Women Lawyers On Guard just signed onto an amicus brief in Kesterson v Kent State University, U.S. Court of Appeals, 6th Cir. At issue is who, at a University, a person who has been raped must report to before the school has liability. Kesterson was raped by her softball coach’s son in her freshman year. When she finally summoned up the courage to tell her coach in her sophomore year, the coach (Karen Linder) did not report the rape to the Title IX office, as required by school policy. Instead, she told Kesterson not to tell anyone else, and retaliated against Kesterson. Kesterson eventually told four more officials at Kent State including two assistant coaches and the Executive Director of the school’s Office of Sexual and Relationship Violence Support Services.
The District Court held that none of these reports gave the school “actual knowledge” and therefore the school had no liability or duty to respond, until Kesterson herself reported to the Title IX office a year later. Needless to say, Kesterson suffered both academically and athletically.
The amicus brief argues that the school received actual notice based on the actual knowledge of five school employees and that the “appropriate person” test developed in employee-student cases should not apply to peer-to-peer sexual harassment.