| Read Time: < 1 minute | Sexual Assault

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

At Cory Watson, we’re constantly supporting survivors of sexual assault by fighting for them in the courtroom. This month, National Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Cory Watson Attorneys is “going teal” to recognize and support the survivors of sexual assault. Join us today by standing in solidarity with sexual assault survivors. We believe you and support you! The emotional impact of sexual assault is felt long after physical scars heal. Research shows that sexual assault and the trauma survivors experience can cause psychological consequences throughout the survivor’s life. It is important for survivors of sexual assault to know that help is available and they do have a voice. At Cory Watson Attorneys, we provide survivors with a voice and are committed to giving survivors of sexual assault the confidence they need to speak up and seek the justice they deserve. Justice includes holding the assailants accountable and securing compensation for survivors and the families of sexual assault victims. If you or a loved one were the victim of sexual abuse or assault, contact us today to take the first steps toward justice. Call (877) 562-0000 or fill out our free online evaluation form to get started now. All information you submit will remain confidential, and the initial conversation is free.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Sexual Assault

More Than 180 Women Have Reported Sexual Assaults at Massage Envy

Many people visit Massage Envy, the largest chain of massage franchises in the country, for relaxing spa treatments. Now, customers say what they got instead was sexual assault. More than 180 women across the country have filed lawsuits, according to to police reports and state board complaints against Massage Envy. Many customer claim that their sexual assault allegations were mishandled or ignored by franchise managers, owners, and the national corporation. “This behavior is way out of line, and customers don’t have to put up with it,” said attorney G. Rick DiGiorgio. “It’s difficult for victims to come forward, but the odds are high that the perpetrator is molesting other people too. It’s mainly about deterrence and prevention. The only way to put a stop to it is to come forward.” Sexual Misconduct by Massage Therapists Sexual assault is devastating to its victims, and those who have suffered are often fearful of reporting the incident for a number of reasons: Fearing their accusations will not be taken seriously Denial of the severity of what took place Discomfort with the entire situation Embarrassment about the event Damage done by sexual assault is not just physical; oftentimes, the mental and emotional impact of the attack continues for many years or even a lifetime. The lawyers at Cory Watson Attorneys know how to help victims of sexual assault, and understand how important it is for them to get justice. “We’ve had experience with sexual misconduct allegations against massage therapists. If management doesn’t do anything about it, victims can come to us from across the country to get help,” said DiGiorgio. According to an investigation by BuzzFeed News, Massage Envy does not require franchisees to notify police of sexual assault claims except where it is required by state law. Instead, the company requires an internal investigation. Take Legal Action Against Massage Envy Perpetrators of sexual assault must be held accountable, and those in a position of authority who fail to protect those in their care must also be held responsible for what happens on their watch. Our lawyers will treat you with the utmost respect and dignity while we build your case, always acting in your best interest. We are committed to holding perpetrators and the institutions that protect them accountable for their actions. If you or a loved one was a victim of sexual assault by a Massage Envy employee, contact us today to take the first steps toward justice. Call (877) 562-0000 now or fill out our free online evaluation form to get started now. All information you submit will remain confidential, and our initial consultations are free. About Cory Watson Attorneys Cory Watson Attorneys is a national personal injury law firm with more than 3 Billion in recoveries for our clients. Attorneys are frequently appointed to leadership positions in national cases involving pharmaceuticals and defective medical devices. Practice areas include product liability, class actions, mass torts, pharmaceutical litigation, wrongful death, asbestos, mesothelioma, car accidents, truck accidents, catastrophic injury, aviation, recalled products, and environmental litigation. Cory Watson Attorneys is based in Birmingham, Alabama.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Sexual Assault

What Are My Rights? A Guide for Title IX Survivors of Campus Adjudication Procedures

Every federally funded university must comply with the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX. Under Title IX, your university must issue a policy against sexual assault, adopt and publicize grievance procedures, and have a designated Title IX coordinator to assist you and investigate your complaint. REPORTING RIGHTS You have the right to report your claim to the Title IX coordinator. The university has an obligation to provide you with options for formal and informal measures that can be taken. If you ask for your complaint to not be pursued or request confidentiality, your school must take all reasonable investigative steps to respond to the complaint consistent with your confidentiality requests. You have the right to be provided accommodations by your university under Title IX. The university must clearly identify where you can obtain confidential support services such as advocacy and counseling. You have the right to be protected against retaliation from your school, assailant, or others for reporting sexual misconduct. You have the right to file a formal complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). INVESTIGATION RIGHTS The university must conduct a prompt, impartial, and thorough investigation and must take appropriate steps to resolve the situation regardless of whether a formal complaint is made. The university must take reasonable, prompt, and effective action to end the harassment and prevent it from happening again to you or others. You have the right to necessary interim protective measures during the investigation process. You have the right to sources of counseling, advocacy, and support. You have the right to review your assailant’s statement after you make a claim. You have the right to have an advocate or support person attend hearings with you. You have the right to be promptly notified of the outcome of the university’s investigation and of any punishments imposed that directly relate to you such as a no-contact order. You have the unequivocal right to appeal your case. Your university must properly investigate and resolve any allegations of sexual assault. Appropriate steps taken by the university should be tailored to the specific nature and circumstances of your case. However, every school is different and has great discretion in its procedures. It is important that you review your school’s Title IX policies and procedures, which you can obtain from your school’s website or Title IX office, so you fully understand your school’s Title IX process and their responsibility to you. WE’RE HERE FOR YOU 24/7 At Cory Watson Attorneys, we have made it our mission to fight for the rights of injury victims and their families for more than 30 years, and have recovered over 3 Billion for clients. Call (877) 562-0000 or fill out our online form to arrange for your FREE and CONFIDENTIAL case evaluation.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Sexual Assault

How Case Law Impacts Title IX

Sexual assault survivors across the country are filing Title IX lawsuits in a brave pursuit to hold their universities accountable. Through Title IX lawsuits, survivors inspire discussion and prompt positive changes in legislation and schools Title IX policies and procedures. To establish a Title IX claim in a civil lawsuit against a university the claimant must prove four elements: (1) the school must be a Title IX funding recipient; (2) an “appropriate person” must have actual knowledge of the harassment the plaintiff alleges occurred; (3) the school must act with deliberate indifference to known acts of harassment in its programs or activities; and (4) the discrimination must be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively bars access to an equal opportunity to education. A complainant must show the school acted with deliberate indifference by proving that a school official with the ability to take corrective measures had actual notice of sexual harassment or an assault, and acted with conscious or reckless disregard. In other words, to bring a viable claim against the university, the plaintiff must prove that the school acted with utter disregard for known acts of sexual harassment or assaultive behavior. Title IX has significantly evolved since President Richard Nixon first signed it into law in 1972. The original statute failed to even mention “sexual harassment.” It was not until 1977 in Alexander v. Yale University that Title IX was used in sexual harassment claims against a university. Five female law students filed a civil lawsuit after Yale refused to consider their sexual harassment complaints against male faculty. Although the women did not ultimately win their case, the school initiated a grievance procedure for survivors. This case established that sexual harassment of female students was considered “sex discrimination” as defined under Title IX. In addition, the case encouraged other universities to implement Title IX policies and procedures for sexual assault survivors. In 1992 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Franklin v. Gwinnett County Public Schools that money damages could be awarded to survivors of sexual harassment under Title IX. The school was held liable for a coach’s sexually harassing behavior towards a student. In a groundbreaking 1999 case, the Court addressed Title IX student-on-student sexual harassment in Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education. The court found a school liable where officials were on notice and repeatedly ignored ongoing sexual misconduct among two fifth grade students. This rule extended to federally funded schools across the country as the court found a Title IX violation amounting to deliberate indifference. Today many schools have Title IX complaints filed against them due to their burying and mishandling of cases. Cases involving college athletes have brought great publicity to institutional cover-ups as schools attempt to protect their athletic programs and funding while pushing student rights aside. Lawsuits involving star athletes like former Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston have garnered media attention and created public discourse. Schools like Florida State have been held responsible for prioritizing their star athletes over the survivor.[1] Regardless of the status of the assailant, if the university does not follow appropriate policies and procedures to properly investigate and accommodate the survivor as required under Title IX, the school may be held liable. Without case law establishing survivors’ legal rights and schools’ responsibilities to their students, survivors would be left without the justice they deserve. More survivors are encouraged to come forward and seek recourse against their university without fear of retaliation. Likewise, by initiating Title IX lawsuits more schools are held accountable for their improper Title IX policies, procedures, and investigations. As universities throughout the country are forced to strengthen their Title IX policies, schools are held accountable when they fall short of Title IX requirements. Although the “deliberate indifference” standard under Title IX is a difficult standard for claimants to prove against the university, case law empowers survivors to seek action against their university to increase awareness and transparency on college campuses. Through numerous cases entering courthouses, the laws continue to evolve, bringing justice and aid for survivors while holding schools accountable under Title IX. WE’RE HERE FOR YOU 24/7 At Cory Watson Attorneys, we have made it our mission to fight for the rights of injury victims and their families for more than 30 years, and have recovered over 3 Billion for our clients. Call (877) 562-0000 or fill out our online form to arrange for your FREE and CONFIDENTIAL case evaluation. [1]  Complaint at 3, Kinsman v. The Florida State Univ. Bd. of Trustees, No. 4:15-cv-235 (N.D. Fla. Apr. 28, 2015); Edwin Rios and Madison Pauly, This Explosive Lawsuit Could Change How Colleges Deal With Athletes Accused of Sexual Assault, Mother Jones, (Mar. 3, 2016).

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Sexual Assault

Georgia Campus Rape Bill: Leaving Sexual Assault Investigations to Law Enforcement

Georgia legislators are considering House Bill 71 that would bring major changes to how campus sexual assaults are investigated. Current state and federal laws permit student survivors to decide whether to report the sexual assault to law enforcement or their university. The proposed bill takes away survivors’ rights as university investigation and disciplinary processes cannot proceed without first involving law enforcement. No existing laws require university employees to report conversations about sexual assault with student survivors to law enforcement. The proposed bill significantly alters survivors’ rights as it includes a mandate that university employees and staff report instances of sexual assault regardless of whether the survivor wishes to report to police. The only privileged conversations protected under the proposed law are those with certain licensed mental health professionals and attorneys. Under Title IX schools are required to supply provisional measures to ensure the survivor’s safety. House Bill 71 will prevent the school from conducting its own investigation and preclude initial protective measures and accommodations for the survivor. Consequently, university disciplinary hearings, including Title IX hearings, would only take place after a criminal investigation is underway. Supporters of House Bill 71 say schools are not well equipped to handle sexual assault investigations and that it should be left to up to law enforcement. However, the university is in the best position to provide necessary accommodations for their students like implementing no-contact orders, extensions on assignments, dorm changes, suspension, and expulsion without involving police authorities. Survivors want to feel protected and supported by their school, but under House Bill 71 all felonies would be treated equally without considering the sensitive nature and complexity of sexual assault cases. Student survivors often first report their sexual assault through a conversation with a close friend, advisor, professor, or school counselor. More comfortable with the university’s inquiry and disciplinary process, survivors frequently choose to report to their school. Many survivors want to forego the intrusive criminal investigation as the process can take years and rarely ends in a conviction. This bill would take away survivors’ right to seek protections from their university without their case entering the criminal justice system. House Bill 71 would strip survivors of their voice. Survivors may be less likely to report their assault out of fear that they would be sent to the police. After experiencing such a traumatic event, survivors should feel encouraged and empowered to report their sexual assault—no matter who they report to. As state legislators attempt to protect the rights of student survivors and the accused, the laws must consider the critical duties under Title IX to ensure that student survivors continue to receive accommodations and support from their universities. WE’RE HERE FOR YOU 24/7 At Cory Watson Attorneys, we have made it our mission to fight for the rights of injury victims and their families for more than 30 years, and have recovered over 3 Billion for our clients. Call (877) 562-0000 or fill out our online form to arrange for your FREE and CONFIDENTIAL case evaluation.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Sexual Assault

What You Should Never Say to a Sexual Assault Survivor

A sexual assault is never the fault of the survivor. It takes great courage for a survivor to speak about a sexual assault or reach out for help, and they should always be believed and supported. Sometimes it is hard to find the right words to say, but there are some things you should never say to a survivor of sexual assault. 1. “What were you wearing?” 2. “Were you drunk?” Short skirts, alcohol, and flirty behavior are never the cause of sexual assault.  The only cause of sexual assault? The rapist. These questions are not only presumptuous, but blame the survivor for what happened to them, and it is never their fault. 3. “Why didn’t you report it?” Survivors have different reasons for not going to the police. After such a traumatic experience, reporting the incident is not always the first thing on the survivor’s mind. Many survivors are hesitant to come forward to authorities and others may just want to focus on moving forward instead of reliving the assault. Either way, it is the survivor’s decision on whether and when to report the assault. 4. “Why didn’t you stop them or say no?” Everyone processes a traumatic event differently. Someone may be unable to speak due to fear, incapacitation, or shock. Additionally, a survivor may have in fact said no, and they were ignored by their assailant. 5. “You were in a relationship, so it’s not rape.” The assailant is often someone the person knows or may even be their significant other. Even if the person knows their attacker, it does not mean that sexual contact was consensual. Rape and other forms of sexual assault can occur even when the survivor had previously consented to a sexual relationship. The existence of any consensual relationship, whether in the past or at the time of the assault, should never be used to justify or minimize unwanted sexual contact. Every survivor’s experience is different and every survivor should be empowered and supported when they choose to share their story. Each survivor should simply be told: I HEAR YOU. I BELIEVE YOU. I SUPPORT YOU. WE’RE HERE FOR YOU 24/7 At Cory Watson Attorneys, we have made it our mission to fight for the rights of injury victims and their families for more than 30 years, and have recovered over 3 Billion for our clients. Call (877) 562-0000 or fill out our online form to arrange for your FREE and CONFIDENTIAL case evaluation.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Sexual Assault

College Students: Five Steps You Can Take After A Sexual Assault

APPROXIMATELY 1 IN 5 COLLEGE WOMEN ARE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED Statistics show that approximately 20 percent of female college students will experience a sexual assault, yet most college women do not know where to turn or what to do if they are sexually assaulted.  If you or someone you know has been sexually assaulted, there are five steps you should take: SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION. You should seek medical attention as soon as possible after a sexual assault. Many experts suggest visiting an emergency room because a hospital is equipped to provide you with necessary medical treatment such as antibiotic injections, STD testing, toxicology screening, and the collection of forensic rape evidence (also known as a “rape kit”). In order to preserve evidence, you should go to the hospital quickly and you should try not to shower, brush your teeth, or change clothes, and if possible, you should refrain from using the restroom. Do you feel like too much time has passed since the assault? Or that you have done something to destroy evidence of the assault? While it may impact the results of a rape kit, you should not let this deter you from seeking medical attention. NOTIFY THE POLICE. Be prepared to give a statement to the police that recounts as many details as you can remember. Follow up with police if you remember any additional information and obtain a copy of the police report when it is available. If you have any evidence of the assault such as text messages, social media posts, photos, recordings, or phone call records, provide a copy to the police and keep a copy for yourself. CONTACT YOUR TITLE IX DEPARTMENT. Title IX is a federal gender equity law that requires any school receiving federal funding to investigate a reported sexual assault and to provide reasonable accommodations to a student that has been sexually assaulted. Contact your school’s Title IX department to report the assault, discuss the possibility of an investigation or a no-contact order, and find out what accommodations are available to you under Title IX. SEEK SUPPORT SERVICES. You have just been through a very traumatic event and it is important to seek help. Ask your Title IX department and your local rape crisis center about available resources. Under Title IX, colleges are required to help you access counseling after a sexual assault. Additionally, local rape crisis centers can provide you with off-campus resources and support options. CONTACT AN ATTORNEY. Reach out to an attorney to discuss your options. Many attorneys will provide a free consultation and can help you understand your legal options.  An attorney may be able to guide you through communications with your school or the police, the school’s Title IX investigation of the assault, or a civil lawsuit. WE’RE HERE FOR YOU 24/7 At Cory Watson Attorneys, we have made it our mission to fight for the rights of injury victims and their families for more than 30 years, and have recovered over 3 Billion for our clients. Call (877) 562-0000 or fill out our online form to arrange for your FREE and CONFIDENTIAL case evaluation.

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| Read Time: 2 minutes | Sexual Assault

Beware of the “Red Zone” and the Risk of Campus Sexual Assault

During the past month, new high school graduates stepped onto campus and entered the realm of semi-adulthood. While freshman college students are eager to experience the infinite freedom and opportunity that their new college life brings, they are often unaware of the potential risks associated with this new environment. The risk of campus sexual assault may be overlooked. Studies reveal that female freshmen students are at a far greater risk of being sexually assaulted than upperclassmen. Unfamiliar with their new campus and peers, these women become a prime target during the first month and a half of college, often referred to as the “red zone.” The red zone is the time period in which women are most likely to be sexually assaulted, lasting six weeks—typically from the time a first year student walks onto campus until the end of September. In fact, most women who have been sexually assaulted during college reported that it occurred early on in their college career. The vulnerability of first year students is heightened not only due to the stress and excitement of college, but also because many students have moved far from their hometown. As students meet new friends and adjust to their new environment, they must understand the realities and potential risks of this new stage of life. Many colleges use orientation to give new students important information. This may include everything from the location of the student recreational center to discussing campus sexual assault. But with the excitement of new friends and freedom, this information is often forgotten just as quickly as it is relayed. While resources and accommodations are available for survivors of campus sexual assault, most students remain unaware or oblivious to their options until they find themselves directly involved in a sexual assault. Students need to understand what the Title IX office on campus is for and what resources the school has for its students. Sexual Assault Can Happen to Anyone Students need to understand that no one is immune to sexual assault. Statistics show that one in five women will be sexually assaulted during college and typically the assailant will be someone she knows. Among college women, nine out of ten victims of sexual assault knew their offender. An assailant could be a seemingly trustworthy friend met during orientation or a classmate that lives in the same dormitory. Campus sexual assaults are rarely committed through random acts by strangers. This could happen to anyone. Although college is an exciting time for young adults, students need to understand the real risks and dangers intertwined in this new environment. Rather than suggesting that the college experience is all positive, colleges need to help their students understand the bigger picture.  They need to warn students of the risk of campus sexual assault and encourage students to be aware of the increased risks facing female students during the red zone. Promoting awareness enables students to enter the college arena with a clear perspective—looking out for themselves and others as they undertake the opportunities and challenges their new home brings. Lawyers at Cory Watson Attorneys stand beside survivors of campus sexual assault. Contact Cory Watson Attorneys today for your confidential, free legal consultation. To find out more about campus safety tips, click here.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Sexual Assault

Title IX: Federal and State Law – Does Federal Law Trump Bad State Law?

Sexual assault survivors often feel abandoned and unsure of their rights. Survivors typically turn to their state and local laws, only to feel disappointment and without hope for their case. Any state or local law that may be in conflict with Title IX would be in violation of a survivor’s federal civil rights. Under federal law, Title IX overrides conflicting state law to protect survivors of sexual assault so that actions may be taken against a college, university, and/or its administrators. What is the difference between state and federal law? Federal law is created at the national level and applies to all fifty states including the District of Columbia and United States territories.  Established in the United States Constitution, federal law allows the government to use its powers to protect the rights of all United States citizens.  State laws only apply to its governing state and exist together with federal law.  However, sometimes federal law may conflict with a state law, leaving the question of which law applies when a conflict exists. How do courts resolve conflict of law issues? The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution states that federal law preempts state law when state and federal laws conflict.  Preemption means that when a state and federal law apply to the same issue, the federal law trumps the state law.  Lawmakers and Judges must follow the Constitution and adhere to the Supremacy Clause under all circumstances. How does this apply to Title IX? Under federal law, Title IX provides protection for survivors of sexual assault through equal opportunity for education of students.  Under Title IX, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”  This “discrimination” incudes sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape that “is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively bars the victim’s access to an educational opportunity or benefit.”  Through Title IX students may seek remedy when discriminated against based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance. What does that mean for student’s rights under Title IX? Survivors who believe they have been discriminated against or wronged on the basis of sex can move forward with a Title IX complaint with the Department of Education or in a civil lawsuit against a college or university that receives federal funding.  In addition to seeking remedy through a federal claim, survivors may also recover through state law claims in a civil lawsuit.  Therefore, when a state law is not in conflict with federal law, the survivor may file suit and recover under state law in addition to federal law claims like Title IX. There is a need to understand the laws so that when faced with overwhelming uncertainty and fear, sexual assault survivors know where to turn and recognize their rights.  With a thorough understanding of the laws and its application, survivors are given a voice to confidently proceed in seeking the justice they deserve. This blog was recently featured by End Rape on Campus. Cory Watson Attorneys works directly with EROC in assisting survivors of campus sexual violence to hold accountable their assailants and the colleges and universities accountable. End Rape on Campus works to end campus sexual violence through direct support for survivors and their campus communities; prevention through education; and policy reform at the campus, local, state, and federal levels. They envision a world in which every individual has an educational experience free from violence, and until then, that all survivors are believed, trusted, and supported. When survivors require legal assistance beyond EROC’s scope, Cory Watson steps in. Cory Watson stands with all survivors of sex crimes.

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| Read Time: < 1 minute | Sexual Assault

Cory Watson Welcomes End Rape on Campus

We were pleased to welcome friends from End Rape on Campus (EROC) to Birmingham this week. Sofie Karasek, Director of Education and Co-Founder of EROC, and friends dropped by the Cory Watson Attorneys offices Thursday afternoon as they passed through town on their trek through the south. End Rape on Campus works to end campus sexual violence through direct support for survivors and their campus communities; prevention through education; and policy reform at the campus, local, state, and federal levels. They envision a world in which every individual has an educational experience free from violence, and until then, that all survivors are believed, trusted, and supported. Cory Watson works directly with EROC in assisting survivors of campus sexual violence to hold accountable their assailants and the colleges and universities accountable. When survivors require legal assistance beyond EROC’s scope, Cory Watson steps in. Cory Watson stands with survivors of sex crimes.

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