Sexual Harassment Articles

Sexual Abuse & Misconduct Program Articles and Newsletters

Educator Sexual Misconduct and Harassment Part 1: Sexual Abuse Rumors are Gold! Mine Them for the Truth

Educator Sexual Misconduct and Harassment Part 2: Tandem Investigations with Differing Intent


Sexual Abuse & Misconduct Program Article Archives

Student Sexual Harassment: The Winning Combination: Prevent and Investigate
By Mary Jo McGrath,Attorney at Law
Heads Up!
The U.S. Department of Education new civil rights chief has put school districts on notice that protecting students from sexual harassment will be a top priority. In one of her first acts as assistant secretary for civil rights, Stephanie Monroe recently informed school district leaders across the country that the department will launch a series of compliance reviews to evaluate how schools are dealing with sexual-harassment issues. School districts have direct liability for failure to educate, process complaints or investigate matters involving sexual harassment – whether student to student, adult to student, adult to adult or student to adult. more…

Please Don’t Say Anything, But . . .!: Confidentiality and Sexual Harassment Liability
By Mary Jo McGrath, Attorney at Law
There you are, sitting at your desk, tending to business. In walks a distraught employee, looks at you with distress in their eyes and says the often heard words, “Please don’t say anything, but I just have to tell someone …” more…

Complaint Management and Investigation: Do It Well or Pay the Prince!
By Mary Jo McGrath, Attorney at Law
It’s a whole new day and age. What used to be tolerated is no longer tolerable. The law has stepped in with steel jaws to clamp down on the issues of workplace discrimination that include race, national origin, religion, age, disability, sex, gender, and sexual orientation. Sexual harassment suits alone are now regularly drawing multi-million dollar awards. These are issues whose day has come with a vengeance and you and your organization need to get on the intervention train or prepare to be run over more…

The Bread Crumb Trail: A Straight Line from Sexual Misconduct
Broader Examination of Sexual Misconduct Critical to Protecting Nation’s School Children
By Mary Jo McGrath, Attorney at Law
More than 4.5 million students endure sexual misconduct by employees of their schools, ranging from inappropriate jokes all the way to forced sex, according to a new report prepared by Charol Shakeshaft, a Hofstra University professor. Dr. Shakeshaft prepared the report to Congress in compliance with No Child Left Behind legislation requiring analysis of sexual abuse in our public schools. (Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature, US Department of Education, Charol Shakeshaft, 2004.) Sexual abuse is defined by federal legislation as involving an act where one knowingly “causes another person to engage in a sexual act by threatening or placing that other person in fear more…

Altering The Culture of Cruelty: Impacting Student Bullying, Ridicule and Harassment
By Mary Jo McGrath, Attorney at Law
Founder/President, McGrath Systems, Inc.
Larry walks into your office. He looks at his feet and mumbles something. Larry has been bullied and ridiculed since the fifth grade. Now, he is a sophomore. The name calling, isolation and physical attacks have gotten worse over the past few months. This time, Larry fought back. You need to respond quickly. You ask questions like: “What happened?” “Why did you go after Tom?” ” What’s going on?” “Why didn’t you come to me sooner?” He looks at you and says, “You just don’t understand.” more…

Supervise, Investigate, Train, Child Sexual Abuse
By Mary Jo McGrath, Attorney at Law
School administrator liability for sexual abuse by employees is a rapidly developing area of the law. In recent cases, administrators have been held personally liable. Courts and administrative agencies are trying different standards for conduct as the debate continues. Until the law is settled, educators and their lawyers will have to deal with a degree of uncertainty about their legal duties to students for sexual misconduct by school employees. more…

Good Judgment and Common Sense: 2001 Office for Civil Rights Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance: An analysis
By Mary Jo McGrath, Attorney at Law
On January 19, 2001, the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued its long-anticipated revised sexual harassment guidance entitled, “Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance: Harassment of Students by School Employees, Other Students, or Third Parties”. Stressing that it is not deviating essentially from its earlier (March 13, 1997) guidelines, OCR issued the revisions because two recent important U.S. Supreme Court cases dealt expressly with Title IX and sexual harassment in educational institutions that are covered by Title IX. more…

Measure Twice, Cut Once: Interagency Coordinating of Sexual Harassment or Abuse Investigation
By Mary Jo McGrath, Attorney at Law
Your office phone rings and you’re told a student is in tears, saying her classmate has hit her and touched her in a “bad place.” You want action. What to do?! You remember your training as a mandatory reporter to call Child Protective Services when you suspect child abuse. Since child abuse can occur student to student, regardless of the age of the students involved, the report is made. But your duties have just begun. more…

The Psychodynamics of School Sexual Abuse Investigations: An Attorney’s Inside Look
By Mary Jo McGrath, Attorney at Law
Sexual abuse of school children by educators is far more prevalent than we would like to believe. During 18 years of legal practice representing school boards, at least 40 percent of the school-employee discipline cases I have worked with have involved sexual misconduct by employees toward students. more…

Same-Sex Harassment in the Workplace: The United States Supreme Court Renders its Verdict
By: William D. Berard III , Attorney at Law, McGrath Trainer
In the past we have viewed the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace as unwelcome conduct which was sexual in nature and gender based. Such conduct is prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Act. These statutes afford complainants legal recourse, including money damages. more…

Sexual Harassment Investigation: Vital Tips and Techniques for Interviewing
By Mary Jo McGrath, Attorney at Law
Interviewing is an art form, just like Olympic level athletics or masterful debating. Like any art form, perfection of the skill demands an appreciation of the basics of the discipline and constant practice. If interviewing is approached in this manner, there is a much greater likelihood of success. more…

Shield Yourself from Sexual Harassment Liability
By Mary Jo McGrath, Attorney at Law
Failure to take prompt remedial action in response to an employee’s complaint of sexual harassment significantly increases the risk of legal liability. A proper investigation can shield an employer and its managers from the most prevalent type of sexual harassment lawsuit. more…

Student Sexual Harassment: Powerful Guidance Provided by Federal Agency
By Mary Jo McGrath, Attorney at Law
Strong, clear guidance was published March 13, 1997 by the federal government regarding sexual harassment of students by peers, employees and third parties. The OCR is the agency mandated by law to interpret and enforce the federal legislation prohibiting sexual harassment in our schools. more…

The Early Warning Signs of Sexual Harassment and Abuse In School
By Mary Jo McGrath, Attorney at Law
Sexual harassment and abuse in school are serious situations. What an understatement considering the emotional devastation caused by these situations and the multimillion dollar pay outs coast to coast: $4.0 million in a Davenport, WA, school district and $2.3 million dollars in a Galway, NY, school district. Too often our administrators say, “But how was I to know?” They are untrained in the early warning signs of sexual harassment and abuse in school. If they were trained in early detection, they could better protect both the potential victims of such conduct and the district’s financial resources. more…

Toward a Paradigm of Respect and Responsibility: Training Students in Sexual Harassment Awareness
By Mary Jo McGrath, Attorney at Law
One of the key components in implementing a comprehensive sexual harassment awareness and prevention program is student training. Providing such training not only reduces your district’s risk of liability, but is a key factor in the timely detection and investigation of complaints and ultimately in eradicating incidents of sexual harassment from the school environment. more…


External Publications (Mary Jo McGrath, Expert Consultant)

Administrator’s Alert: Sexual Harassment is Everybody’s Business
By Bradley Scott, M.A.
It was in October 1995 that the U.S. District Court for Western Missouri ruled that a school district has a duty to take affirmative action to prevent sexual harassment of students by other students under Title IX….School districts throughout the region are becoming increasingly concerned about their responsibilities under the law regarding sexual harassment. Are they liable to protect students against sexual harassment? Can they be sued? Will they have to pay damages if it is found that they failed to take corrective action where they had knowledge that a hostile environment existed? Can principals be sued? Should districts take out liability insurance for campus administrators? Should campus administrators bear the burden of damages as a part of the responsibility they take on when they assume principalships? more…

Expensive, Illegal and Wrong: Sexual Harassment in Our Schools
By Elaine Yaffe
Not so long ago, it was seen as merely part of the perennial battle of the sexes – part of the mating game that begins as soon as girls and boys realize they are different from one another. Behavior that started in schoolyards with jingles – “I see London, I see France, I see Susie’s underpants” – moved into classrooms where boys put pigtails in inkwells…. more…

Harassment in the Halls
By Alyson Hendrickson Wentz
Elizabeth hates school. In elementary school she was a good student, but once she got into middle school things changed. She and her female friends are constantly subjected to sexual slurs, jokes and suggestions from their male classmates. And the verbal harassment is nothing compared to the physical harassment. The boys pinch, fondle, grope and rub up against Elizabeth and her friends as they walk down the hallways, stand at their lockers or wait in line for lunch. more…

Sexual Harassment Investigative Training: Prepares educators to prevent, investigate, stop offensive environments in schools
By DaLaena Neff, Horizons Editor
It happens everywhere. There is not one school district who is immune to it.
“It’s always been around. It’s always been hostile, it’s always been offensive, but now it’s being recognized as being against the law. It is illegal for this type of conduct to continue,” William D. Berard, III, attorney at law and senior McGrath Trainer, said at the Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Investigation Training, April 4-5, 2001, in Kansas City, MO. more…