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Linda FairsteinLinda Fairstein is an amazingly accomplished woman and whether you realize it or not – you’ve met her. You’ve met her because she was the head of the Sex Crimes Unit at the Manhattan DA’s office for almost 30 years.

You may remember Linda from some of her high-profile trials, like the “Preppy Murder Case” in 1988, which was the prosecution of Robert Chambers for the Central Park killing of Jennifer Levin.  Linda is also the founder of the Domestic Violence Committee of the New York Women’s Agenda and is on the road giving talks around issues of domestic abuse.

I met Linda at her beautiful home on Martha’s Vineyard and we talked about her work. Linda is a passionate and voracious writer, which is a natural outflow from her experiences in the DA’s office. If you haven’t gotten hooked on her books you may want to try the latest one set in Grand Central Station, her 16th crime novel, Terminal City which was just released this past summer and was an instant New York Times bestseller.

We talked about the risks our kids face on college campuses and how prevalent sexual assault is. I asked Linda about what you would say to your kids going off to college regarding these issues and here’s her advice, which I recommend you forward to your kids.

1. Take the freshman and peer orientation courses training about sexual assault seriously because you or a friend are likely to encounter this problem on campus.

2. Be aware of risks of alcohol abuse and the occurrence of sexual assault.

3. Understand the significance of someone saying no –No means No.

4. When someone appears to have passed out, it is not a smart time to have intercourse. So if the person seems to be incapable of consenting to a sexual act, that may have the same legal effect as saying ‘no.’

5. Stay vigilant about your buddy system.   Especially for young women, there is a real danger of binge drinking even with peers. So whether you are at your frat house or in an unfamiliar place, make sure you have a buddy so everyone gets back to their dorm or apartment safely.

6. Bystander Intervention is the new buzzword and allows anyone who observes a ‘bad’ situation to step in to prevent abuse. Whether or not you are a buddy to the person who appears to be in jeopardy, take responsibility and intervene. Be a Good Samaritan and break up what looks like a potentially dangerous situation.

7. This issue – sexual assault and date rape – is an problem on every college campus in this country. Get familiar with the rules, regulations, and procedures at your school, and also know when it’s appropriate to call 911 and get law enforcement professionals involved in a case.

I learned from Linda that eighty percent of sexual assaults are committed between people who know each other and that rape is the second most serious crime in any penal law anywhere – murder is the only more serious issue than this. And, one of the most challenging issues for colleges today is that schools are mandated by the federal government to do their own adjudications now. Linda speaks of this challenge as training an academic or student to be an investigator and prosecutor, which has created huge issues for college administrators.

We talked about how societal views have changed since our time in school. In the 70’s and 80’s when women were “blamed” for their victimization, they were discouraged from stepping forward and were often afraid to speak out.   But over the last 10 years, the word ‘rape’ has been leveled against many students, and now the problem is whether either party – the accuser or the young man who stands accused – is getting any semblance of due process in the college adjudication system.

It’s no surprise that Linda Fairstein is being called on regularly to speak about sexual assault on college campuses. Earlier this year, she keynoted the first national conference on this issue at the University of Virginia.

If you want to hear Linda discuss the topics of domestic violence and sexual assault – or her books – check out her website or facebook page, which list her speaking engagements. Linda says that at her book talks women are especially interested in the law and special victims issues.

 

 

Felice Interviews Sex Crime Expert and Author Linda Fairstein on Sexual Assault Issues At College was last modified: by

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