Sexual Hazing Attorneys
Hazing Lawyers Fight for Assault & Harassment Victims
In the nation's foremost hazing study, researchers discovered a startling fact: between 6 to 9% of NCAA female athletes were subjected to sexual hazing. Given that only a third of sexual assaults are ever reported, it's possible that up to 1 in 5 female athletes are subjected to sexual hazing. Sexual hazing is one of the most insidious, harmful forms of hazing.
As the name makes clear, sexual hazing is any form of hazing that coerces or forces its victims to perform a sexual act, simulate a sexual act, or commit a sexual act against another person. It leaves its victims traumatized for life, but here's the worst part: sexual acts adds a layer of shame and cover-up to ritualized abuse, compelling its victims to remain silent.
Most of the victims of sexual hazing will never speak up.
In April 2019, Florida lawmakers unanimously passed Andrew's Law, an update
to the hazing statute written by Attorney David Bianchi. The law provides
for the prosecution of event coordinators and recruiters if someone is
injured by hazing at their event, even if they don't attend; provides
immunity to the first person to call 911 or administer aid to a hazing
victim; and provides other improvements. The bill was officially signed
by Governor DeSantis in June 2019.
The law was named for Andrew Coffey, an FSU student who was killed by a Pi Kappa Phi hazing tradition in November 2017. This law will make it harder for hazing wrongdoers to escape justice while giving individuals an incentive to cooperate with investigators and get immediate aid to the victims of hazing.
One Small Town's Dark Secret
In La Vernia, TX, football is a way of life. Parents socialize at their children's games, towns gather around teams and players, and moving from the junior varsity squad to the varsity team is the highlight of a student's high school career. Tragically, for 9 students between 2015 and 2017, it also meant being subjected to heinous acts of sexual abuse.
Thanks to anonymous witnesses and a subsequent police investigation, 13 students—nearly half of them adults—were arrested for sexual assault. Some of the charges were more specific, i.e., "sexual assault of a child." Senior members of the team were reportedly using objects like bats, brooms, and carbon dioxide tanks to sexually abuse new varsity players. Many of the victims of these acts are among the only people to refuse to corroborate the charges.
Why Our Sexual Hazing Attorneys Fight in Civil Court
This isn't just rape or sexual assault. Five 'normal' teenagers held down their teammates and subjected him to sexual trauma because their culture made it okay. How many of those boys suffered the same ritual? This sort of behavior becomes possible as soon as ritualized abuse is normalized in any group. As soon as a team decides "this is acceptable behavior; this is an acceptable way to 'welcome' newcomers to our team," then any heinous behavior is on the table.
Criminal prosecution addresses the actions of individual perpetrators, but civil litigation addresses the culture that created them. Civil litigation allows victims and parents to hold the school responsible for failing to create a safe environment, for failing to hold its coaches and administrators accountable. Civil litigation makes it so that justice can be done against an entire organization as well as the individual perpetrators—which helps keep this from happening again.
Civil litigation is not just about punishment; it's also about prevention.
If you've been sexually assaulted or harassed as a result of ritual hazing, speak with Stewart Tilghman Fox Bianchi & Cain, P.A. Our hazing injury lawyers secured one of the largest hazing verdicts in history and have changed the way the law prosecutes hazing throughout Florida. Call (305) 770-6335 or contact us online if you want to ensure this doesn't happen again in your community. We are here to help you.