Fighting for Women's Equality

Published Case Will Protect Student Survivors of Sexual Assault

July 25, 2019 | by

In a move that will help student survivors of sexual assault across the country, today a California appellate court granted ERA’s request to publish an important case ensuring the rights of student survivors in Title IX proceedings.

The Court of Appeal for the 2nd Appellate District has published Doe v. Occidental College, a recent case which confirms that the rights of survivors are just as important as the rights of respondents in Title IX sexual misconduct proceedings. This will help ensure that survivors are protected from re-traumatization during Title IX hearings, such as being directly cross-examined by the respondent or their attorney.

The case also says courts cannot reassess the credibility of survivors and their witnesses after they were determined to be credible by the hearing officer. 

Publication is crucial, because it means the case can now be cited by lawyers across the country who are representing student survivors and fighting for their rights. Lawyers cannot cite cases that are unpublished. 

“Victim-blaming and not being believed are some of the worst things survivors face in these cases, and this decision ensures that once a hearing officer determines a survivor to be credible, that survivor’s credibility will not be questioned again,” said Equal Rights Advocates Senior Litigation Attorney Brenda Adams, who led the effort for publication of the case. “This is essential to ensuring victims are not re-traumatized by a process meant to protect them, not cause them further harm. With recent decisions swinging the pendulum of justice in the direction of further victimization, this decision gives survivors hope.”

Read our letter requesting publication to learn more about the importance of this case.

Want to support student survivors? Tell lawmakers to support a bill in California that will protect their rights.



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