Hillsdale College Student Sexual Abuse

Lawsuit asserts that Hillsdale College violated Title IX and state law by not properly investigating several reports of sexual assault on its campus and not adhering to its own inadequate sexual misconduct policy

Lieff Cabraser and co-counsel have filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of two women against Hillsdale College accusing it of failing to adequately investigate their reports of sexual assault and violating their rights under Title IX and Michigan state law. The complaint also alleges that Hillsdale College subjected the survivors to a series of distressing and damaging experiences after they reported incidents of sexual assault on campus.

The plaintiffs, Grace Chen and Danielle Villarreal, have come forward to demand justice and accountability from the College. The complaint in the lawsuit highlights several disturbing and inadequate aspects of the college’s response to sexual assault allegations on its campus. Specifically, Hillsdale College’s existing “sexual misconduct policy” is criticized for its lack of emphasis on consent, excessive discretion afforded to college Deans in investigations and punishments, and a failure to guarantee confidentiality for reporting students.

In 2021, both women allege they were sexually assaulted by fellow students when enrolled at Hillsdale College. However, when both women reported these incidents to Hillsdale College officials, the College did not provide any support services or safety accommodations, nor did it furnish any formal, written documentation of its investigation—despite numerous requests from the women and their families. Furthermore, Hillsdale College did not take any meaningful disciplinary action against the assailants, whom both women would see regularly on campus and at school events.

Hillsdale College, founded in 1844 in Hillsdale, Michigan, describes itself as a “nonsectarian Christian institution” that “maintains ‘by precept and example’ the immemorial teachings and practices of the Christian faith.” All dormitories are sex-segregated and the Regulations for Proper Student Contact speak in terms of the school’s “high moral standards.” Hillsdale College has claimed that it is not bound by Title IX due to its non-acceptance of federal educational funds—a position challenged by the survivors. They argue that the college’s nonprofit status and accompanying tax exemption, among other benefits, require the school to follow Title IX.

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    Sexual Abuse Lawyers at Lieff Cabraser

    Lieff Cabraser represents survivors across the U.S. who have been victimized by sexual violence and sexual abuse. We treat every client with care, respect, and compassion as we bring our comprehensive legal skills forward on each case. We have a dedicated team of lawyers, nurse consultants, and paralegals experienced in working with and listening to survivors who work individually with every client in every case to see that justice is won.

    If a school, church, sports team, hospital, or another institution failed to protect you from abuse, we may be able to help you hold that institution accountable, and possibly seek compensation and practice changes to prevent that failure from happening again to you or others. We urge you to contact a survivor’s rights lawyer at Lieff Cabraser today about your potential case and recovery.

    If you were the victim of abuse unrelated to a larger institution, representation by our firm may not be the best option for your situation. We encourage you to consider representation by other attorneys, as well as support from resources like RAINN.orgWomensLaw.orgMaleSurvivor.org1in6.org (another resource for male survivors), iSurvive.org, and AfterSilence.org.

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