New Jersey putting focus on campus sexual assaults
TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Prosecutors from New Jersey’s 21 counties will hold forums this fall on college campuses focusing on combating sexual assaults, under a directive issued by state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.
The guidance issued Thursday comes as Grewal and 18 other state attorneys general have voiced their opposition to a federal overhaul of campus sexual assault rules. Victims’ advocates and others fear the new rules will discourage people from disclosing assaults and prevent schools from taking action against students facing credible allegations.
Recently in New Jersey, William Paterson University reached an $800,000 settlement with the family of a former student who killed herself after an alleged on-campus rape. The family claimed the university failed to adequately investigate the claim and didn’t question or discipline the alleged attacker. Under settlement terms, the school admitted no wrongdoing.
Ramapo College is facing a lawsuit from a woman who was sexually assaulted on its campus in 2014 and alleges the school created a dangerous environment. Attorneys have argued in court that school officials shouldn’t be liable for damages.
Several women have sued Stockton University, alleging the school is partly to blame for sexual assaults at an unsanctioned fraternity on campus. The school has said it is cooperating with authorities and has measures in place to provide a safe and secure campus.
“We will steadfastly defend the right of students to receive an education free of sexual harassment, violence and discrimination,” Grewal said in a statement. “We cannot stand by while the federal government proposes sweeping changes that would undermine that right and discourage students who are survivors of sexual violence from coming forward.”
Grewal updated state standards last fall for providing services to sexual assault victims. He also issued a directive that established new reporting measures to more accurately track sexual assault cases.