Blog : Title IX

Amid Alleged Broomstick Hazing Ritual Scandal, Damascus High Principal Resigns, JV Football Coach & Athletic Director Placed on Leave

When a JV high school football team,  thought to be like a family, allegedly commits the tradition of “broomstick” hazing to new teammates, the story is going to draw ongoing negative media attention…

Yesterday, the principal of Damascus High School in Maryland announced her resignation as a result of the alleged October 2018 “broomstick” hazing and rape of junior varsity football team members at the school.

This announcement follows news that the Damascus High’s JV football coach, Vincent Colbert, who was reported as the first school official to know about the attack (and that the school system waited hours to alert police) was placed on leave last month as part of the ongoing investigation…and later last night, a letter to coaches announced that the athletic director was also put on leave.

This heartbreaking news of hazing and sexual assault in high school is reminiscent of the suit School Violence Law & The Fierberg National Law Group filed on behalf of the Ooltewah High School rape victim who was sodomized with a pool-cue by teammates.

Read our first Blog article regarding the Damascus alleged hazing here.

Follow the ongoing coverage at The Washington Post, WTOP  and CBS NEWS.

 

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Swarthmore College Students – Angry Over Reports of Sexual Violence and Leaked Fraternity Documents – Stage Sit-In

For 3 days, students at Swarthmore College have occupied the quarters of one of the college’s two fraternities.

The demonstration transpired after “unredacted materials” were anonymously leaked to student journalists that contained derogatory comments about women, minorities and the LGBTQ community, and jokes about sexual assault allegedly written by former members of one of Swarthmore’s fraternities – Phi Psi – whose house the students seized.

The documents labeled as “minutes” are allegedly “secondhand recaps of Phi Psi members’ activities.”

#TitleIX #itsonus #SAAM #IAsk #EROC #nomore

Read the Full Story Here.

 

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Title IX Precedent Set in U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals

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The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has denied Kansas State University’s petitions to rehear its motion to dismiss our lawsuit that claims KSU officials failed to investigate our clients’ sexual assaults.

School Violence Law and our clients have now created binding 10th Circuit precedent regarding #TitleIX.

#SAAM #IAsk ✊ 

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New study confirms that fraternity men and athletes are committing more sexual assaults than are those in the general student population

Repeat Rapists on Campus

A new study confirms that fraternity men and athletes are committing more sexual assaults than are those in the general student population — and that repeat offenders are a major problem.

 

Researchers have, many times over, confirmed a sobering fact: fraternity members tend to commit rape much more frequently than their non-Greek-life peers. They’ve also documented that serial offenders account for many campus sexual assaults.

But a new study quantifies in a staggering way the prevalence with which men in fraternities and on sports teams engage in sex crimes on campuses — and how repeat rapists are to blame for a vast majority of these incidents. The report suggests that the vast majority of assaults involving alcohol are committed by serial perpetrators.

Experts on campus sexual violence said that these new data support the idea that administrators should kick out students they’ve found responsible for rape. And, they said, it demonstrates need for more targeted education — especially among the men and groups who are committing the most sexual assaults.

Three professors — from Union University in Tennessee, Bowling Green State University and University of Redlands — used data from the Core Alcohol and Drug Survey, or CORE, developed by the Core Institute at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. The group there helps institutions figure out students’ attitudes toward drug and alcohol consumption.

The researchers looked at survey data from more than 12,600 male students at 49 colleges and universities in one Midwestern state that was not named. The institutions included in the sample were both two- and four-year colleges.

A little more than 5 percent of those men self-reported that they had committed a sexual assault when alcohol was involved. This matched other literature, which has put the percentage of college men who committed a broader range of sexual crimes between 6 and 11 percent.

Of those who sexually assaulted someone while under the influence, it was more common for them to do it again rather than just once. The researchers found that nearly 3 percent of the men in the overall study committed assault twice or more when alcohol was a factor.

“If you have a man who has been accused of sexual assault and you … find him responsible, it makes sense to expel him from the institution, not necessarily just give them educational sanctions,” said John D. Foubert, dean of the College of Education at Union and one of the report’s authors. “It’s cutting down on the rate of rape at the institution drastically.”

More significant was how many more incidents could be attributed to recurring rapists rather than one-time offenders.

The authors of the study weren’t precise with these data, given that students in the original CORE survey could report a range of how many assaults they had committed (again with alcohol involved). For instance, students could report if they assaulted someone three to five times — in this case, the researchers counted that in their report as an average of four assaults per person.

The researchers documented approximately 2,071 sexual assaults — of those, roughly 950 assaults, or about 46 percent of the incidents, were committed by students who admitted to raping 10 or more times.

S. Daniel Carter, president of Safety Advisors for Educational Campuses, which consults with colleges and universities on sexual assaults and federal policy, said this was the most striking figure.

“Removing those repeat perpetrators from the population is the only solution in my point of view,” Carter said.

As the researchers note, the men didn’t always classify their acts as rape, per se. Other studies and interviews with men have found sometimes they consider their victim saying no to be a game or a way to spice up the encounter.

Being associated with a fraternity or an athletics team also had a positive correlation with alcohol-fueled rapes, the study found. Heads of fraternities were less likely to commit alcohol-related assaults than just members. The opposite was true for sports teams — the leaders of the teams reported more assaults.

This reporter provided Todd Shelton, a spokesman for the North-American Interfraternity Conference, with a copy of the study, but Shelton said by email he did not have a chance to review it.

“I will say sexual violence has no place on any campus or in the fraternity experience,” Shelton wrote in his email. “NIC fraternities are committed to creating safer campus communities and recently adopted new health and safety guidelines including banning hard alcohol at fraternity houses and events to create a safer environment for members and guests.”

A previous study by Foubert shows that men who joined fraternities were just as likely to have committed sexual violence prior to college as men who didn’t join a fraternity. But the same study showed that fraternity men were three more likely to assault women than their counterparts, suggesting that fraternity culture was the driving factor for the assaults.

Institutions should more aggressively focus on teaching students in “high-risk” environments such as fraternities and sports teams, rather than just the general population, Foubert said. He said bystander training — educating students to intervene when they see their peers are about to commit a heinous act — has been proven to be effective. Foubert called for more research with a larger national sample, noting their information was from a single state. He said it would also be beneficial to interview directly admitted rapists to learn their motives and how they behave.

“They don’t define their behavior as rape — they sometimes define it as seduction,” Foubert said. “I think it would be helpful [to know] what their techniques are to alert women.”

Colleges and universities trying to stamp out sexual predators could learn from law enforcement efforts to prevent terrorism, said Peter F. Lake, a law professor and director of the Center for Excellence in Higher Education Law and Policy at Stetson University.

Lake used this analogy — the public shouldn’t write off fraternities in total, just as they shouldn’t consider all people of a certain race to be terrorists. Institutions should partner with fraternities to help locate bad apples in a group or the misbehaving fraternities on campus. He said many times, the fraternity members, most of whom are not raping women, don’t have the knowledge or skills to respond to “serious psychopathic behavior.”

“If you eliminate the ones that are doing that from the culture, then the culture will thrive,” Lake said.

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Recent opinion in two campus assault cases will have a far-reaching effect on Title IX claims

School Violence Law and The Fierberg National Law Group attorney Jon Fazzola represents Tessa Farmer and Sara Weckhorst in their claims against KSU – stating that the university took no further action after their assaults – thus violating their rights under #titleix.

The university filed a motion to dismiss the case, but Honorable David M. Ebel reaffirmed a 1999 SCOTUS decision that a person does not have to be raped again for the university to be in violation of Title IX…

Within days of this decision, it was used to argue a similar Michigan State University case in which 4 students claimed their Title IX rights were violated… #saam #iask End Rape on Campus RAINN NO MORE National Sexual Violence Resource Center Women’s Resource Center for the Grand Traverse Area Pave It’s On Us

Read the Full Article Here.

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Betsy DeVos’s Alma Mater Facing Title IX Case

An ensuing lawsuit filed by Michelle Hoffman, regarding the sexual assault her 15-year-old daughter by her 17-year-old boyfriend, against Holland Christian High School has turned Betsy DeVos’s private alma mater in Holland, Mich., into Exhibit A as the secretary moves to overhaul the law that governs school sexual assault — and to bolster the rights of the accused while narrowing the responsibilities that schools have to investigate sexual misconduct.

Read the NY Times article here.

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Kansas State University Can’t Dodge Our Title IX Lawsuit

Image result for kansas state title ix lawsuitA lawsuit filed against Kansas State University (KSU) by two former students who were sexually assaulted was given clearance to proceed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, which held that “Title IX does not require a subsequent sexual assault before a plaintiff can sue.”  This victory will help these women and countless women across the country use Title IX to achieve justice and compel schools to protect survivors.

The two women who brought the suit, Tessa Farmer and Sara Weckhorst, were each brutally raped by KSU students at off-campus fraternity houses.  Both reported the rapes to KSU and identified the perpetrators, one of whom is now in prison.  KSU refused to investigate or take any action against the perpetrators, allowing them to remain on campus, and justified its indifference on the basis that the rapes occurred off-campus.  Ms. Farmer and Ms. Weckhorst sued KSU for violating Title IX, alleging that KSU’s deliberate indifference made them vulnerable to further sexual harassment by the assailants.  KSU disagreed, suggesting that their fear of encountering the assailants on campus had no “basis in reality.”  The Tenth Circuit disagreed, ruling:

Plaintiffs’ allegations are quite specific and reasonable under the circumstances.  Plaintiffs allege more than a general fear of running into their assailants.  They allege that their fears have forced them to take very specific actions that deprived them of educational opportunities offered to other students.  In addition, they have alleged a pervasive atmosphere of fear at KSU of sexual assault caused by KSU’s inadequate action in these cases.  A Title IX plaintiff’s alleged fear of encountering her attacker must be objectively reasonable, but under the horrific circumstances alleged here Plaintiffs have adequately alleged that KSU’s deliberate indifference to their rape reports reasonably deprived them of educational opportunities available to other students at KSU.

“It feels so empowering to know that what Sara and I went through and the work we’re doing could potentially help people all over the country,” said Tessa Farmer.  “It’s just amazing how you can take a terrible situation and turn it into such a positive movement for change.”

Ms. Farmer and Ms. Weckhorst are represented by Jonathon Fazzola, an attorney with The Fierberg National Law Group.

About Jonathon Fazzola & The Fierberg National Law Group

Attorney Jonathon Fazzola and The Fierberg National Law Group represent victims of violence and harassment, including sexual abuse and assault, to make certain their rights are protected, and ensuring perpetrators and institutions that fail to comply with their obligations to protect victims are held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

Read the Opinion Here.

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Blind Eye Movement: Speaking Out About Sexual Abuse

Many Voices. One Message. Speaking Out About Sexual Abuse.

Join us March 2nd, 2019 from 11am to 1pm: The Fierberg National Law Group and School Violence Law is sponsoring an event where survivors of sexual abuse share their stories & local experts provide info on support, resources and legal rights for survivors and their families. #metoo #churchtoo #blindeyemovement#recognizepreventrecover #manyvoicesonemessage #victimrights #itsonus #nnedv #nsvrc #rainn

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“I Am A College Linebacker Tackling Sexual Assault: Why I Oppose The Proposed Title IX Rule Changes”

Kyle Richard Brand Contributor | Civic Nation BRANDVOICE | Dec 18, 2018, 02:26pm

Kyle Richard, senior kinesiology major at SUNY Cortland, is a guest contributor for It’s On Us.

It was July 23rd, 2017, at 2am. My friends and I were at a party when a young male attempted to sexually assault a young woman. My friend, Sulaiman Aina, and I were directly able to break it up. Moments after speaking with the victim to clarify what was happening, I immediately went to look for the perpetrator. With him still in front of the house, I went to confront him. In the process of my sticking up for the victim, the perpetrator pulled a gun out and let off three shots, two bullets tearing through each of my legs and the last one sailing past me. Thirty seconds later the perpetrator shot at my friends, who had just gotten back from the diner. My friend, Michael Abiola, was shot in his shoulder and would recover more than a year later.

The world needs to know that this is no sob story. This is a story that has promoted bystander intervention and raised sexual violence awareness for thousands of people.

In the process of my sticking up for the victim, the perpetrator pulled a gun out and let off three shots, two bullets tearing through each of my legs and the last one sailing past me.

Being a student-athlete at SUNY Cortland, my dream after the incident was simply to get back to being able to play football. Only two months of rehab and I was just good enough to get back onto that field. I did not think much of what Sulaiman and I had done that early morning in July. In my head, what had happened that night was something that most people would do. Through research and personal stories that involved active bystanders, there was a realization that we live in a toxic culture that needs change. Now I speak out, usually while wearing my Cortland Football collared shirt, at a variety of events to spread awareness. If one football player can take a stand against sexual violence, maybe another athlete will.

One classmate spreading awareness will make other classmates spread awareness. Student leaders organizing and maximizing sexual/domestic violence awareness clubs will get more people involved. Fraternity leaders holding their brothers to a higher standard to treat people with respect. These should all be considered forms of bystander intervention in relationship with this toxic culture.

Now I speak out, usually while wearing my Cortland Football collared shirt, at a variety of events to spread awareness.

It is important for young men to fight against sexual assault, because the overwhelming majority of perpetrators are “male.” (I use male, not men, when describing perpetrators because I believe being a man means treating people with respect). Since we young men are so close to the root of the problem, we can be major leaders in changing rape culture. My message to athletes and other young men is that by standing up for somebody, known or random, you can become a hero in a person’s life. Be the person who tells somebody if there is no consent, there is no sex. Be the person who speaks out for campus safety.

That’s why I know the proposed rule changes to Title IX are disastrous—and something young men like myself have a responsibility to speak out against. Since joining the Trump administration in 2017 Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her team have claimed these changes to Title IX are intended to protect young men on campus. But I know—and young men all across this nation know—that these changes are really intended to sweep campus sexual assault under the rug and reduce the liability of colleges. We won’t be pawns in Sec. DeVos’s game. We will speak out against these changes.

Her plan to make off-campus incidents non-investigable, by the school the perpetrator and/or the victim attend, is unacceptable. In order to hold their perpetrators accountable, victims would have to face their perpetrators through live hearings. Meanwhile, their perpetrators will roam freely on campus until the misconduct investigation is completed. Victims already have trouble receiving justice. With the proposed Title IX rule changes, perpetrators will be more protected than ever before. We should be looking to support and believe the victims, not hurt them.

If you’re reading this go ahead and leave a comment that the department of education must read and respond to by visiting ItsOnUs.org/TitleIX. Help stop these rule changes!

Kyle Richard is an advocate for sexual violence prevention and bystander intervention. He works in connection with It’s On Us in the SUNY Cortland chapter. He is a senior kinesiology major at SUNY Cortland. Kyle has spoken at several educational institutions such as Stevens Institute of Technology, Cortland High School, Utica College, SUNY Cortland, Fashion Institute of Technology, etc.

 

Full Article Here

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