Sexual Harassment in Boston a Problem for Schools

Sexual harassment in Boston can take many different forms, as illustrated in the recent case of a former college student who is suing her alma mater over allegations regarding her roommate’s nighttime activities.

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As our Boston sexual harassment attorneys understand it, the case is not so much about what the roommate did – although much is being made of that. It has more to do with what the school did or did not do about the allegations following several complaints.

According to New York Daily News and a number of news outlets, the student has filed a lawsuit accusing the school – Stonehill College, a Catholic university – of breaking the law through violation of the Rehabilitation Act and the Fair Housing Act. She claims the school refused to offer an alternative to her living situation, which involved a roommate who was reportedly openly sexually active.

The plaintiff in this case alleges that her roommate kept her up at night and also engaged in video chats that were sexually inappropriate. She says this caused her not only great discomfort, but also deepened her pre-existing depression into a tailspin of suicidal thoughts.

Apparently, roommate mediation did not work, and the student didn’t want to be subjected to additional problems by moving in with another roommate she didn’t know. The school refused to offer her a single room.

It’s not clear yet how the court will rule on this issue. The school may have a point in that it did try to offer her other accommodations. At issue will be whether the court finds the former student’s request of a single room reasonable or burdensome.

The bottom line, though, is that having an experienced Boston sexual harassment attorney on your side can help you determine what your options are in such a situation.

Another recent example of schools involved in litigation of a sexual nature involves a more serious and direct allegation. In this case, an exclusive private school in the western part of the state was accused of covering up an alleged sexual assault of a student by a teacher.

The lawsuit was originally filed two years ago. The student, who was 16 at the time of the alleged incident, said she was raped by her biology teacher when she was a sophomore in high school.

The teacher had reportedly groomed the girl, building a relationship with her for some time, before sexually assaulting her, the lawsuit claimed.

When the girl reported the incident to school authorities, they in turn indicated that she was probably lying and slapped her with a “mentally unstable” label.

While the teacher had denied that anything inappropriate occurred, text messages he had sent to the girl proved to the contrary.

Recent news reports indicate the school has reached a settlement in the case, though the terms of that agreement are confidential.

Schools, perhaps even more than other employers, hold a great amount of responsibility because they are charged with protecting not only their employees from sexual harassment, but vulnerable and impressionable young students as well. You may think you are doing the right thing by reporting an incident directly to school administrators. But often, school officials want to keep such situations quiet, because a stain on their reputation is going to hurt their prospects of new students and future funding. This is why if you believe you may have been subjected to sexual harassment or sexual assault on campus, your first call should be to an experienced attorney.

If you need to speak to an employment attorney regarding sexual harassment in Boston or elsewhere in Massachusetts, contact The Brown Law Firm, LLC, for a free and confidential consultation. Call 617-489-0817 or contact us through this website.

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