Sexual Assault on Campus: Guiding Students Through the Legal Minefield October 12, 2015

By Susan C. Stone and Kristina W. Supler

When most people recall memories of high school or college, they fondly reminisce of friends, fun and building a future. Unfortunately, not all high school and college experiences are positive. There is growing concern over sexual assault, which is seemingly becoming more prevalent in high schools and on college campuses.

The recent St. Paul’s case and decision highlights the issues that both the victim and accused face during a sexual assault investigation and trial.  During this experience, the reputation and future of all involved are at risk and the legal intricacies facing the families are complicated.

The victim in a sexual assault case may have to work through many legal obstacles when pursuing his or her case on campus.  These victims need help filing a Title IX action on campus while also working with the authorities in the criminal prosecution of the case.  Understanding how to navigate through both systems requires mutual understanding of education and criminal law.

The accused in a sexual assault case may face severe legal consequences in addition to public scrutiny, especially in cases involving minors. And while many only consider the actions of legal advocates in a trial setting, their services are also necessary to help the accused navigate the months or even years leading up to a trial, as well as later addressing their future educational needs.

In the wake of the infamous Rolling Stone article, the rights of the accused in sexual assault cases seem to be eroding. Colleges and universities may vote for academic separation or expulsion even before a determination of guilt has been made in the legal system.  But, a supposedly “clear cut” case may not be that simple, so a person accused of sexual assault should make it a top priority to secure effective legal counsel to protect his or her interests both at trial and in school to ensure that his or her constitutional rights are not violated.

While high profile cases such as the St. Paul’s case come and go, the reality is that sexual assault on college campuses and in schools is escalating.  A recent New York Times article brings to light the results of a study reporting that 1 in 4 women have experienced some kind of unwanted sexual contact since entering college. Conduct once considered juvenile or harmless may now constitute criminal conduct, leaving victims of sexual assault in need of an effective advocate to guide them through the legal process and ensure that the appropriate no contact orders and discipline are put in place to guarantee their safety, as well as arrange any accommodations necessary to ensure their grades do not plummet during the stress of a Title IX or criminal matter.

At McCarthy Lebit, you will find the unique experience to protect your particular interest in a sexual assault case.  Susan Stone, the head of the Education Practice Group, has built a career on defending and assisting in the filing of Title IX actions. Susan has successfully navigated Title IX actions throughout the country. In particular, she has represented both the victim and the accused, who need her sensitivity to Title IX matters. She collaborates with Kristina Supler, one of the firm’s premier criminal defense attorneys. Kristina focuses her practice on complex criminal matters involving sexual offenses in courts. She also has extensive experience defending cybercrime prosecuted in federal court. Together they have the combined experience in education and criminal law necessary to effectively advocate sexual assault cases in educational institutions and courts. The reality is that sexual assault is a very real issue in today’s society, and no one should be without a legal advocate in their time of need.

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