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High turnover at university creates instability for sexual assault survivors who need services

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On the George Washington University campus, there are several positions that are set up solely to help sexual assault victims. But according to a recent article from the campus newspaper, there is a frequent turnover for these crucial jobs, and victims and experts say the high turnover rate “creates an unstable environment” for the vulnerable people who need support. The paper reports that there have been three victim services coordinators – who provide support for victims during the reporting process – over the past three years, with an interim filling the vital role since the fall. The school says the turnover rate has nothing to do with the job itself, and that it’s normal for institutions of this size to have these kinds of turnover. There’s currently only one full-time staff member in the Title IX office. Shan Wu, a former federal prosecutor who focused on sex crimes for the…

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How Will the Trump Administration Handle Sexual Assault on Campus?

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This week, I was interviewed by Danielle Masterson with WHDT World News about my thoughts on how the Trump Administration should handle cases of sexual assault on campus. Here’s the video and transcription: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_BpmEw20rA0 Transcription: Danielle Masterson: Spring practice is just around the corner for football players at Michigan State. But media should not expect much from Coach Mark Dantonio. He’s not scheduled to meet with media, with his team returning to the practice field. It’s a significant departure from previous years and it likely has to do with campus sexual assault. There’s a criminal investigation into an alleged sexual assault involving 3 unidentified MSU football players, and a fourth person from the University. A full title 9 investigation is under weigh. For more on this sensitive topic, we turn to Shan Wu a former federal sex crime prosecutor and current defense attorney for students. Shan, for those who don’t…

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Did colleges overreact to the sexual assault crisis across the nation?

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Did colleges and universities overreact to the sexual assault crisis on campuses across the nation? According to student defense attorney Shanlon Wu, a former prosecutor who used to prosecute sexual assault cases, it’s more of an “overcorrection” that eliminates a lot of protections for the accused that they would usually get in a court of law. Wu shared his thoughts in an opinion piece for The Washington Post. “I know firsthand that prosecutors and police both consider sexual assault investigations to be among the most difficult cases to investigate and prosecute,” Wu wrote. Wu explained that police and prosecutors are wary when it comes to sexual assault cases involving college students, particularly because there’s often alcohol involved with one or both parties to the case. If alcohol was a factor, the victim could be rendered an ineffective witness, which could significantly weaken the case. When colleges and universities responded to…

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Teen Vogue speaks with Shan Wu about Jeff Sessions

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Jeff Sessions, the new U.S. attorney general under President Donald Trump, is no stranger to controversy. Sessions, who served as a U.S. senator for Alabama until the Senate confirmed him by a vote of 52-47, was confirmed on the first day of Black History Month. It’s a point of irony for some people who questioned his ability to run the U.S. Justice Department fairly and without bias after comments supporting the KKK, except for the hate group’s use of marijuana. In fact, his reportedly racist comments stopped him from being appointed as a federal judge in 1986. Teen Vogue recently talked with Shan Wu, a former federal prosecutor who worked for the same agency that Sessions is now overseeing, about the heavy-duty responsibilities that America’s newest attorney general is facing. Wu, who also served as an adviser to former Attorney General Janet Reno, explained that the U.S. Justice Department has…

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UNL offers free legal help to students

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College students at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) campus can get legal advice on campus and even hire a lawyer  – for free. The university gives free legal help and represents students through a department called Student Legal Services. It’s a program that’s paid for completely with student fees. Shan Wu, a former federal prosecutor who’s based in Washington, D.C., and specializes in defending college students, said calling a lawyer should be the first thing you do if you think you could be in trouble. It’s a “no-brainer,” Wu said, particularly if the consequences of your offense – like suspension or expulsion – could affect your education. Of the 1,250 cases that Student Legal Services handles at the university each year, 25-30 percent of them are criminal charges. Of those cases, the majority are alcohol-related offenses. Jeffrey White, an attorney for Student Legal Services, said it’s crucial to get a…

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Baltimore prosecutor on woman reporting rape

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The U.S. Justice Department released a 167-page bombshell of a report August 10 on the Baltimore Police Department. Although the report was released in response to the controversy surrounding the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, buried at the bottom of the report was a disturbing find: Officers with the Baltimore Police Department often mishandle or dismiss sexual assault complaints. According to the Justice Department’s findings, detectives frequently neglected to interview suspects or send DNA for analysis. In a four-year period between 2010 and 2014, just 15 percent of adult sexual assault rape kits were tested. Even more troubling is that the “gender bias” of police officers was a major factor in officers choosing not to properly investigate sexual assaults. Officers are accused of asking women questions like, “Why are you messing up that guy’s life?” In 2015, 17 percent of sexual assault reports concluded with an arrest….

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Remembering Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis

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The longest-serving lawyer in the United States Justice Department died on July 12th.  Associate Deputy Attorney General David Margolis was 76. Margolis began his service at DOJ under Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach who had been Attorney General Robert Kennedy’s Deputy Attorney General.  Margolis served under 19 U.S. Attorney General’s over the span of 51 years.  The very definition of a career government lawyer, Margolis was a maverick in his dress code (he regularly wore T-shirts to meetings with Attorney Generals) but a loyalist in his heart.  His obituary appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, TIME, and NPR to name but a few.  Much ado about a mere civil servant. In the leadership offices at the Justice Department, one’s stature is marked by the difficulty of the matters placed in one’s “portfolio.”  Margolis had the most difficult ones; including being tasked with the search of White House Counsel Vince…

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NPR Feature: Outrage Grows Over Jail Sentence for Stanford Sexual Assault

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Outrage over a six-month jail sentence for a Stanford student convicted of the sexual assault of an unconscious woman is intensifying. A leaked statement from the perpetrator’s father saying his son was being unfairly punished for “20 minutes of action” went viral, as did a wrenching letter by the victim to the court. Thousands have signed petitions demanding a lengthier sentence and for the judge who oversaw the case to be removed from the bench. NPR forum, including Shanlon Wu, discusses the Stanford case and the problem of campus sexual assault. Article Link: http://ww2.kqed.org/forum/2016/06/06/2010101855045/ Listen to the show here TRANSCRIPT: Outrage Grows Over Jail Sentence for Stanford Sexual Assault Krasny: from KQUED public radio in San Francisco. Coming up on forum this morning on our opening hour outrage over a 6-month jail sentence for a Stanford student convicted for the sexual assault of an unconscious woman is intensifying. A lead statement from the…

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Baylor is hit again with accusations of Title IX violations

By | usa today | No Comments

Per usual, Baylor’s football team is making national headlines. However, this time it has nothing to do with the team’s performance on the field. Rather, it has to do with its performance off it. According to a USA Today article entitled “Baylor faces Title IX Lawsuit over Sex Assault” by A.J. Perez, this past March, a woman Jasmin Hernandez was raped by a former Baylor football player, Tevin Elliot. However, Hernandez claimed the school “failed to properly respond to the accusation of sexual abuse and dating violence” and therefore filed a suit against Baylor for IX violations. In an attempt to bolster its PR and salvage itself after these accusations were made public, Baylor fired both its football head coach and athletic director as well as removed its president Ken Starr. However, it may just have been too little too late. Now, according to Perez, less than two months after…

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Stanford rape case: ‘It happened in full view’

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The circumstances surrounding the Stanford rape case that made international headlines for the rapist’s seemingly light prison sentence are, indeed, unique. As reported in The New York Times, former Stanford University champion swimming Brock Turner was convicted in March of sexually assaulting a 22-year-old woman behind a dumpster. Like many campus sexual assault cases, it happened after a liquor-fueled party at a frat house, and Turner initially claimed that the encounter was consensual. But unlike many other cases, Turner’s actions were halted by two graduate students who happened to be riding bicycles when they saw Turner on top of the victim, “thrusting his pelvis toward her.” In this article, Thomas Fuller of The Times interviewed defense attorney Shanlon Wu, who specializes in defending college students and also in college sexual assault cases. Wu told the reporter that this case “had unimpeachable witnesses.” “Someone was basically caught red-handed,” Wu said. Turner…

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