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Getting sexually assaulted while at school can be traumatizing for students trying to get a college education. Unfortunately, depending on the circumstances of your assault, your university may have few reporting requirements.
Colleges and universities don’t have to forward reports of sexual assault to the police. In fact, many schools choose to handle these situations internally without involving law enforcement. That said, colleges do have to forward reports of sexual assault to their Title IX coordinators. Failure to report an assault, or intentionally impeding the reporting process for students, violates your Title IX rights to an education free from sex-based discrimination. If your school fails to forward your reports of sexual assault to the necessary parties, you can file a lawsuit for a Title IX violation.
Our lawyers are dedicated to helping sexual assault survivors get the justice they deserve. For a free case evaluation with the sexual assault victim attorneys at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin, call today at (814) 826-3586.
Does Your University Have to Report Your Sexual Assault to the Police?
It may surprise some sexual assault survivors to learn that universities do not have a responsibility to report instances of assault to law enforcement authorities. In general, that benefits universities, not survivors.
When you inform your university of a sexual assault that happened on campus, it has no obligation to then report your sexual assault to the police. This can create challenges for survivors, as universities and colleges tend to prefer to handle cases of sexual assault internally. In the event that a college student is under 18, reporting a sexual assault to the police may be mandatory. However, because most college students are adults, it is up to them whether or not to report a sexual assault to the police, not their university.
Again, universities generally do not want to involve law enforcement in school sexual assault cases. So, in addition to not having to report a sexual assault to the police, a college likely will not want to inform law enforcement agencies. Colleges may also discourage students from reporting to the police. If that happens, inform a sexual assault victim attorney. In no case should the college ever go so far as to obstruct a police investigation or try to cover up a crime.
This can be shocking for students, who may believe that a university would rather keep its students safe than protect its image. Unfortunately, not having to inform law enforcement of sexual assault is preferred by many universities, which can keep instances of sexual assault on campus out of the public eye.
Do Universities Have to Report Sexual Assault Under Title IX?
Although your school has no legal obligation to report your sexual assault to law enforcement agencies, it is responsible for sending any student reports of assault to its Title IX coordinator. This is the case, even if you don’t file a formal report of sexual assault.
Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, sex-based discrimination at school, which includes sexual assault, is prohibited. If you are sexually assaulted by a teacher or student on your college campus, that is in violation of your Title IX rights. Upon learning of a sexual assault on campus, universities are required to forward any reports to a Title IX coordinator.
Any public or private college that receives federal funding must comply with Title IX. If that applies to your school, then your university must have a Title IX coordinator. This individual is responsible for reviewing all reports of sex-based discrimination at your school, including sexual assault.
In addition to forwarding reports of sexual assault to a Title IX coordinator, colleges and universities must make their Title IX coordinator’s names and contact information available to students. Colleges must inform a Title IX coordinator of sexual assault, even if a student does not file an official complaint. Schools must also inform students on their procedures for reporting sexual assault to a Title IX coordinator. If your university did not provide a Title IX coordinator’s information upon request or made the reporting process difficult for you, speak to a sexual assault victim attorney immediately. Impeding your ability to report your sexual assault is in violation of your Title IX rights.
Can You Sue a University for Failing to Report Your Sexual Assault?
If your university does not forward a report of sexual assault to its Title IX coordinator, whether you requested it to or not, you can file a lawsuit. Students who have been sexually assaulted on campus can also sue for other reasons, not limited to a school’s failure to report.
Any college or university that receives federal funding must report possible cases of sexual assault to a Title IX coordinator. This is the case even if a victim does not wish to file a formal complaint against an abuser. If you speak to a school administrator about sexual assault, and they fail to forward your report, you can hold your university responsible in a lawsuit.
While failing to report sexual assault to a school’s Title IX coordinator is in violation of your rights, it is not the only reason you can file a lawsuit. Under Title IX, schools have a responsibility to their students to maintain a safe environment free from sex-based discrimination. Because of this, colleges and universities must have safeguards in place to prevent sexual assault on campus. If your school failed to uphold its responsibilities to you, speak to a sexual assault victim attorney. You may be able to hold a school responsible for your sexual assault.
Students may inform a college official of a sexual assault and their intent to file a report with their school’s Title IX coordinator. If a teacher or college administration attempts to silence or threaten a student before or after they file a Title IX complaint, that’s considered retaliation and an additional violation of the student’s Title IX rights.
Unless you were under 18 when sexually assaulted on a college campus, you typically can’t sue a school for failing to report your sexual assault to the police. If your university actively discouraged you from reporting to the police, that’s another story. In general, students can file a lawsuit if their college does not uphold its Title IX obligations toward them.
Ask Our Attorneys About Suing Your University for Sexual Assault
If you were sexually assaulted at school, you may have a case against your university. For a free case evaluation with the sexual assault victim attorneys at The Law Office of Andrew Shubin, call today at (814) 826-3586.