COMPLIANCE

Lawsuits

What prevention tools do you have available at your Institution?

   

   

Prevention of Lawsuits, Compliance...

Recently, there has been an avalanche of lawsuits filed against colleges and universities for both actual and false sexual assault claims, causing these institutions to bear significant financial liability and contend with negative publicity (affecting alumni giving, recruitment of top athletes, grant awards, etc.).

The United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, in a September 2017 letter entitled “Q & A on Campus Sexual Misconduct” stated, “…In every investigation conducted under the school’s grievance procedures, the burden is on the school—not on the parties—to gather sufficient evidence to reach a fair, impartial determination as to whether sexual misconduct has occurred.”  It further states, “Whether or not a student files a complaint of alleged sexual misconduct...where the school knows or should reasonably know of an incident of sexual misconduct, the school must take steps to understand what occurred...”

The problem for colleges and universities is that they are caught in the middle of a “he said, she said” dilemma and, without verifiable documentation of the facts, are increasingly the target of lawsuits, regardless of their efforts to reach fair and equitable judgments.

“…The federal government has stepped up its civil rights enforcement in this area, with over 250 colleges and universities currently under investigation for allegedly mishandling student sexual assault complaints. At the same time, students accused of sexual assault have complained of botched processes driven by a ‘campus rape over-correction’ that denied them a fair disciplinary hearing. It is clear that schools are struggling to develop and implement policies and procedures that satisfy their legal obligations in this area.” (Source: Stanford Law School, 2017-2018 course description, “Policy Practicum: Rethinking Campus and School Title IX Policies and Procedures.”)

Settling Sexual Assault Cases Cost Universities Millions

Some college and university settlements to-date include: 

  • $2.48 Million paid by the University of Tennessee which, by one expert’s estimation, was a “good deal,” since legal fees associated with defending the university could have amounted to $5.5 Million.
  • $950,000 paid by Florida State University.
  • $800,000 paid by the University of Oregon.
  • $1.28 Million paid by the University of Connecticut.
  • An undisclosed settlement with 37 students and alumni, paid by Occidental College. 
  • $2.5 Million settlement paid by the University of Colorado.

(Source: “Tennessean,” part of the USA Today Network, July 6, 2016, Anita Wadhwani.)

The problem is clear: Colleges and universities carry substantial risk of litigation and financial liability, as well as risk of diminished standing due to sex assault claims from both alleged victims and the accused.

The solution is a system that documents whether consent was given or denied, thus minimizing the financial and public relations fallout from this serious and growing on-campus problem.

The time is right for ConsentEDU.​

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