CALL US 24/7 AT 203-946-2000

Title IX & Student Conduct Code Blog

Duffy Law

Did a Professor Sexually Assault You Years Ago?

In the wake of a sexual assault, many victims stay quiet and do not report the assault. This is especially true if an assailant was a person in an authority position, such as a professor or coach at a college or university. Victims may fear retaliation in the form of failing grades, poor recommendations, or other adverse actions by professors, so they decide not to say anything about what happened. Even if students reported a sexual assault to their school administration, the way schools handle such allegations has significantly changed in recent years. If the report was made in the 1980s or 1990s, it’s likely that a school may have swept the allegation under the rug, making a victim feel even more helpless.

However, the recent #MeToo movement has encouraged sexual assault and harassment victims to come forward and tell their storiesand academia has felt the effects of this movement, as well.

The lawyers at Duffy Law are listening. If you suffered from sexual harassment or assault at the hands of school faculty, call us now at (203) 946-2000.

Criminal Charges

Many people have reported instances of inappropriate behavior, including sexual assault, by a professor or coach. A survey was conducted online in which victims could anonymously report such misconduct, called “Sexual Harassment in the Academy: A Crowdsource Survey.” From December 2017 to March 2018, more than 2,400 persons have reported instances of harassment, many of which involved groping, rape, or other forms of sexual assault. Two women came forward with rape allegations against two former Stanford professors—one from the 1984-85 academic year and another from 2000. Such reports lead to the question: what are your legal options after years of silence?

Many people expect criminal charges to be issued against anyone who has been accused of sexual assault—even if it’s years after the reported crime occurred. However, there may be a statute of limitations at issue that may prohibit the prosecution of the alleged offender. Each state has its own statutes of limitations for sex crimes and after a statute of limitations has expired, the accused can no longer face criminal charges. Whether this is an issue in your case depends on where the sexual assault happened.

For example, Kentucky has no statutes of limitations for any felony sex offender cases, while most states still have statutes of limitations for some felony sex offenses, which can range from five years to more than 21 years. There are also some exceptions for cases involving DNA evidence or victims who were minors. You will need to check out the law in a specific state for a specific crime to be sure of what timelines apply in your case. Be aware that these laws can change, as Connecticut is considering options to extend or eliminate the statute of limitations for certain felony sex crimes.

Title IX Complaint

Another option may be to file a Title IX complaint with the school at which you were assaulted, even if you are no longer a student there. Different schools have different policies and procedures for handling such claims. However, most schools contend that if a professor is still employed by the college or university, the institution will still have jurisdiction to handle a Title IX complaint.

Civil Lawsuits

The law allows sexual assault victims to seek civil remedies for the harm they suffered, as well. Filing a personal injury lawsuit provides the opportunity to seek compensation for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and more. However, each state also has a strict statute of limitations for injury actions. If years have passed, you may be outside of the statute of limitations and this may no longer be an option.

Contact an Experienced Title IX Attorney to Discuss Your Options

Getting the courage to speak up about a sexual assault by a professor years ago can be difficult and emotional. It can be frustrating if you cannot identify your legal rights in this situation. The experienced legal team at Duffy Law can evaluate your circumstances and advise you of any possible options in your case. Call (203) 946-2000 or contact us online to get started on your case today.

Felice Duffy

author bio profile image

Attorney At Duffy Law

Attorney Felice Duffy served as an Assistant United States Attorney for ten years after beginning her legal career at two prestigious firms (one in CT and one in NY) and then clerking for two federal judges. A life-long Title IX advocate, she brought a legal action under the then-new Title IX statute against UCONN while an undergraduate to compel the creation of its women’s varsity soccer program. She went on to become a first-team Division I All-American, was selected to be on the first U.S. National Women’s Team, and spent 10 years as Head Coach of the Yale women's soccer team. Attorney Duffy has Ph.D. in Education/Sports Psychology and has spoken to, and conducted trainings for, over 50 schools and organizations on a wide range of topics involving athletics, the law, and social justice. You can reach Felice at (203) 946-2000.