Stony Brook University did the unthinkable says Montrose based Sarah Tubbs. When she sought the university’s help against a man who sexually assaulted her in his dorm room last year, they asked her to personally prosecute him at a disciplinary hearing.
Violation of Title IX
The sexual harassment and assault caused 22 year old Tubbs frequent nightmares and panic attacks, and was hardly in a position to question her attacker and have her cross examine him. Besides, she had no inkling of the law or any sort of legal training to handle such a situation. Tubbs has now decided to sue Stony Brook and filed a lawsuit in White Plains through her sexual harassment attorney against the university and her alleged attacker.
In the lawsuit, Tubbs has sought monetary damages for violation of Title IX. This section prohibits gender discrimination at schools receiving federal funding and includes rape, and sexual harassment and assault. In addition, she also seeks a court order to eliminate the practice of victims of sexual assault and harassment having to prosecute their own cases at student disciplinary hearings.
Cuomo is perhaps right this time around
According to sexual harassment attorneys, anti-business Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged state universities of New York to adopt a more stringent and comprehensive sexual assault policy in December last year. This was almost a year after Tubbs was sexually assaulted. Tubbs was allegedly assaulted at the end of January 2014. Following a campus party at which she had a few drinks, she claims she was assaulted by the attacker at his dorm room after she changed her mind about having sex.
In her lawsuit, Tubbs alleges that she was forced to perform oral sex while her assailant, who is not yet being named since no criminal charges have been brought against him yet, attempted to penetrate her forcefully.
Advised against filing complaint
Tubbs was a senior resident of Stony Brook at the time and reported the assault to the campus police two days later. She was asked to return and file a formal complaint after a rape examination at Stony Brook University Hospital.
Fancy buildings at Stony Brook University do not make up for strange decisions such as forcing a plausible victim to become an attorney over night and cross examine her attacker!
When she returned a fortnight later a campus police officer allegedly told her that she did not have a strong case since she did not scream or forcefully fight back. And she was perhaps drunk which weakens her credibility. The officer also said that the District Attorney’s Office was likely to have a similar view, which prompted Tubbs to refrain from filing a formal complaint.
Assailant held not responsible at disciplinary hearing
According to Tubbs, university officials interviewed her attacker and spoke to witnesses after she proceeded with a university disciplinary action. However, she was told to prosecute the attacker herself only a week before the hearing. This involved writing her own opening statement, creating exhibits and cross examining witnesses, which took a lot of her time.
This could be even more ridiculous if she had classes to attend too.
The five hour disciplinary hearing was held in the absence of any police or security officers, which added to her fears since there was only a paper screen between Tubbs and her assailant, who was ultimately found not responsible at the hearing.
Tubbs has experienced frequent anxiety attacks and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. In August last year, the university, on determining that the disciplinary board did not consider the definition of consent, granted her an appeal. She was informed by Jay Souza, a Stony Brook official, that they would contact her and advise her on the next steps. However, Tubbs claims they have not contacted her despite her attempts to reach out to school officials.