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Women’s Bar of the State of New York Welcomes Decision Reinstating Campus Sexual Assault Survivor’s Title IX Lawsuit

(New York, NY, Friday, August 28, 2020)   The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY) applauds a decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit that allows a survivor of an on-campus sexual assault to sue the University of Kentucky (UK) under Title IX, the federal civil rights law that protects people from discrimination in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.

In Jane Doe v. University of Kentucky, the Appeals Court rejected the lower court’s decision that Jane Doe had no standing to sue UK on the grounds that she was not technically a UK student.  At the time of the 2014 assault, Ms. Doe was enrolled in a joint program between UK and Bluegrass Community and Technical College, which allows Bluegrass students “to transfer credits to the University and enroll in the University through a simpler application process.”  According to the court records, she attended UK classes and paid UK for her on-campus dining plan and “various student fees, including fees for the student government association, student activities, access to the student center, a student health plan, technology, access to the recreation center, and student affairs.” She also paid UK for her dorm room on the UK campus, which is where she was sexually assaulted by a student enrolled at UK.  After the assault and an unsuccessful disciplinary action against the alleged perpetrator, Ms. Doe dropped out of classes, withdrew from the university’s housing, and in 2017 filed suit against the university.

The Appeals Court held that by paying UK “directly for much of her educational experience – living on the University’s campus, dining on campus, and participating in the University’s student activities – and the close academic relationship between the University and the Community College,” Ms. Doe had shown that she had the right to proceed with her Title IX claim.  Thus, she will now have the opportunity to present her allegations to the trial court that UK discriminated against her under Title IX by denying her “access to the educational opportunities or benefits” provided by the school.

WBASNY considers the Appeals Court ruling a vindication of one campus sexual assault victim’s right to have her day in court.

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The Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York (WBASNY) is the professional membership organization of choice for more than 4,000 attorneys throughout New York State, and the largest statewide women’s bar association in the country.  For four decades, WBASNY has been a singularly important resource for women lawyers, with professional networking, continuing legal education programming, leadership training, and advocacy for the rights of women, children, and families.  Through involvement with WBASNY’s 20 regional chapters and its 40-plus substantive law committees, WBASNY’s members collaborate with one another on a variety of issues and perform public and community service, in furtherance of its mission to promote the advancement of the status of women in society and women in the legal profession; to promote the fair and equal administration of justice; and to act as a unified voice for its members with respect to issues of statewide, national and international significance to women generally and women attorneys in particular. WBASNY holds United Nations NGO status with the U.N.’s Department of Public Information, and Special Consultative status in association with the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). WBASNY is also a founding member of the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations.