Empty school hallway on a sunny day
Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on LinkedIn
By Jarome Gautreaux

The school environment should be a supportive environment where children and adults can learn and develop. It is incredibly distressing when that environment becomes an intimidating and traumatic place for the student. However, there are legal protections for these individuals. These legal considerations for survivors of sexual assault cases in schools in Georgia can prove to be complex and vary depending on the specific circumstances of each case. A victim of sexual assault has options, though, on how to proceed and how to protect themselves legally in these situations. 

Steps To Take In School Sexual Assault Cases By The Victim

  • Reporting the Incident: Survivors can report the incident to school authorities, local law enforcement, or both. Schools are generally required to have procedures for handling reports of sexual assault.
  • Title IX Protections: In the United States, the primary legal framework governing school liability in sexual assault cases is Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. New provisions to Title IX are currently under consideration as of the end of 2023 but have not been enacted to date. Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. Under Title IX, educational institutions receiving national funding need to address sexual harassment, including sexual assault.  Schools must have policies and procedures to handle complaints of sexual assault and are required to take steps to ensure a safe educational environment.
  • Responsibilities of Schools and Their Liability Exposure: Schools must respond promptly and effectively to sexual violence complaints. If schools fail to do so, they can be accused of perpetuating discrimination under Title IX.  A school can be found to be liable if it had actual knowledge of the sexual assault and was deliberately indifferent to it. Liability can also arise if the school fails to meet a certain standard of care in preventing or responding to sexual assault.
  • Reporting and Investigation: Schools are required to have procedures for students to report sexual violence and for the school to investigate these reports. Investigations should be impartial and provide the complainant and the respondent equal opportunities to present evidence.
  • Confidentiality and Privacy: Survivors have the right to confidentiality in reporting. Schools and law enforcement must handle these cases with care to protect the survivor’s privacy while still fulfilling their obligation to investigate and take appropriate action. 
  • Legal Action: Survivors may pursue criminal charges against the perpetrator. Additionally, they may be able to file a civil lawsuit against the perpetrator and possibly against the school if the school failed to prevent or respond to the incident adequately.
  • Support Services: Schools often provide access to counseling and support services for survivors. These services can offer emotional support, legal guidance, and help navigating the school system process.
  • Accommodations: Survivors may request accommodations from their school, such as schedule changes, housing changes, or academic adjustments, to ensure their safety and well-being.
  • Prohibition on Retaliation: It is illegal for schools to retaliate against someone who reports sexual assault or participates in an investigation.
  • State Laws: Georgia state law also has specific provisions regarding sexual assault, including potential criminal charges and statutes of limitations for filing claims.
  • Emotional Healing: Emotional healing is a process. It can be helpful to seek support from trusted individuals, whether they are friends, family, or professionals.
  • Advocacy and Change: Many survivors find empowerment in advocating for change in school policies and procedures related to sexual assault.

Survivors need to seek legal advice specific to their situation. Legal advocacy groups, victim support services, and attorneys specializing in this area can provide more detailed and tailored guidance. At Gautreaux Law, we stand by victims of sexual assault, supporting them in their pursuit of justice. We will help you determine your best course of action to get a fair result, protect your rights, and compensate you for the wrongdoing that you endured as a result of a sexual assault related to your school environment. We aim to handle each claim with the utmost compassion to ensure our clients feel supported at every step.

About the Author
Jarome Gautreaux is a personal injury trial lawyer. He represents people who have been seriously injured, as well as the families of people killed because of carelessness or negligence. For over 20 years, he has successfully recovered more than 100 million dollars in a variety of Macon personal injury cases. Jarome’s reputation for client focus and case success has led to other lawyers requesting his assistance with complex personal injury litigation. What drives Jarome every day is his strong belief that the amount of money someone has should not dictate the justice they receive. It is for this reason that he has never worked for corporations, insurance companies, or other interest groups. Instead, he thrives on helping the people who need it most- people who have suffered at the hands of others and deserve compensation.