Northern California Record

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Attorney argues that sexual assault victims should be able to file civil cases

By John Severance | Jul 21, 2016

IRVINE – The Stanford University case where a young woman claimed she was raped by Brock Turner, an Olympic hopeful, sent shockwaves through the nation.

Then the judge sentenced Turner to six months in jail despite the fact prosecutors wanted him sentenced to at least six years.

Attorney John Manly of Irvine let his feelings known about the case in an opinion piece recently published by the Orange County Register.

“The California Legislature also has an important role to play in protecting victims of campus sexual abuse,” Manly wrote. “Lawmakers surely must be taking notice of all that has recently happened. But in addition to paying attention, they need to take action.”

Manly wants laws changed so rape victims also can file civil cases.

“Put simply, those persons and institutions who facilitate child and adult sexual assault are almost never held accountable criminally,” Manly told the Northern California Record. “Moreover, criminal law imposes a jail sentence on the perpetrator but provides no way to compensate the victim for the tremendous suffering both physical and emotional they suffer as the result of a violent rape.”

Manly, a partner in the Irvine law firm of Manly, Stewart & Finaldi, said the costs of sexual assault and adults are huge.

"Additionally, without the threat of civil liability, we have seen that institutions will not address the issue of sexual assault seriously,” Manly said. “For example, until it became clear that Roman Catholic Diocese were facing financial ruin, they refused to seriously address the issue of child molestation by clergy.”

Manly is a proponent for passing new, tough “social host” laws that give victims the right to hold accountable fraternities, sororities and other organizations that serve alcohol to minors and obviously intoxicated persons.

“If an institution knowingly places a predator around his or her target population and they assault someone it is fair, just and sound societal policy to hold that institution both civilly and criminally liable,” Manly said.

Manly points out in his op-ed that he U.S. Department of Justice has five open Title IX sexual assault investigations ongoing against Stanford. According to Michele Landis Dauber, a Stanford law professor, only one student in its history has been expelled for sexual assault, he cites.

Manly said this is the perfect time for a change in the law.

“Our state should be a leader when it comes to these types of legal rights,” he wrote. “As a society, we must recognize that the civil courts are sometimes the only real opportunity for sexual assault victims to be heard – and to get true justice.”

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