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Tufts University and Harvard University Face Government Scrutiny for Sexual Assault Cases

Tufts University and Harvard University are facing harsh criticism from government officials for their procedures of handling sex assault cases on their campuses.

On Monday the U.S. Department of Education found that Tufts University has not been complying with federal rules on how colleges should address sexual assaults, and stated that the university needs to do more “to ensure the safety of more than 10,000 students” at the school. The case stems from a complaint filed in 2010 by a woman who accused Tufts mishandled her sexual assault allegations. According to a federal investigation, Tufts waited nearly six months before it launched its own investigation of the woman’s complaint, and did not offer the victim appropriate options; including offering to have her move out of the dormitory where she and the accused lived and still requiring the young woman to attend a leadership class alongside her assailant or else face removal from the program.

According to WCVB.com, a Tufts spokesperson said that the school has been working closely with the Department of Education and is “shocked it has been declared out of compliance with Title IX, a federal law that prohibits sexual discrimination and affects education funding.” The school is at risk of losing its federal funding if it does not reach an agreement with the education department’s Office of Civil Rights.

On Tuesday of this week, a White House task force on sexual assault is expected to recommend that schools identify trained, confidential victim’s advocates and conduct surveys to better gauge the frequency of sexual assault on their campuses Harvard University is also facing scrutiny after federal investigators launched separate investigations against the Ivy League school as well as dozens of other schools for allegedly creating hostile environments for sexual assault victims.

Tufts University and Harvard University are just two of more than 50 schools across the United States who are currently under investigation for mishandling sexual abuse complaints. Last fall, Emerson College in Boston came faced a similar investigation and criticism after a group of students filed a complaint with the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights alleging the college downplayed and failed to fully investigate at least two separate sexual assault incidents. They also accused Emerson of violating their rights under Title IX and the Clery Act, which states that:

” If a school or its employees knows or reasonably should know about sexual harassment (including sexual violence), the school must take immediate action to eliminate the sexual harassment, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects, even if the victim does not want to file a complaint.”

Sexual assaults on college campuses continue to be a growing problem. According to a report released in January 2014 by the White House, 1 in 5 female college students have been the victim of sexual assault, yet only 1 in 8 will report it.

Sexual abuse is a serious crime typically handled by law enforcement, yet what many victims do not realize is that aside from filing criminal charges against their attacker, they may also be eligible to file a civil claim against the perpetrator or institution employing the perpetrator. In reference to the above mentioned cases, this means that the schools at which the alleged attackers are enrolled have the responsibility to thoroughly investigate the incidents and administer the necessary disciplinary action.

At the law firm of Altman & Altman, LLP, though our attorneys do not prosecute offenders for crimes, we may be able to counsel victims and their families who wish to file a claim for compensation due to the abuse. Often, victims believe it is impossible to collect compensation against their attacker since the abuser may have little or no assets. However there are instances where parties who did not play an active part in the abuse will be civilly liable because they had a duty to investigate the incident and administer appropriate punishment, or they did not do their duty to prevent the incident. Cases like this may go in conjunction with negligent security cases.

If you or a loved one was the victim of a sexual crime, call the law offices of Altman & Altman to discuss your rights with an experienced Boston Civil Litigation Attorney. Our experienced team of civil litigation attorneys understands the hardships victims and their families face after this type of incident, and we will stand by your side throughout the entire process and aggressively pursue your lawsuit against all liable parties. In addition to the outstanding legal counsel you will receive, our firm has access to some of the finest psychological and medical professionals in the Commonwealth. We have represented hundreds of individuals and have recovered millions of dollars in settlements, claims, and jury awards on behalf of our clients. Our attorneys are available around the clock to answer any questions you have about your case, and all initial consultations are free and completely confidential.

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