The Zalkin Law Firm is proud to represent sexual assault survivors against large institutions and corporations. In our firm’s latest case, Attorney Alex Zalkin is advocating for a former student of the University of Southern California (USC) Gould School of Law who alleges her rape investigation was mishandled by the campus Title IX Office during her third year of law school.
Attorney Zalkin and Whittier’s Case Against USC
As a graduate of the Gould School of Law, Attorney Zalkin is committed to ensuring the safety of those attending his alma mater. He stands steadfast with our client, Courtney Whittier, and her allegations that USC violated Title IX and discriminated against her in favor of her alleged rapist.
“[USC] literally, intentionally predetermined the outcome of her complaint before the investigation was even done,” Attorney Zalkin told USC Annenberg Media in an interview. “And that’s a clear violation of Title IX. It’s clearly discrimination against Courtney.”
Whittier claims that the former Title IX Officer for USC, Gretchen Dahlinger Means, biased the investigation, as Means allegedly told the accused’s lawyer that the investigation would rule in favor of Whittier “over [Means’] dead body.” Moreover, the lawsuit alleges that Means granted the accused’s lawyer access to all evidence about the rape before the perpetrator was required to submit evidence, giving him an advantage in framing what he submitted to the investigator.
Not to mention, Whittier was made to wait an entire 24 hours before she was able to move forward with a formal investigation — a requirement mandated by Means. When this 24-hour period finally passed, Whittier’s calls were not returned and she had to contact the Law School Dean about her complaint. This delay, along with the advantage given to the accused’s lawyer, are clear violations of federal Law under Title IX and USC policies surrounding Title IX investigations.
USC’s History of Sexual Assault Scandals
USC has a tainted track record when it comes to handling workplace misconduct, including sexual assault cases. For example, a KCET report detailed a separate lawsuit which alleges that USC administrators destroyed and/or hid records, as well as maintained so-called shadow files to retaliate against any employees who decided to blow the whistle on offending USC officials. That lawsuit further alleged that records were destroyed despite the fact that the university was notified to preserve such evidence.
In addition, the KCET report details allegations in the lawsuit specifically naming Means and alleging that Means retaliated against the plaintiff, a former USC employee, getting them fired from their position at the USC Center for Work and Family Life after they reported that John Gaspari, Means’ husband, was previously “convicted of misusing graphic photographs involving another woman.”
Other alleged instances of Means’ misconduct include her attempt to dismiss a complaint of campus violence merely because it took place during the weekend and her dismissal of sexual assault complaints concerning George Tyndall, a former USC health center gynecologist, without conducting any investigations.
These allegations of dismissing complaints against Tyndall is alarming because, according to the Los Angeles Times, survivors have been alleging the existence of such groundless dismissals since 1988. While Tyndall continues to claim innocence, he was charged with 18 felony counts of sexual penetration and 11 felony counts of sexual battery by fraud. Furthermore, a federal judge approved a $215 million settlement to be paid out to hundreds of women who have alleged abuse, as reported by The New York Times.
The Fight Against Corruption at USC
Currently, neither Means nor Gaspari hold a position at USC. However, the university is still responsible for the actions of its previous employees, especially when those actions led to rape allegations being swept under the rug and sexual assault survivors suffering prolonged trauma.
“[USC] failed to enact effective policies that could have prevented Courtney’s assault from happening to begin with, and also in the way that it failed to respond to Courtney’s assault in a manner that was effective and reasonable,” Attorney Zalkin told USC Annenberg Media.
“USC has a legal responsibility under Title IX to protect survivors by taking their claims seriously. The bias and indifference shown by USC officials that Whittier faced when she came forward to report her rape has intensified her trauma. The Zalkin Law Firm is proud to stand by her side in her fight for justice and closure.”
About The Zalkin Law Firm
The Zalkin Law Firm has won multi-million-dollar verdicts and settlements for sexual assault survivors in California, New York and throughout the country. The firm has taken on large institutions and corporations, earning national recognition for achieving landmark wins for its clients. If you are seeking legal counsel in regards to a sexual assault or abuse claim, our attorneys are here to help you stand up to your abuser. You are not alone. Contact us online today to request a free consultation.