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The 2011 Department of Education “Dear Colleague” letter shifted responsibility for adjudicating sexual assault cases to campus disciplinary committees. Three years later, it has become clear that these panels are inadequate to the task of investigating and adjudicating complex allegations of sexual assault. Now, a growing number of lawsuits are being filed by both men and women alleging violations of the federal Title IX law, due process, and other legal requirements.
On one hand, numerous persons claiming to be victims of sexual assault have filed lawsuits alleging mishandling of their complaints. One of the most-publicized complaints, filed by 50 students and faculty against Occidental College in California, resulted in an out-of-court settlement in 2013. Earlier this year a group of Harvard students filed a federal complaint calling for stronger sexual assault measures. Likewise, a growing number of persons claiming to have been falsely accused and/or wrongfully suspended or expelled have taken legal action.
From 2006-2010, 262 claims were filed, resulting in $36 million in losses to cover payments to claimants and associated legal fees:
Number of Claims Average Loss per Claim Total Losses
Accusers 121 $83,471 $10.1 million
Accused 141 $183,688 $25.9 million
Total 262 $36.0 million
Database of Lawsuits Against Colleges and Universities Alleging Due Process and Other Violations in Adjudicating Sexual Assault