Can I take legal action against my former university for sexual assault?

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Can I take legal action against my former university for sexual assault?

I was sexually assaulted by a professor of my university 6 years ago (it happened off campus). When I reported it to the university, the university fired him and I was told he was not allowed back on campus. However, that following summer, he was allowed back on campus to conduct a soccer camp. I found out by accident and was not given any warning by the university.

Asked on July 20, 2014 under Personal Injury, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, you most likely cannot sue your university: as a general matter, an employer is only liable, or responsible, for the criminal acts or assaults of employees if 1) the act was at least partially for the employer's benefit and was within the scope of the employment--which this would not be, since a professor's employment in no way involves assault and the university does not benefit by it; or 2) the employer was aware that this employee posed a threat of doing this thing (e.g. had done it before; had made threats; etc.) and even though it knew of the threat, did not take action. It is very difficult to hold an employer liable for a sexual assault.

Also, there is no liability for letting him back on campus, since that is not an inherently wrongful act and while upsetting to you, does not injure you.

You may be able to sue the professor himself for the assault, but if you want to explore that option do so immediately--if the statute of limitations has not passed  yet, it may expire soon.


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