News & Headlines

Survivors of Campus Sexual Violence Don’t Despair, Title IX Remains in Place Even If the Department Of Education Refuses To Protect You

A Message to Survivors of Campus Sexual Assault and Harassment  

Survivors of campus sexual assault and harassment have reacted with shock and dismay to the news today that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos intends to roll back victim protections put in place by the Obama administration to reverse the longstanding indifference in schools and colleges to the discriminatory effect of sexual assault and violence.  With this action, DeVos and her boss show that they are nothing short of rape apologists.  Clearly the Secretary is taking her marching orders from a President who bragged about his ability to sexually assault women at will.

While providing new guidance that will make it more difficult for survivors to obtain relief from school administrators and the US Department of Education, the civil justice system remains an alternative avenue for justice and protection for victims since the legal provisions of Title IX cannot be changed by a change in guidance from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”).

While DeVos and the OCR might decide not to enforce the law, nothing about DeVos’ decision interferes with the power of federal civil courts in this country from enforcing Title IX and the federal regulations implementing it.  Title IX and 34 Code of Federal Regulations Part 106 still require schools and colleges receiving federal funding to take active measures to prevent a hostile campus environment, maintain a process for prompt and immediate response to a complaint of sexual violence or harassment, provide protections from exposure to further harassment, allow for accommodations to ensure that a victim does not suffer a loss of academic opportunities and to take appropriate disciplinary action when the facts support the complaint.  There is nothing that DeVos can do to change these basic legal requirements.

If an academic institution responds to a complaint of sexual violence or harassment with deliberate indifference that results in exposure to further harassment, and a hostile campus environment for the survivor nothing stops that survivor from marching into a federal court to enforce those right

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Victim of Sexual Assault by Police Officer Files Lawsuit against City of Helena, MT

Former Confidential Informant Files Sexual Assault Civil Lawsuit Against the City of Helena, County of Lewis & Clark And Former Police Officer Matt Thompson

Lawsuit Alleges that Authorities Were Negligent in their Oversight of Officer Matt Thompson Were Aware of Sexual Abuse of Confidential Informants

Helena, MT.   The Zalkin Law Firm, P.C. and The McKeon Doud Law Firm, P.C. announced the filing of a civil lawsuit on June 3, 2016 against the City of Helena, County of Lewis & Clark, and former Helena Police Department Officer Matt Thompson on behalf of a victim of sexual assault at the hands of Matt Thompson.  The victim, named in the lawsuit as S.H. in order to protect her identity, worked as a confidential informant for the Missouri River Drug Task Force (MRDTF).

It was through her work as a confidential informant that she came to know Officer Thompson.  The lawsuit claims that Officer Thompson forced S.H. to engage in repeated sexual acts while he was both on and off duty.  He threatened S.H. with criminal charges and told her that her kids would be taken away if she did not comply.  He became increasingly physically abusive of S.H. as time progressed.

The lawsuit additionally alleges that the City and County knew of Officer Thompson’s dangerous and exploitive propensities and failed to use reasonable care in investigating and retaining him as an officer.  Once confronted with evidence that he could not refute, Officer Thompson admitted to having sexual relations with multiple confidential informants, including S.H.  Officer Thompson was allowed to resign from his position.  No formal complaint was submitted to revoke Officer Thompson’s POST certificates, nor were any criminal charges pursued against him.

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Media Statement of Jasmin Hernandez re: Firing of Baylor Coach Briles

May 26, 2016

Media Statement by Jasmin Hernandez: In Response to Baylor University Actions On President Ken Starr and Coach Art Briles

Attorney Alex Zalkin and Jasmin Hernandez announcing Title IX lawsuit

“I am pleased to see that Baylor University has finally taken action to terminate head Football Coach Art Briles and demote University President Ken Starr for their failure to protect students like myself from sexual predators on the Baylor campus. I was raped by a Baylor football player in 2012 and that player is now in jail for his horrific sexual assault on me and other students.

These University leaders have known about sexual predators on the football team for years and never took actions to protect students. The University never offered me or other victims any support when we reported these sexual assaults and that lack of support led me to drop out of Baylor and suffer emotionally ever since.

I am glad that my Title IX civil lawsuit against Baylor, filed by my attorneys at the Zalkin Law Firm in March, has helped to call attention to the failure of Baylor to support the legal rights of victims of sexual assault at the university.

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Former Baylor Rape Victim, Jasmin Hernandez, Title IX Civil Lawsuit  Contributes to Demotion of President Ken Starr and Termination of Football Coach Art Briles

The Lawsuit Named Coach Art Briles and Ian McCaw, Athletic Director as Defendants In the Civil Claim

San Diego, CA – The recently filed Title IX civil lawsuit against the Baylor University Board, Briles and McCaw on behalf of Jasmin Hernandez, a former Baylor University student who was raped by Tevin Elliott, a Baylor football player, has served as fuel for the Baylor Board of Regents action today to demote UniversityPresident Ken Starr and terminate head Football Coach Art Briles.  The lawsuit claims that Baylor failed to comply with Title IX requirements to investigate and support students who are victims of campus sexual assault.  The complaint was filed in March in the United States District Court, Western District of Texas, Waco Division.   The lawsuit alleges that Football Coach, Art Briles, was well aware of prior sexual assaults by Elliot and failed to take any action to protect other students from this predator.

This week, as news of the Board of Regents actions to possibly terminate or demote President Starr came out, Jasmin has stepped forward to offer her comments to the news media about her case and what she endured as a sexual assault victim at Baylor.

“Jasmin Hernandez showed incredible courage by publicly stepping forward and filing this high profile complaint against the University,” said Irwin Zalkin, attorney for Hernandez.  “As one of several victims of sexual assault by Baylor football players, her lawsuit added to the growing pressure on the University to take action.  Ken Starr, of all people, should have taken action sooner to prevent sexual harassment and assault against female students, and Art Briles should have been terminated long ago.”

The civil complaint outlines the details of alleged sexual assault and rape suffered by the Plaintiff, Jasmin Hernandez, while she was a student at Baylor University.  Ms. Hernandez was a Baylor freshman at the time she was raped by Tevin Elliott, at an off campus location in 2012.   Elliott was eventually charged and convicted of the rape and is presently serving 20 years in prison.  Ms. Hernandez was one of six women who reported that they were either raped or assaulted -- in incidents from October 2009 to April 2012 -- by Elliott, who was convicted on two counts of sexual assault in January 2014 for the incident involving Ms. Hernandez.

The civil complaint details how the Plaintiff reported the rape and sexual assault to university authorities who refused to investigate, and never offered any support or assistance to Jasmin. She also reported the sexual assault to Baylor Campus Police.  She contacted the Baylor Student Health Center to seek counseling and was told there was no one who could help her.

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The Zalkin Law Firm Files Civil Lawsuit Against The Assembly of God Church

CLICK HERE to read the full press release and see the complaint filed on behalf of a victim of childhood sexual abuse while she was a member of the Assembly of God church in Lancaster, CA.
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Zalkin Law Firm Featured in “Center for Investigative Reporting” Report On Childhood Sexual Abuse In The Jehovah’s Witnesses

In-Depth Report Details “Culture of Secrecy” About Sexual AbuseSan Diego, CA, February 16, 2015 – Irwin M. Zalkin of San Diego based Zalkin Law Firm was featured in an in-depth investigative report about childhood sexual abuse in the Jehovah’s Witnesses religion that was issued on Saturday, February 14th by the Center for Investigative Reporting.The report, “Jehovah’s Witnesses use 1st Amendment to hide child sex abuse claims”, by investigative reporter Trey Bundy, features an interview with Irwin Zalkin regarding his recent case in San Diego where his client was awarded $13.5 million for damages from sexual abuse that occurred when he was a child member of a Linda Vista Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation in the 1980’s. In that case, the judge's award including $10.5 million in punitive damages based up on the evidence Zalkin presented of deliberate efforts by Watchtower to cover up its tolerance of child sexual abuse, Watchtower's refusal to follow court orders requiring it to turn over decades of child molestation files within its possession, and Watchtower's refusal to make available the longest serving member of the Governing Body of the Jehovah's Witnesses for a deposition to be taken in Brooklyn, New York.The report examines efforts by the Jehovah’s Witnesses to keep records of childhood sexual abuse secret and features depositions taken from Watchtower officials in the Jose Lopez case in San Diego. In the except below, Zalkin’s question during adeposition reveals the culture of secrecy that seeks to keep incidents of abuse within the Jehovah’s Witnesses from being prosecuted:

During Lopez’s trial, Ashe testified that the Watchtower instructs elders that child abuse must be kept confidential.

“And it directs that that should be kept confidential from prosecuting authorities?” Zalkin asked.

“Yes,” Ashe responded.

The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) was founded in 1977. CIR is nationally respected for setting the highest journalistic standards, and for its signature approach to investigative reporting and collaboration. CIR partners with numerous media organizations to publish stories online, as well as for print, television, radio/audio, video and live events.With NPR PRX, CIR co-produces the nationally distributed “Reveal” radio show and podcast. “Jehovah’s Witnesses use 1st Amendment to hide child sex abuse claims” was featured nationally on NPR PRX on thirty-seven stations on February 14th.The Zalkin Law Firm now has more 16 cases against the Jehovah’s Witnesses representing victims of childhood sexual abuse at different congregations in California, Oregon, Connecticut, New Mexico, Washington and Ohio.“All of these cases show how Elders within the Jehovah’s Witnesses continue to protect child sex abusers by blindly following the company line,” said Irwin Zalkin, of The Zalkin Law Firm, the co-attorney for the Lewis sisters. “The growing number of these cases in the U.S. and Britain shows a reckless and immoral tolerance of child sexual abuse that is ignored at the highest levels by the Governing Body of the Jehovah’s Witnesses who continue to fight to keep such information secret.”Mr. Zalkin is available for media interviews about the CIR report and this topic. The CIR report is available online at:http://www.revealnews.org/article/jehovahs-witnesses-use-1st-amendment-to-hide-child-sex-abuse-claims/About The Zalkin Law FirmWith offices in San Diego and New York, The Zalkin Law Firm is one of the premier sexual abuse and personal injury law firms in the country. The firm's lawyers have represented hundreds of survivors of childhood sexual abuse and achieved groundbreaking results in numerous high-profile clergy abuse cases across the United States. The Zalkin Law Firm has aggressively represented hundreds of survivors of child sexual abuse, including former Boy Scouts. The firm has negotiated over $200 million in settlements in Catholic clergy sex abuse cases.
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Sexual Abuse Victims File Civil Lawsuits Against Oregon Congregation of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and National Organization

Portland, OR, December 1, 2014 – Irwin M. Zalkin of The Zalkin Law Firm and Portland Attorney Kristian Roggendorf, of the Roggendorf Law Firm filed a sexual abuse civil lawsuit today against the North Hillsboro Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, located in Hillsboro, Oregon and the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.  The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Velicia Alston and a second unnamed Plaintiff, John Roe, who were both minor children when their families were active in the Congregation at the time of the alleged abuse.According to the civil complaint, the Plaintiff Velicia Alston was sexually abused as a child by Daniel Castellanos (“Castellanos”) who was a Baptized Publisher and Elder or Ministerial Servant in Hillsboro Congregation.  The complaint alleges that Castellanos sexually abused and molested the plaintiff on multiple occasions when she was approximately 11 or 12 years old.  The civil complaint also includes the allegation that Castellanos sexually abused and molested on multiple occasions a second Plaintiff, John Roe, when he was approximately 8-10 years old.As a result of Castellanos’ sexual abuse, molestation, and breach of trust, the lawsuit alleges that the Plaintiffs suffered and continue to suffer severe and debilitating physical, mental, and emotional injury, including pain and suffering, physical and emotional trauma, and permanent psychological damage distinct from the abuse itself.  The lawsuit asks for damages and future costs for counseling, psychiatric and psychological medical treatment.“We will show that these innocent children had their lives ruined by this Congregational leader and this religious organization, who suppressed its knowledge of a child predator within the Congregation by following the policies imposed by the Governing Body of the Jehovah’s Witnesses to keep such information secret at all cost to avoid scandal and public scrutiny,” said Zalkin.The complaints allege that the defendants named in the case, the Hillsboro Congregation, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc., were negligent in their legal duty to protect the minor children in their care and failed in their duty to prevent the perpetrator, Daniel Castellanos, from sexually molesting children.  The complaint also alleges that the defendants owed a duty to investigate and not employ the perpetrator and failed to conduct a reasonable investigation of the alleged abuse.According to the complaint, the Defendants created a foreseeable risk of Castellanos abusing minor congregants, including Plaintiffs in the following ways:  Failure to report Castellanos to the police;  Failure to train the Jehovah’s Witness Elders and leadership to report to law enforcement allegations of an adult sexually abusing a child;  Failure to screen or exclude Castellanos from contact with children within the Jehovah’s Witness Organization;  Failure to warn Plaintiffs’ parents and parents of similarly situated children of the risk posed by Castellanos after they learned or had reason to learn that he had sexually abused a minor; and  Failure to implement and/or enforce common sense policies to prevent child abuse.This lawsuit is one of several sexual abuse lawsuits that have been filed in the last year against the Jehovah’s Witnesses by The Zalkin Law Firm. The firm now has similar cases pending in California, Connecticut, New Mexico, Vermont and Ohio.  Recently, the Zalkin Law firm represented a victim of childhood sexual abuse at a San Diego Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation who was awarded $13.5 million in damages in a similar case. Irwin Zalkin expects to be admitted pro hac vice in this case. About The Zalkin Law FirmWith offices in San Diego and New York, The Zalkin Law Firm is one of the leading sexual abuse and personal injury firms in the country.  The firm's lawyers have represented hundreds of survivors of childhood sexual abuse and achieved groundbreaking results in numerous high-profile clergy abuse cases across the United States.  The Zalkin Law Firm has aggressively represented survivors who suffered child sexual abuse and sexual assault while members of religious and other organizations, including the Catholic Church, foster care, Boy Scouts, recovery homes, foreign student exchange programs, colleges and the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  The firm has negotiated over $200 million in settlements for victims in Catholic clergy sex abuse cases.  www.zalkin.com.About Kristian RoggendorfFor over 14 years, Kristian Roggendorf has been at the forefront of representing victims of child abuse in Oregon.  He has helped define Oregon law through successful trials and appeals in lawsuits against the Boy Scouts, the Catholic Church, the Mormon Church, public school districts, and the Oregon Department of Human Services, among others.  Recently, Mr. Roggendorf made headlines bringing lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Portland for abuse by notorious child molester Fr. Maurice Grammond, and has over 30 reported cases to his credit, including some of the most significant Oregon child abuse decisions over the last 14 years. 
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The Zalkin Law Firm Wins $13.5 Million Default Judgment Against the Jehovah’s Witnesses Watchtower on behalf of Childhood Sexual Abuse Victim

San Diego, CA (PRWEB) November 02, 2014 San Diego Superior Court Judge Joan M. Lewis has entered a judgment against the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. (Watchtower) for $13.5 million in punitive and compensatory damages in a civil lawsuit filed by the Zalkin Law Firm on behalf of a victim of sexual abuse who was a child member of the Linda Vista Spanish Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1986. Irwin Zalkin led his firm's team of sexual abuse attorneys in this case.Click to read Press Release. 
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Victim's Attorney Reacts to the Release of More Abuse Documents by the Catholic Church

Release of Documents Today by the Chicago Diocese Demonstrates Corporate Policy To Hide Abusers

San Diego, CA, January 21, 2014 Victim's rights attorney, Irwin Zalkin, was not surprised by the latest round of sex abuse documents released today by the Archdiocese of Chicago.

It should come as no surprise that the latest stacks of documents released by the Catholic Church in Chicago once again show the level to which the Church worked to cover up what was known about predator priests within its Archdiocese and elsewhere, said Irwin Zalkin of The Zalkin Law Firm. This is not a diocese by diocese problem. This cover-up has been corporate policy from the very top for decades.

Zalkin stressed that the latest document release in Chicago cannot be looked at in isolation. He pointed out that the Church has been forced by the courts to release similar records in Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston, Portland and elsewhere in recent years in response to court judgments supporting justice for hundreds of victims of priest sexual abuse. Similar cover-ups by the Church can be seen in on-going investigations in Australia, Ireland and Great Britainand with the lack of information recently provided to the Church to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

As we have represented victims who have come forward during the last decade, we have found that the Catholic Church seems to have a corporate practice of covering up the truth about its institutional knowledge of child predators within the ranks of its priests, said Zalkin. We have also seen this pattern of a corporate cover-up of abuse in many other organizations that should be protecting children, like the Boy Scouts, Ultra-Orthodox Jewish groups, and now we are learning of the same problem within the Jehovah's Witnesses, Zalkin continued.

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Access to Justice Denied By Governor's Veto of California Victims Rights Act SB 131

Veto Protects Institutions That Harbored Sex Abusers and Destroys Victims Hopes for Justice

SAN DIEGO, CA (Oct. 12, 2013) Victims rights attorney Irwin Zalkin expressed extreme disappointment with the Governor's veto today of SB 131 by Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose) and pledged to continue to stand by the victims of childhood sex abuse who were victimized in their childhood at private institutions such as the Catholic Church.

Governor Brown's veto of SB 131 is a devastating blow for childhood victims of sexual abuse because the veto in effect continues to protect institutions such as the Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America, Jehovah's Witnesses and Swim USA that have been shown to have shielded sexual predators in their ranks from proper accountability and for years did little to address concerns.

“ On behalf of hundreds of victims who had hoped to access justice under this bill, I am deeply disappointed by the Governor's action, said Zalkin. This legislation was thoroughly analyzed and refined over months of hearings by the legislature was carefully drafted to finally give victims of childhood sexual abuse their day in court.”

The Catholic Church and other organizations hit by molestation scandals had heavily lobbied in opposition to SB 131 with a church-affiliated group hiring a half dozen expensive lobbying firms to lead their fight. The effort by the church included visits by bishops to the Capitol as well as advocacy by priests from the pulpit to turn parishioners against the bill.

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Nationally Recognized Sexual Abuse Victims Attorney Endorses "Truth Be Told"

NEWS

October 9, 2013

Contact: Irwin Zalkin

858-259-3011 office This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Nationally Recognized Sexual Abuse Victims Attorney Endorses New Documentary Film “Truth Be Told”

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The Zalkin Law Firm Files Fourth in a Series of Childhood Sexual Abuse Civil Lawsuits Against Another Jehovah's Witnesses Congregation and National Organization

Alleged Sexual Abuse Occurred at Congregation in Clark County, Washington.

Seattle, WA (PRWEB) September 25, 2013

The fourth in a series of child sex abuse civil lawsuits against Jehovah's Witnesses congregations around the country has now been filed against a congregation in Clark County, Washington.

Click here to see full news release

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The Zalkin Law Firm Files Civil Lawsuit Filed Against National Jehovah's Witnesses Organization and Ohio Congregation On Behalf of Alleged Sexual Abuse Victim

The Zalkin Law Firm and Kircher, Arnold & Dame, filed a civil lawsuit today in the Lorain County Common Pleas Court on behalf of a former child member of the West Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, located in Lorain, OH. The plaintiff, Elizabeth McFarland, was a minor child whose family was active in the congregation at the time of the alleged abuse. Click Here for full release…

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Third in a Series of Sexual Abuse Civil Lawsuits Filed against Jehovah's Witnesses Congregations and National Jehovah's Witnesses Organization

Alleged Childhood Sexual Abuse Occurred at New Mexico Congregation

Albuquerque, NM, August 15, 2013 A third in a series of civil lawsuits against Jehovah's Witnesses congregations around the country has now been filed against a congregation in New Mexico by The Zalkin Law Firm and The Revo/Smith Law Firm. This new lawsuit was filed in the Thirteenth Judicial District Court, County of Valencia, New Mexico, on behalf of a former child member of the Los Lunas Congregation of Jehovah's Witnesses, located in Los Lunas, NM. The plaintiff, Monica Lynn Jaramillo, was a minor child whose family was active in the congregation at the time of the alleged abuse.

Click here for full release

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Civil Lawsuit Filed Against Boy Scouts By Sexual Abuse Victim

Victim Suffered Abuse from Scoutmaster Known as Child Molester

According to Irwin Zalkin, managing partner of the The Zalkin Law Firm, a four count civil lawsuit was filed on June 12th on behalf of a military doctor who, as a teenage Boy Scout in Southern California, suffered multiple acts of sexual abuse by a Scoutmaster with known proclivities towards child molestation. The civil complaint was filed as Drew Belnap v. Defendant Doe 1 Scouting Organization, et. al. , Superior Court of San Diego-North County Judicial District, Case No. 37-2013-00052642-CV-PO-NC.

Click Here for press release…

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