News & Headlines

Alex Zalkin Announces Lawsuit Against Baylor University

Zalkin Law Firm Attorney, Alex Zalkin and his client Jasmine Hernandez discuss the Title IX  campus sexual assault civil lawsuit against Baylor University in this YouTube video presentation.

CLICK HERE to watch video.

Baylor rape victim sues university over sex assaults

(KCEN) WACO -- A rape victim has filed a Title IX and negligence lawsuit against Baylor University.  The civil suit claims Baylor officials were intentionally “indifferent” to complaints made by women sexually assaulted by former football player, and convicted rapist, Tevin Elliot.

The plaintiff, Jasmin Hernandez, has hired the Zalkin Law Firm out of San Diego, California, which specializes in representing victims of sexual violence.

CLICK HERE it read article.

Allegations of indifference at Baylor University

ESPN. March 31, 2016.

Watch the ESPN interview with Zalkin Law firm client, Jasmine Hernandez, who was raped by a Baylor University football player while she was a student at the school.

Baylor Sexual Assault Victim Files Title IX Suit Against School

ESPN, March 31, 2016

"A former Baylor University student who reported to campus officials that she had been raped by former Bears football player Tevin Elliott filed a Title IX lawsuit against the university Wednesday, claiming the school knew Elliott had a history of assaults, failed to protect her and other women, and ignored her when she sought help after her assault.

The Zalkin Law Firm filed this campus sexual assault lawsuit on behalf of our client Jasmine Hernandez.

CLICK to read full story.

LAW FIRM VS. CAMPUS ABUSE

San Diego Union Tribune, March 29, 2016

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Here is an excellent profile of the Zalkin Law Firm and the work done by Alex Zalkin and Irwin Zalkin and the firm's attorneys to represent victims of childhood sexual abuse and campus sexual assault.

While Zalkin has represented victims of clergy abuse for more than a decade, Alex Zalkin, his 31-year-old son, who joined the firm about five years ago, has focused on university cases. "I think there is an institutional problem with how they view sexual assault," the younger Zalkin said.

"I think historically it's been marginalized and ignored. There is a mind-set that needs to be addressed, that needs to be changed, about how women are treated on campus."

CLICK HERE to read full article.

Harvard Grad Sues School Over Handling of Campus Sexual Assault Claim

Campus sexual assault victim

Boston Globe. February 17, 2016

Alyssa Leader, who graduated in 2015, called for a culture change at Harvard so others in her situation will have their cases taken more seriously. “Harvard has an institutional culture of ignoring and silencing people like me,” Leader said Wednesday at a press conference in the Sheraton Commander Hotel in Harvard Square.

CLICK HERE to read story.  

Lawsuit Accuses Harvard Of Mishandling Sex Assault Complaint

CBS Boston. February 17, 2016

Coverage of Zalkin Law Firm announcement of civil lawsuit against Harvard University on behalf of victim of campus sexual assault. 

Click Here to See Story.

SAN FRANCISCO RAPE VICTIM ANNOUNCES LAWSUIT AGAINST SFPD

ABC7 News.

 The Zalkin Law Firm announced the filing of a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of a rape victim whose rape kit was never tested by the San Francisco police.  

CLICK HERE for full coverage.

RAPE SURVIVOR SUES SAN FRANCISCO, SFPD OVER UNTESTED RAPE KIT

ABC7 News. January 12,2016 Zalkin Law Firm client, Heather Marlowe explains  how SFPD failed to investigate her rape case and test her rape kit. CLICK HERE to read full story and see video coverage.

Harvard Law Professors Put the Chill on Campus Sexual Assault Victims

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See Irwin Zalkin's latest blog post on the Huffington Post website.

"As a lawyer who has represented hundreds of sexual abuse and sexual assault victims, I find the conduct of these law professors to be reprehensible, but not atypical of those who are more concerned about protecting their reputations, and the reputation of their institution, than the safety and welfare of their students. It's time to set the record straight."

Click HERE  

Former Student Sues UCSB Over Sexual Assault Case

Santa Barbara Independent December 18, 2015

Alex photo UCSB

"Accompanied by her lawyer and father, a former UCSB student announced Thursday at a press conference that she has filed a federal complaint against the UC Regents. Hayley Moore claims UCSB failed to investigate her sexual assault by a fellow UCSB student, even after Moore reported the incident to multiple campus officials. She is suing for damages, civil penalties, and attorneys’ fees, among other costs."

CLICK TO SEE ARTICLE

UCSB Former Student Files Civil Lawsuit over Campus Sexual Assault

KEYT Channel 3 Santa Barbara, CA  12/17/15 An alleged University of California, Santa Barbara sexual assault victim is filling a civil lawsuit against the regents of the University of California. The lawsuit alleges that UCSB failed to adequately protect victims and investigate complaints of sexual assault. CLICK TO SEE FULL COVERAGE   video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Students sue Michigan State University over handling of sexual assaults

Watch Attorney Alex Zalkin explain the lawsuit filed against Michigan State University by four victims of campus sexual assault. Fox News 17 coverage is below or click here.

Zalkin Law Firm Clients Sue Michigan State for Mishandling of Sexual Assault Investigations

Attorney Alex Zalkin announced a civil lawsuit against Michigan State University today on behalf of four Plaintiffs who were sexually assaulted while students at the university.  This story on Michigan Public Radio includes an interview with Mr. Zalkin explaining the case. MSU victims
Emily Kollaritsch (left) and Shayna Gross are two of the four plaintiffs suing Michigan State University CREDIT STEVE CARMODY / MICHIGAN RADIO
CLICK HERE to read article and hear the interview.  

The Safe Campus Act: Backed By Fraternities And No Real Protections For Victims

By Irwin M. Zalkin, Esq. Irwin-Zalkin-255x165 Republican Representatives Matt Salmon and Pete Sessions are promoting a bill in Congress titled “The Safe Campus Act” which, by its title, would lead one to believe that it is intended to better protect students from campus sexual violence. Don’t be fooled by the clever title created by high powered lobbyists and publicists bought and paid for by college fraternities.   This bill has nothing to do with protecting students and everything to do with insuring that fraternities and colleges are better able to shield themselves from legal responsibility for the incredible harm caused by a small number of their members and fellow students.

Currently, under Title IX (federal civil rights legislation that was passed in the 1970s to insure gender equality in education) secondary schools and colleges have a responsibility to conduct “prompt and equitable” investigations of claims of sexual violence and gender discrimination by its students. (34 Code of Federal Regulations Sec. 106.8(b)). The Safe Campus Act would change that. It would require victims of sexual violence to report their assailant to the police and permit schools and colleges to defer their own investigations pending result of the police investigations. It also would require the victims of sexual assault to meet a higher standard of proof before the school or college would have to take any remedial action.

The Office of Civil Rights, the arm of the federal Department of Education, the agency authorized by law to implement, interpret and enforce compliance with Title IX by schools and colleges, has made it very clear, that schools and colleges are to conduct their own immediate investigation and not wait until law enforcement has conducted its investigation. These institutions have a non-delegable responsibility to their students to protect them from gender violence that is not, and cannot be dependent on what law enforcement does. (United States Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, Dear Colleague letter of April 4, 2011, page 8, N. 23). This makes sense since, the standards required for a criminal conviction are significantly higher where the assailant faces the loss of his or her liberty than what is necessary or required of a school or college to respond and remedy a claim of sexual violence.

The Campus Safety Act turns Title IX on its head and would reverse decades of regulations and court decisions dealing with the scourge of sexual violence on college campuses, much of which occurs at fraternity parties. The Greek system is a major source of financial benefit to colleges, including a source for alternative housing for college students, and for obtaining hundreds of millions of dollars in donations.

It’s no wonder fraternities are on the attack against sexual assault victims. They want to go back to business as usual. As one slogan often used by frat boys says “Parents send us your daughters.”

Please let your representatives in Congress know how you feel about that.

Jehovah’s Witnesses can hide the truth in court to protect religion

Reveal, Sept. 23, 2015. The Zalkin Law Firm Lopez case is highlighted in this article about how the Jehovah's Witnesses hide childhood sexual abuse perpetrators under cover of religion. "Reveal looked at more than a dozen lawsuits and discovered evidence suggesting that Jehovah’s Witnesses leaders have either lied under oath or refused to cooperate with secular authorities on the hunt for abusers. In some cases, those elders remain in positions of power in their local congregations." CLICK HERE to read full article.

Yom Kippur Thoughts for Pope Francis

Irwin-Zalkin-255x165 By: Irwin Zalkin This was the week of Yom Kippur, the Jewish High Holiday known as the Day of Atonement.  It is a day when Jews personally and collectively acknowledge our transgressions of the previous year and seek forgiveness.

I was in synagogue observing the holiday and confessing my sins when our Rabbi, as part of her sermon, read a recent encyclical (letter) issued by Pope Francis where he called for the world to acknowledge the hardships of those who are suffering from an array of problems from the ravages of war to persecution to poverty.  It was a moving challenge to all of us to acknowledge our obligation to reach out and help the suffering and the helpless.

During his current visit to the United States, Pope Francis had an opportunity to reach out to those who have suffered, and continue to suffer, from the scourge of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.  Instead, he lauded the "courage" of the Bishops of the United States for how they have responded to the fall out from the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.  I was disappointed to see no acknowledgment or compassion for the victims of clergy abuse, but only this “pat on the back” for Bishops, many who have ignored this travesty for decades.

As an attorney who has been representing survivors of child sexual abuse for over a decade, I was disappointed, but not surprised.  Our firm has been involved in efforts to change laws in various states in the United States, including California, that would allow survivors access to civil justice against institutions that are responsible for the harm that was done to them as children by employees, agents and volunteers of those organizations including the Catholic Church.  The Catholic Church has been the leader in opposition to those efforts, spending millions of dollars on expensive lobbyists to defeat such legislation that would give victims access to justice.

It is clear from this failure of the Pope to acknowledge victims of clergy abuse on his visit to the U.S. that the church’s continuing opposition to extending access to civil justice for sex abuse victims is a decision that comes from the top.  If this Pope wanted to support the rights of victims then there would be no such resistance to legislative proposals the church is battling with millions of dollars in several states across the country.

On behalf of survivors of Catholic clergy sex abuse, and of sexual abuse in many other institutions, I challenge Pope Francis to reflect on the suffering of clergy abuse victims and then to reconsider the Church position. They deserve his compassion and real justice for what they have suffered.

The Laws Targeting Campus Sexual Assault

The Atlantic. Sept. 11, 2015 "Between now and the time that college students pack up for Thanksgiving break, more sexual assaults will happen on campuses nationwide than during any other time of the year. The “Red Zone,” as this period is commonly known, is a time when new students are adjusting to the novelty and freedom of college life—and are thus particularly vulnerable to sexual assault. Now that a new academic year is starting up, though, some activists and administrators are hopefulthat significant changes are underway as a result of new regulations designed to force schools to proactively confront sexual violence on campus." CLICK HERE to read the full article.

Huff Post on Campus Sexual Assault

Huff Post.  August 28, 2015 During the last week of August, HuffPost Live launched a weeklong series investigating campus sexual assault and the issues many victims can face when reporting rape to universities. Host Zerlina Maxwell sat down with Valerie Jarrett, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama; Janet Napolitano, the president of the University of California system, and numerous other victims and advocates to figure out how we can combat the widespread epidemic. Click Here to See Full Story.

Is Subway Liable for Jared?

An Analysis of the Federal Criminal Complaint and Subway’s Potential Civil Liability for Claims of Childhood Sexual Abuse.
By Ryan Cohen, The Zalkin Law Firm Ryan Cohen

On August 19, 2015, Federal prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against former Subway spokesperson, Jared Fogle, alleging various counts of sexual abuse against children. Prior to, Jared Fogle and his “Subway diet” had become a staple of popular culture, contributing to immense growth for the food chain. According to CNN, in 2013, Subway’s chief marking officer credited Fogle as likely being responsible for as much as one-half of Subway’s growth since 1998. (http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/19/us/jared-fogle-profile-subway/index.html)

As of September 1, 2015, Subway’s website touts having 44,201 restaurants in 110 countries. (http://www.subway.com/subwayroot/default.aspx) Considering how Subway very publicly focused its “healthy option” marketing campaign around Fogle, could Subway be civilly liable for Fogle’s heinous conduct towards children? In short, the answer is maybe. A review of the criminal complaint and subsequent press reports sheds some light on the manner in which Fogle perpetrated these crimes. While more information is needed, Subway should certainly be concerned about potential civil exposure.

The Zalkin Law Firm, P.C. represents victims of childhood sexual abuse in personal injury lawsuits against the parties responsible. We often seek damages from institutions responsible for the sexual abuse of our clients. Per the criminal complaint, Fogle perpetrated acts of sexual abuse in various states, including New York and Indiana. Thus, the applicable jurisdiction and associated laws are unknown and any analysis of Subway’s liability must be considered merely informative and not intended to be taken as legal advice. However, paramount to any institution’s liability for sexual abuse is the foreseeability of the risk to the victim. Applied herein, the question becomes whether it was foreseeable to Subway that Fogle would be in contact with children and whether those children would be at risk of sexual abuse.

The criminal complaint defines Jared’s relationship with Subway as “a spokesperson for a business having multiple worldwide retail locations, which he frequently visited for marketing purposes.” The complaint also states that Fogle “repeatedly made travel plans in order to have his business trips coincide with his pursuit of commercial sex acts.” The complaint further asserts, “At various times between in or about 2007 and 2013, the Defendant communicated with several adult women who were not escorts and expressed his desire to engage in sexual acts with young minors. In some cases, he stated that he has done so in the past.”

Therefore, the criminal complaint sets forth the very plausible scenario that Subway would have Fogle make personal appearances at Subway franchises in addition to appearing in advertising materials. On these business trips where Fogle would meet with franchisees and customers, Fogle would, at times, also seek and engage in sex acts with minors. Though specifics are not provided, if Fogle used his Subway directed contact with franchisees and customers to access children for sexual purposes, a compelling argument could be made that Subway is liable to the victims, particularly if Subway was previously on notice of Fogle’s dangerous propensities.

Interestingly, subsequent media reports describe this almost exact scenario.   According to Business Insider, a former Subway franchisee named Cindy Mills claims she informed executives with the Subway Franchisee Advertising Fund Trust (SFAFT) about Fogle’s interest in sex with minors beginning in 2008. This includes the CEO of SFAFT, Jeff Moody, who apparently cut Mills off in the middle of the conversation, indicating he did not want to hear anymore. Per Business Insider, Mills reports Moody told her he had dealt with similar complaints in the past. Ms. Mills reported she learned of Fogle’s sexual conduct with minors directly from Fogle, who described having sex with prostitutes between the ages of 9 and 16 years old in Thailand and in the United States. http://www.businessinsider.com/subway-franchisee-says-subway-knew-about-jared-fogles-disturbing-behavior-2015-8 Additionally, other reports indicate Fogle also asked her to set up a meeting for him with Mills’ cousin, who was underage at the time. http://www.businessinsider.com/fbi-subpoenae-subway-jared-fogles-text-2015-7 Alarmingly, Mills claims in the report that Subway executives did nothing after she informed them of her concerns. http://www.businessinsider.com/subway-franchisee-says-subway-knew-about-jared-fogles-disturbing-behavior-2015-8

Subway denies any conversations took place between SFAFT executives and Mills regarding Fogle, as reported by the Huffington Post. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/subway-denies-jared-fogle_55d7d3d5e4b08cd3359c4157) However, should Mills’ version of events prove true, Subway was on notice of Fogle’s dangerous propensities in 2008, if not sooner. Yet, according to the New York Daily News, Subway did not suspend its relationship with Fogle until 2015 after the FBI raided his home. (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/subway-pitchman-jared-fogle-home-raided-child-porn-bust-article-1.2283728) Per the criminal complaint, Fogle continued to engage in commercial sexual activities with minors through 2015. With prior knowledge of Fogle’s conduct, failing to react reasonably and continuing to place Fogle in similar circumstances thereafter could make resulting abuse foreseeable.

Only time will tell whether any of the sexual abuse victims Fogle accumulated will come forward to seek civil remedies against Fogle and/or Subway. The circumstances surrounding their abuse will help determine whether Subway is, in part, responsible. Subway benefitted greatly for many years from its relationship with Fogle. Did Subway choose to protect its brand and its successful spokesperson instead of vulnerable children? If so, Subway would become part of a tragic legacy of institutions liable for the sexual abuse of children due to priorities gone awry.