While I was a student, I was sexually assaulted by my professor. This case went to trial and he was found guilty. Can I sue the college? Two other women testified that he also assaulted them. They were both separate cases. Those cases happened years before I was assaulted. Can I hold the school accountable for what happened to me?
There is a doctrine in law called "respondeat superior." It means that the master answers for the wrongdoing of the servant. Usually, if the wrongdoing occurred within the scope of the employment, viacarious liability of the type you suggest will be available. Make sure, however, you act within the time of the applicable statute of limitations.
Good luck to you.
Michael S. Haber is a New York attorney. As such, his responses to posted inquiries, such as the one above, are limited to his understanding of law in the jurisdiction in which he practices and not to any other jurisdiction. In addition, no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to constitute legal advice, nor to constitute the existence of an attorney/client or other contractual or fiduciary relationship, inasmuch as legal advice can only be provided in circumstances in which the attorney is able to ask questions of the person seeking legal advice and to thus gather appropriate information.
The short answer is yes, there are a number of theories of recovery you should be able to pursue - particularly if the college was on notice of the professor's prior alleged assaults on other women.
There are, however, quite a few questions that would need to be answered, such as whether the assault occurred on campus, the circumstances of the assault, what the college knew and when, what actions the college took, etc.
You need to speak with an attorney in your jurisdiction as soon as possible to ensure that you take action within the statute of limitations.
This response is merely a general discussion of an issue based on the information provided. It is not intended as legal advice and does not form an attorney-client relationship. You are encouraged to seek out an attorney of your choosing in your local jurisdiction, and to discuss your legal issue with that attorney.
You need to get an attorney now and worry later about whether you will win. The facts are sufficient to support initiating a lawsuit. Let a competent attorney draft and file a complaint and then let the attorneys representing you and the university work through all of the legal issues.
My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.