In April of 2014 the White House launched an investigation into the underreporting of sexual assaults on college and university campuses. The inquiry produced a rash of national media exposure to the issues. On May 26, 2014, Time magazine had a red college pendant on the cover with "Rape" across it.
Ultimately, in September of 2014, President Obama started the " It's On Us" Initiative to combat the underreporting, or non-reporting, of incidents amongst college students. The President's initial announcement of the program was bolstered by a YouTube video containing a series of stars, including Jon Hamm and Kerry Washington, among them, to create a vast amount of public awareness.
The issue really picked up steam, even changing the laws in California, when Governor Jerry Brown signed "SB-967" into law, which changed "no means no" into "yes means yes." Essentially, silence or not resisting does not equate to consent. However, consent does not have to be a verbal remark such as "yes," but could be a nod in agreement or other physical gestures made on behalf of the other person, indicating acceptance of the act. I appreciate that legislatures want to prove that they are working to protect young adults, but the burden that it places on the fact finder trying to investigate these he said, she said (or some variation thereof) is immense.
This issue has staying power, as well it should. CBS Sunday Morning's lead story this past weekend dealt with the topic. It should be a prominent topic of conversation on campuses in particular and the public at large.
So, the question becomes, what types of legislation and/or university policies need to be implemented that can be fair to the accuser and the accused? Who is going to author these policies? More importantly, who is going to be tasked with reviewing the complaints, handing down sanctions, and forever affecting those involved? Just recently, Rolling Stone Magazine did a story alleging a gang rape at a fraternity house on the campus of the University of Virginia. However, as the weeks went on and more investigative work was done, the accusations seemed to have been discredited. Now, these types of allegations are very severe and need to be investigated. However, if you are on the other side of this type of scenario, how safe do you feel that you, or your loved one, will be protected? In today's climate there is an immediate urgency to rush to judgment against both sides of the equation. Time is of the essence, and a proactive approach to defense has to be taken.
At the Law Offices of Christopher G. Thomarios I have dealt with many cases related to university students, both for academic dishonesty, and allegations of sexual assault. It is imperative that you contact me as soon as an issue arises. Most university systems move very quickly at the beginning and your school's internal judicial process can take place in less than a week. Statements will be made that could potentially be used against you in further civil, or even worse, criminal proceedings. Most times your disciplinary hearing will also be recorded, it is vital that you meet with an attorney to determine how to handle yourself in such an environment.
I have dealt with many of the area colleges and universities and know their processes. Please call me immediately for a consultation.