools, libraries, and museums that receive Federal funding are required to adhere to Title IX. The people covered under Title IX include students but also educators.

However, there are several organizations that are legally exempt from some or all of the provisions in Title IX, including private religious schools, groups such as YMCA/YWCA or Boy/Girl Scouts, social fraternities or sororities, or schools designed to train for military service or merchant marine. In some cases, the only exemption is admissions, while others are exempt from Title IX altogether.

Many people think of Title IX in terms of how it protects women’s participation in sports, but in fact, it goes far beyond ensuring gender equity in sports. The term “discrimination” is used here in a much broader sense and includes various forms of sexual harassment, including acts of sexual violence. Those acts of sexual violence can include stalking and date rape.

What Types of Title IX Complaints Can Be Filed?

Victims can file either local or federal complaints regarding universities not responding properly to matters of discrimination or violence. Federally funded schools are supposed to have at least one employee acting as a Title IX coordinator who ensures the university follows Title IX requirements.

Local complaints can be made through the university’s Title IX coordinator, and the school can oversee the case and assign consequences if they find the accused guilty.

Unlike the federal government, the school can also issue on-campus no-contact orders to the perpetrator and help the victim change their class schedules to avoid seeing the perpetrator.

If the university is not responsive or doesn’t respond according to Title IX rules, the victim could consider filing a federal complaint with the OCR.

Are There Restrictions on When Someone Can File a Complaint or Sue a University Under Title IX?

There are restrictions and limitations. Because Title IX has been discussed frequently in Congress, it’s always possible that more changes may be coming. If you’re unsure of whether or not the current iteration of Title IX law allows you to pursue a complaint, contact us for guidance.

Any complaint must be filed within 180 days of the act of discrimination or sexual violence. However, the campus Title IX coordinator has some discretion to extend that time frame if there are mitigating circumstances.

Someone does not have to go through the campus office first if they want to file a complaint directly with the OCR. However, it’s advisable to do so to see if it can be resolved on the local level before proceeding to the federal level. Any complaints filed with the OCR after pursuing action on the local level must be filed within 60 days of the final act of the school.

Anyone who is aware of discrimination or sexual violence occurring at a federally financed education institution has the right to file a complaint, even if they’re not the direct victim. They’re allowed to complain on behalf of another person or group.

Why Would Someone Sue a University for a Sexual Abuse Case?

There can be many reasons, but a primary one is that the victim tried to obtain justice through the university, and the university’s response was not what’s required by Title IX. That could take the form of the university refusing to take action at all or doing so little as to be negligent, or if a staff person was involved in the abuse, they may have had negligent hiring practices.

What Should I Do if I Need to Pursue Suing a University in a Sexual Abuse Case?

Call Andreozzi + Foote at 866-311-8640 for a free, confidential consultation. Pursuing action against a university for a sexual abuse case can be a complicated process involving numerous laws and regulations. Time is of the essence, as cases that aren’t filed within the required time frames can be dismissed entirely rather than pursued.

At Andreozzi + Foote, we understand how traumatic this situation is and how necessary it feels to pursue justice. We can guide you through what to expect and how to ensure all the legal avenues are pursued.

Related Articles

Sexual Abuse Is A Problem In Institutions, Catholic And Otherwise

Read More

Civil Lawsuits On Behalf Of Crime Victims For Inadequate Security

Read More

What Is Megan’s Law?

Read More