The fall semester has only just begun and already throughout the country, police have been called to college campuses to investigate reports of sexual assault.
Given how frequently cases of sexual assault are reported, it can come as no surprise that a recent survey of students entering their freshman year showed that more than half of those students fear being sexually assaulted during their college career. Those who responded that they were worried were both male and female and almost all of them were concerned that the person assaulting them would be another student.
Sadly, many of these freshmen will be sexually assaulted and will have to live through their worst fears. In fact, in the first two weeks of classes, several assaults have already occurred.
According to police reports, officers were called to a dormitory on August 31st, 2017 to investigate a sexual assault. It was determined that the student met her assailant through a dating app and then met in person for the first time. It was during this first meeting that the assault occurred.
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In Huntington, West Virginia, two students have reported being sexually assaulted in their residence halls. The police believe the two incidents are unrelated and have confirmed that one of the suspects is another student. But despite their assurances that there isn’t a serial rapist on campus, students are still scared and many have admitted to carrying pepper spray and Tasers.
On Tuesday, August 29th, 2017, a female student reported to campus authorities that an 18-year-old male had assaulted her in her dorm. The police have not yet made an arrest.
These are just a few of the reports that have been made in a matter of two weeks.
The Tab, which is a site that covers college culture and who works with writers from all over the country, released a report which mapped the sexual crimes which have been reported at Cornell University. Not only did the map provide the locations of the incidents, but it also provided a timeline which showed that around 45% of the sexual crimes occurred during August and September, the first two months of the fall semester.
While nothing can change what has happened, the victims of these heinous crimes do have legal rights.
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While criminal charges may help the victim feel safe and that justice has been served, the criminal court will never provide the victim with any sort of compensation for the horror they have lived through.
A civil lawsuit, which is completely separate from any criminal charges, may provide the plaintiff with compensation for medical treatments they have had to undergo because of the assault, physical pain and suffering, emotional trauma, and even lost wages. While it is possible to file against their attacker, in some cases, the victim can also pursue legal action against another party whose negligence contributed to the assault.
A woman who chose to remain anonymous filed a lawsuit against Baylor University after she was gang-raped by two football players. In her complaint, she alleged that the University had “fostered a culture of violence”. She claimed that the university knew of at least 52 rapes that were committed by 30 football players but that the school cared more about its athletic program than it did the victims. In her own personal case, the plaintiff noted that even though her rape took place in 2013, charges weren’t filed against the two players who attacked her until March of 2017.
The details of the settlement have not been disclosed, but her attorney reported that “She feels really grateful to resolve the case.”