Fulton County District Attorney, Paul Howard, chose not to bring charges against the assailants involved in two campus rape cases, one at Morehouse College and the other at Georgia Tech.
The three Morehouse basketball players accused of sexually assaulting a Spelman College student in March 2013 were arrested in April 2013 on various assault and rape charges, released on bond, and suspended from Morehouse while Howard’s office investigated. In the second case, Caleb Ackerman, the Georgia Tech student accused of raping an Agnes Scott College Student at his fraternity house in January 2014, was expelled from the university.
Howard (pictured above) said Wednesday that he would not bring charges in two high-profile campus rape cases. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kent D. Johnson, Pool)
The Georgia Tech case garnered national attention, in part, because Ackerman’s fraternity, Phi Kappa Tau, drew public scrutiny after an email surfaced from one member instructing others how to lure “rapebait” by plying female guests with alcohol.
When the first victim came forward with her allegations of rape after drinking alcohol provided by Phi Kappa Tau members at their fraternity house, another Agnes Scott student followed suit, telling Georgia Tech police Ackerman had raped her in 2012 at an event held at the fraternity house. While the second women did not wish to pursue criminal charges against Ackerman, both women sued the fraternity, saying it “promoted a rampant culture of rape and misogyny.”
Attorney Doug Fierberg, of School Violence Law and The Fierberg National Law Group, represented both women in the civil case against the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity that settled about a year ago for an undisclosed amount of money. Fierberg says Howard’s delay was unwarranted.
“We were able to bring a (civil) case forward, prove what needed to be proven and reach a resolution long before the state decided to move or not,” Fierberg said.
The long delay of Paul Howard’s decision – over two years – prompted complaints that both the accused and the victims were left in limbo.
“No prosecution makes no sense,” said Fierberg.
Click here to read the article in its entirety.
Cari Simon and her representation of two Kansas State University campus rape survivors are featured in Washington Post article concerning the college sexual assault crisis in America.
In the wake of the Stanford University rape case, the focus on campus sexual misconduct has intensified.
Vice President Biden penned a gripping letter to the victim – “I am filled with furious anger, both that this happened to you and that our culture is still so broken.” The letter seemed to encapsulate the national outrage that erupted when the woman’s attacker was sentenced to just six months in county jail and simultaneously cast light on the rigorous effort of this administration to transform the way colleges and universities responded to allegations of sexual misconduct.
“The administration’s approach — through federal enforcement of civil rights protections and a campus-based advocacy campaign — was spurred in part by an emboldened group of survivors who have gone public with their complaints about their schools’ unresponsiveness. But it also reflects the activism of Biden and President Obama, who became alarmed at the idea of rape as a fixture of college life.” – The Washington Post
In 2001, the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights issued guidance that sexual harassment constituted a threat to students’ ability to pursue educational opportunities.
Attorney Cari Simon, of The Fierberg National Law Group and School Violence Law, has represented dozens of campus-assault survivors. She tells The Washington Post, aspects of the guidance, like accommodations to shield victims from subsequent harassment and trauma, are critical to avoid them going into “a downward-spiral path”.
Cari recently garnered national attention with her representation of two Kansas State University sexual assault survivors, Sara Weckhorst and Tessa Farmer. Weckhorst and Farmer were raped at university sanctioned fraternity houses, but due to Kansas State’s refusal to investigate sexual assaults occurring off-campus, must continue to share campus with their assailants. With the help of Cari Simon, the two women are suing Kansas State University, and on Friday, the Justice Department filed two separate amicus briefs on the students’ side, arguing their Title IX suits should go forward.
Schools are legally obligated to ensure sexual violence does not undermine students’ educations, and although the federal disciplinary guidance remains controversial, the campaign for bystander intervention that the White House launched in 2014, It’s On Us, has won widespread support by encouraging victims and bystanders alike to demand more accountability from schools.
Click here to read the article in its entirety.
The BBC Documentary, Frat Boys: Inside America’s Fraternities, aired last week to audiences across Europe, garnering rave reviews.
The hour long BBC expose dives deeper into U.S. Fraternity life, narrowly debunking and greatly personifying fraternity stereotypes that exist within the minds of Europeans, and let’s be honest, (non-Greek) Americans alike.
In the midst of toga parties and binge drinking, Douglas Fierberg and Cari Simon of The Fierberg National Law Group cast a sobering light onto the common practices of hazing and sexual assault that run rampant within fraternity culture. While our client, Terrance Bennett, bravely chronicles his experience as a Tau Kappa Epsilon (“TKE”) pledge, recalling in horrifying detail the hazing practices that led him to be hospitalized for weeks and nearly cost him his life.
“The film highlighted two disturbing statistics: that frat member students were three times more likely to commit sexual assault than non-members, and that violent initiations, known as “hazing”, have been responsible for a staggering 22 deaths in just eight years. More sinister still is that American universities have been complicit in keeping such occurrences out of the courts, and out of the news, because they receive 75 per cent of donations from fraternity members.”– The Telegraph
The family of Harrison Kowiak, a 19 year old co-ed who died trying to join a fraternity, also shares their son’s story in the documentary. A football accident, his family was told, initially, took Harrison’s life. Though, after commissioning their own investigation, Harrison’s family discovered he’d been killed during a hazing ritual in which pledge’s are taken to a desolate field in the black of night and told to capture a sacred rock while being tackled from all sides by fraternity brothers dressed in dark clothing.
Frat Boys: Inside America’s Fraternities will air in the United States Fall 2016.
Click here to read more about the BBC documentary as told by the British national daily newspaper, The Guardian.