What Role Do Institutions Have In Sexual Assault and Abuse Cases

March 29, 2023
real talk with susan and kristina podcast

In this episode of Real Talk, KJK Student Defense Attorneys Susan Stone and Kristina Supler are joined by fellow attorney Brian Kent, a 15-year expert in seeing civil damages for victims of sexual abuse and assault.  Topics that they discuss are related to sexual abuse and assault in students.  The conversation includes how trauma can be used to serve others, the body’s reaction to assault when there’s no physical evidence, and what roles institutions play in being held responsible in assault cases.

Show Notes:

  • (03:14)  Why Brian Kent teams up with attorneys from across the US
  • (04:43)  How Brian channeled his own tragedy into helping other victims of sexual abuse
  • (08:20)  How people can use trauma to serve others
  • (10:47)  A Simple way to explain the emotional injury to a jury
  • (11:49)  The physical impact emotional injury has on the brain (Neurobiology of Trauma)
  • (15:27)  Can you spot trauma or assault if there’s no physical evidence?
  • (16:24)  The importance of having open communication with your children about abuse
  • (18:41)  How Susan builds and empowers her kids to speak up
  • (22:43)  What role do institutions play in protecting students
  • (25:23)  Are high schools worse for hazing than colleges?
  • (28:33)  How cancel culture damages students in school
  • (29:42)  How not taking action can make organizations legally responsible for assault
  • (33:07)  Under what conditions can victims can seek damages from perpetrators
  • (35:39)  How helping people with the civil process helps the healing process
  • (37:35)  Why sexual predators commit acts of assault



Susan Stone: So Kristina, we have a really bizarre practice. 

Kristina Supler: Why’s that? 

Susan Stone: I’m going to tell you because we don’t do just one thing. You can’t put us in a box. It’s like that line from dirty dancing. Nobody puts baby in a corner. 

When I think about what we deal with on a given day, we’re everywhere. 

Kristina Supler: Well, and I think that just like you can’t put our practice in a box, you really can’t put our clients in a box either. Because we’re dealing with so many different types of legal issues and people all over the country, students with problems that they want help with. 

Susan Stone: Yeah. And I, I noticed that starting a couple years ago, our first sadly wrongful death case came to us. And then we started working in a couple personal injury cases and that’s forced us to grow into an area that I would’ve never identified as. 

Kristina Supler: Yeah, and it’s interesting too, I mean, we’re so passionate about getting the best result possible for our clients. We team up with so many different professionals all over the country. 

Susan Stone: What’s interesting about our client or our podcast today is that we’re actually having someone that we worked with on a case and hope to work with in the future.

And a lot of people would be like, why are you putting another lawyer on your podcast? I mean, aren’t you worried about drawing business away from yourself? I mean, that’s the question. 

Kristina Supler: Yeah, and I think that the answer is no. We’re not afraid of that. We are passionate about what we do, and we wanna get, again, the best result possible.

So we’re really pleased to be joined today by Brian Kent. Brian is a nationally recognized advocate for victims’ rights. Brian has dedicated his career to seeking justice for survivors of abuse, assault, and exploitation. 

As a former sex crimes prosecutor in Philadelphia, Brian’s an advocate for justice for all crime victims. He’s handled many high profile cases, including representing survivors of Jerry Sandusky, boarding and school boarding, school abuse, and also clergy abuse. 

Now, Susan alluded to not too long ago, we paired up with Brian on a really interesting case and resolved it quite favorably.

Welcome, Brian. 

Brian Kent: Thank you both. 

Susan Stone: Great, great meeting with you. And it was great working with you and I think what made the case be it was more enjoyable to work on together is that we saw, sort of saw the case from our lens of what we do representing students involved in disciplinary processes at school.

And the team you gave us, we worked a lot with your colleague Mike, sought from a personal injury perspective, is that typical for you to pair with other lawyers? 

Brian Kent: Yeah, I think our practice You know, since day one, given our specialization in these types of cases, we would get a lot of calls from folks around the country to come in and, and help with, uh, either a sexual abuse, assault, or trafficking case.

And I think given our background of most of us, if not all of us, on the crime victim team being former prosecutors there’s oftentimes, as you both know, an ongoing criminal case. And that’s an important aspect of sort of healing for the survivors in these cases. And being able to have a former prosecutor who knows the ins and outs of that process can talk to the detective or the da.

And then also handle the civil case was something unique and I think continues to be unique for our clients. I’d say the large majority of our cases are cases where we have been asked to come in with, in like a co-counsel situation like we all had and and help out or us, getting a case in state Ohio and calling you and saying, Hey, let’s team up.

I think, and I get a lot of enjoyment from those relationships as well and, and a lot and I learn a lot too. Our practice is really built on that sort of bedrock. 

Kristina Supler: Brian, I’d like to talk for a moment about something personal when Susan and I were reading about your background and preparing to talk with you a bit today.

We read that you are a survivor of sexual abuse, so can you tell us how that has led to your work today? 

Brian Kent: Yeah, sure. So I was, I went to Catholic grade school in Catholic high school in the Philadelphia area. Was an altar boy. Um, we had a abusive priest that came in, was head of the altar boys when I was in fourth and fifth grade.

And then was shipped out two years later. Why we don’t know yet but hopefully someday we will. But and he had abused me multiple times in the church area or in our church, oh my god, school, of like together. And in the rectory area. And I would say, you know, I always I talk about like.

I would say subconsciously probably directed my career, but I was never. Like definitively, like this is what I’m gonna do. But when I went to the DA’s office, I started prosecuting sex crimes and specifically child sexual abuse cases. And throughout my career, I think it’s helped me tremendously, not just from a standpoint of being able to communicate with my clients and like truly understand how difficult it is not just to say, Hey, I’m gonna file a lawsuit. 

But just to talk to anybody about it, I mean, I still have difficulty talking about it. And it took me a very long time to even talk about it in the first place. So, having that connection with survivors that come in to talk to me about their cases I think is incredibly important for them.

Um, it’s also important for me that they know you know that I truly do understand somewhat of what they have gone through and what they’re going through. And I also think, like from a perspective of trying cases and conveying to a jury the impact on someone it gives me a unique perspective.

And I think voice to really help people understand how many different ways this impacts an individual to make sure that the jury, when they’re making their decision, um, adequately has a full sort of backdrop of every single aspect that this goes into somebody’s life. Um, whether that means, as a child growing your relationship with your parents your job, your ability to trust other people, your marriage ultimately when you have kids addiction issues, things of that nature. 

I mean, there’s just so many different realms that it can go into, and, uh, I think it really helps that I can then I have personal experience in that regard, so I’ve tried to use something as horrific as that.

As sort of a positive aspect in my life and just recognize that, it put me on a journey to where I’m at today and, and, uh, you know, as not a day, I probably don’t go by that. I don’t think about it. But I also just try to use it the best way that I can use it.

Susan Stone: I just listened to a podcast this weekend. As a podcaster, I love to poke in, see what other people are doing, and it was on a topic that I struggle with, which is, What is my purpose? Because I just, maybe it’s a middle-aged and I’m sure it’s a middle-aged thing, but I think it’s something I’ve wrestled with my whole life that what am I, why am I on this earth it?

It just can’t be to walk through the day, get up, go to work, make dinner, raise my. Not that those aren’t incredibly important aspects of my life, but I, I’d like to think that we all are on this earth for some really important reason. And in this podcast that I listened to, the guest said something and it was my aha moment.

The guest said that we go through trauma and there’s, and that the ultimate way to find your purpose is to use that trauma as a way to serve others. Because everybody goes through some sort of trauma. Everybody is in pain, and if you can take what you do and be a bomb to somebody else, then it’s not for nothing that you went through that experience.

And I was thinking about my own life story and I’ve had a lot of traumatic moments and I. I know it’s what makes me fight for clients because I wanted to feel when I was down and out, the people who were most important to me, who were those who weren’t gonna stay neutral but would stand up and fight.

And it’s my gift and my curse cuz sometimes I fight too hard and I don’t listen.

Kristina Supler: And I think it’s interesting to think about, you know, it’s interesting that you bring up this idea of trauma and purpose, and we’re talking about it in the context. Employers on a podcast, but I think that it’s so important to think about how a, a job isn’t necessarily the ends and means of the, the whole end of your purpose. But a vehicle that allows you to achieve that.

And I think what I’m hearing, a common theme among the three of us is that we really enjoy what we do and it helps us look to the greater greater good we can do. 

Susan Stone: We’ve got a lot of calls about emotional distress damages. And we had a blow recently with the law in terms of Title IX cases, which is the bulk of what we do. You cannot recover emotional distress damages for a Title IX action.

However you recover emotional distress. And we’d love your insight because people are like, I’m so upset. Do they have to go to therapy? And if sending someone to therapy contrived And does there need to be a physical injury attached? Help talk about emotional distress, cuz I must talk about it once a week.

What about you, Kristina? 

Kristina Supler: Well, and everyone we speak to has really suffered and experienced a, a trauma that is impacting their lives in very real ways. And it’s hard to say that as a lawyer, oh, sorry. The, the law’s not gonna recognize that here. But maybe there are other contexts. So, Brian, what, what are your thoughts on that topic?

Brian Kent: Yeah, so it’s funny because I always the way that I present call them emotional distress Injuries to a jury is, and it’s true. Is that it’s a brain injury. And it’s, it is a physical injury. It’s a brain injury that has happened as a result of trauma. You have a brain injury where somebody hits their head really hard against the car window if they’re hit.

This is just a different type of brain injury. But that doesn’t mean it’s not as devastating as that scenario. And I, I really get into the neurobiology of the trauma. So what area of the brain is it affecting and how is it manifesting it as a result of that change? And I think we have seen a huge progression over the past couple years in terms of being able to measure this.

I mean, there, there are you know, some studies that have been done to to show what happens to the brain when there is abuse and neglect at a young age. And how can you physically see that on something like you know, a CT scan or CAT scan or something like that. 

And you physically can see change changes in the brain. Not all the time. But there are cells in the brain that change and areas of the brain that there may be deficits as a result of the actual trauma that’s occurred. Especially if it’s over a, a significant period of time that a jury can look at and say, oh my gosh, like, yeah, clearly there is, there has been this, this trauma that’s affected the brain.

We’ve started through organization that I’m involved in Child usa, like we started doing, judicial education of ju like educating the judges on emotional distress and harm and things of that nature. And like when I bring this up and give this presentation on the neurobiology of trauma and, and you just see their eyes like light up and they’re like, oh my gosh.

And why people are acting the way that they’re acting. And, and things of that nature. It just puts it in a different perspective for juries and for people that really don’t understand the inside part of what’s happening to somebody as opposed to just the outside manifestation of what the injury is.

But it’s, it’s what it is. I always say the outside is the symptomology. The inside is really the injury. And being able to, to show that to a jury from a physical standpoint is super important for them to, to understanding that and being able to appreciate the harm, the level of harm that the trauma caused.

I know this Cummings decision was, is, has been to say detrimental would be the understatement of the year. But I also think you know, I think you’re gonna see a progression from this emotional distress and really trying to show that this is a physical injury such that you know, it may not be limited by this decision.

And, and hopefully utilize what I’m talking about in terms of neurobiology of trauma to, to make that happen. With, with this Supreme Court, it may be a lost cause. But I think that’s just one way. I think we’re gonna start seeing people trying to get around that.

Kristina Supler: That is fascinating. Neurobiology of trauma is, is a phrase that we hear in different contexts and it’s, it’s interesting. It’s confusing in some respects. But let’s roll it back to just basics. We have many of our audience members are parents. And for parents who are listening, if they have a student on campus, at school, away from home who’s injured in for whatever reason, maybe in a dorm room is assaulted by another student, a sexual assault, perhaps. What, what are some basic steps that you would encourage a student to take to start to document their injuries or think about, you know, what to do next. 

Susan Stone: I mean, we’ve done a lot of work educating parents ourselves, and on our website it’s kj.

We have a lot of tear sheets for students when they’re going through a Title IX action. But we really don’t touch upon broader issues. Like so in a very broad way, maybe talk about what type of injuries that should be on the radar of parents is something that could lead to a civil suit. And what should be done 

Brian Kent: Are, and you, when you say parents of children, are you talking about college aged kids or younger kids or, I, 

Susan Stone: I would say in general, I don’t think it should be limited.

Kristina Supler: I agree. No, 

Brian Kent: no. I, I, I agree. I think, well, I let’s say first and foremost, like I am amazed, I’m sure you, you are too, with how many cases that we get where there is some sort of yellow flag, red flag leading up to, uh, some sort of abuse or assault that occurs. And I say that because I think when you’re talking about younger children and what’s it kind of look for? I, I’ve seen it manifested in a lot of different ways. But you know, you see significant behavioral changes in a child. I will say, like from a physical standpoint, I think the large majority of cases that we get there is no physical evidence of the assault. When I say physical, I mean on the body itself. 

There are sometimes, um, but I’d say the large majority of times there, there is not that physical aspect. But I, I always think it’s, and I know how difficult this is, obviously from personal experience and otherwise, to report when something happens. And whether that means reporting it to law enforcement, reporting it to a school, reporting it to the people that are in the know with regards to taking action, I think it’s super important that be the first step. 

I mean, You guys have kids, so I, I preach to my children all the time that, no matter what it is, like if you come to me and you tell me that something happened, like it’s a safe place. Like we’re not gonna be angry at you, we’re not gonna be upset. We’re just gonna try to help. And, um, go from there. 

And I’m super open with them about sexual abuse, about sexual assault and consent and pornography and things like that. Because I want them to feel safe with coming to me to talk about those really difficult issues. 

And I think that also needs, from a school standpoint, institutional standpoint, you know, we’re kind of hesitant to, to talk about those types of issues. But I think the more transparency there is at the end of the day and the more that students and children know that they are safe if they do come forward about something and that they’ll be taken care of and protected the better. But I always say like, the first thing that they should do is at least report it.

Now, we have gotten a unfortunately, and I’d love to hear what your perspective is on this from a law enforcement standpoint, we’ve had a ton of cases over the past couple years where we are really seeing a trend, uh, against, uh, of unless there is some corroborating evidence, they are not really pushing the envelope or arresting or whatever it may be.

And that’s disheartening for me because I mean, I’m former law enforcement as a, as a former prosecutor and I see cases now where it would be a no-brainer for me to at least put in front of a grand jury, uh, and let them decide as to whether they’re gonna be charges. But most of the time I always say, I say, look at something and I say, of course I would charge on this case.

And we’re seeing more recently like a, you know, sort of trend where that’s not happening for some. Have you guys seen that? What’s your, been ex been your experience? 

Susan Stone: Well, I wanna roll a couple things back before I address that. Sure. I think have to set a mindset up in your home that it’s okay for your kids to challenge authority respectfully, might I add, without fearing retaliation. 

My daughter is a junior and I just literally had a situation this week where she had applied to a summer program. And her, uh, teacher was supposed to get in a letter of recommendation. It didn’t get in early. My daughter got the email from the institution. We still don’t have your letter of recommendation.

And my daughter told me early on to intervene. And then we had a conversation later in the day and she said to me, you know, mom, a lot of students wouldn’t have gone to their parents to intervene because they’d be really scared. What if I make. Ms. X, Mr. Y. mad at me. And I’ve really ingrained in my students, students that I represent, and in my own home, don’t worry about retaliation. Let’s get an issue out early and to build that muscle on things that are not as serious, something that can be fixed. The letter of recommendation suddenly got gone. 

Or my older daughter, who’s now starting grad graduate school, I will never forget this. It was sixth grade. We got a report card and we noticed that the grades were an error. Again, came to me early. We asked the teacher in that grade to recalculate it, and lo and behold, my daughter did earn an A. 

But that sets the stage for later reporting on the big issues. No one just comes home and says, God forbid this person in a position authority did X to me. You’ve gotta create a culture of telling, not tattling. And then I’ll let Kristina add on about what she’s been seeing with reporting with law enforcement, her perspective. 

Kristina Supler: Well, I just wanna say to first address your point, Susan, and it, it seems to me that some of these smaller matters can help empower students of all ages to feel like they can speak up when something bad happens. Something that they don’t wanna happen.

And also perhaps, and ideally, be more aware of negative situations and immediately remove themselves. And not feel like, oh, this person is in, you know, this is my teacher, my principal, the priest, whomever has control over me. And I, I can’t say, no, that’s not okay, and remove myself from the situation.

With respect to the issue of law enforcement. You know, I think that Brian, the point you raised is an interesting one cuz I wonder how much of it really is just tied to geography and the different perspective. Because we’re not seeing that. Yeah. The different perspectives of the district attorneys and prosecutors and their offices. Because I would say in Ohio, I don’t think many defense attorneys, criminal defense attorneys would say sexual assault cases are down.

So I don’t know. That’s interesting. I, and I’d be curious to hear more from others. And also I think that just across the board with respect to college students, what we see is a greater awareness of self-advocacy in general. 

Susan Stone: And we know Title IX cases are up. If it’s anecdotal, we’re getting calls every day for help.

And what’s more interesting on the calls is we’re getting calls from more females wanting us to help shepherd them through, as a complainant, we’re getting more single sex couples. We’re getting more complete diversity in cases that we never saw initial. . 

Kristina Supler: I think that’s right. It’s, and actually that’s one of the things I love about what we do is that there’s always different issues that students come to us with that we help them fight for.

Susan Stone: So we’re not seeing what you see. But we love your perspective in your part of the woods. 

Brian Kent: Yeah, I and I j let me speak just on your, when you’re talking about the culture aspect of things, you both talked about it. I, I don’t know if you’re seeing this in, in the especially school cases, like we just filed a case in New Jersey.

Where it was so set up for just rampant boundary crossings between students and teachers. And it was it really is for me. It’s like I truly believe, and this is I truly believe that you can prevent sexual abuse, sexual assault in the institutional setting if you have the appropriate safeguard setup. And everybody is doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

Um, I do too. I agree to prevent that from a caring and, and, and I, where you see this happening is one of those two things are lacking or both are lacking. But it’s always a cultural sort of issue in, in terms of the institution itself. And what I have seen is it’s just set up.

If it does happen, it’s set up for failure. In, in this case that we just filed over New Jersey. It’s teachers, were texting students and there’s just a lot of boundary issues. And that are, were, 

Kristina Supler: it’s so funny you say that. Yeah, sorry to interrupt, but I, I recently No, no, go ahead.

Had a conversation with someone and, and basically at the heart of the story was a miscommunication that occurred between a teacher and a student. And it was over text. And I, it was a high schooler and I was shocked to, I’m like, A teacher should not be texting a student ever. And it particularly not in high school.

I mean, that’s just a recipe for disaster. And it’s interesting to hear you have that observation in, in the suit. You recently filed boundaries. We talk about boundaries a lot. Every day, every day, every day of our 

Susan Stone: life we talk to, to preach about boundaries. Let’s shift to fraternity, sororities and hazing.

Haha. Oh my gosh. We are still defending students of hazing allegations. Sometimes they have a lot of teeth to them. Other times I’m like, stop. Come on. You know? Yeah. I don’t think popping a bottle of champagne and spilling it all over the place after kids get their big brothers is hazing. I think it’s a celebration.

Some acts are hazing. What are you seeing on your front? 

Brian Kent: So we are, I mean, hazing goes so far beyond just the fraternity sorority level. Like we, we get a lot of these high school cases or even grade school, but high school sports cases, um, 

Susan Stone: we see those too. Yeah. And actually we think they’re worse than the college cases.

Brian Kent: A hundred percent. I think they are as ago. Like Mo, most of the high school cases that we’ve got with athletic teams has been like sexualized in nature. Yes, we’ve had some mean, yes. Yeah, and I mean, it’s straight up abuse. No doubt about it. Sexual abuse, I mean, no doubt about it. 

We’ve also had some cases like with military academies and things like that, where similar stuff goes on. But it, again, it always comes back to like, it’s the culture. Because it’s been allowed to happen over and over again for gener, for, for years and years.

But I think Like we talked about boundaries it is difficult to say what, what would be allowed and what, what should not be allowed. Because I, it is kind of a slippery slope. If once you allow certain types of, quote unquote hazing to occur, even if it’s somewhat innocent, people may feel more comfortable doing it.

More serious hazing if they know that they can get away with it. In the long run, I mean, we’ve seen everything, you know, the Penn State, like death cases and things like that. Like, we had a, my alma mater, we had a, a fraternity that where somebody had died as a result of alcohol hazing and things of that nature.

Susan Stone: Those are the, those are just the worst. 

Brian Kent: Mm-hmm. . I know they are. I mean, and because it’s so easy for it to happen. I mean, I was a, I was in a fraternity at the University of Delaware as well. It is so easy for something like that to just get out of control and happen. But I don’t, I have not, I mean, we have, I wanna say where we have seen the majority of our fraternity cases are more sexual assault cases than they have been hazing. 

We have seen a huge amount of the hazing cases in these high school athletic programs and things of that nature. And that’s not to say that they’re not happening at the fraternities, cuz they, they definitely still are. I just think that’s something that, and for whatever reason we’ve seen a little bit of a downtick in that regard.

But an uptick in the sexual assaults involving fraternities but an uptick when it comes to the hazing stuff at high schools. What are, what are you guys seeing? 

Kristina Supler: Well, something that we are seeing with greater frequency on, on the hazing front is, I mean, I think traditionally when people hear hazing, they think fraternities, and that’s by and large what we’ve talked about here. 

But we’ve handled a growing number of hazing matters involving female sports teams. And so I think that, you know, I’m curious what your experience has been in terms of hazing, sort of being construed as only male students do it because that doesn’t necessarily square with some of the cases that we’ve been contacted about and 

Susan Stone: Actually, we’re seeing a different twist going on in student organizations.

We’re not seeing a lot of traditional hazing. I, I actually agree with you. I think fraternities are, and sororities are getting very good at watching and monitoring alcohol abuse or use for underage students and really trying very hard to create a collegial atmosphere that does not demean. So hopefully, I mean, we still have those cases, but they’re getting less and less.

What we are seeing is something totally different. We’re seeing that the minute a student has a whiff of being accused of sexual assault before there’s any investigation of all, they’re canceled and kicked out. That organizations are so scared of getting involved, it’s like the person has leprosy. And we’re seeing these students get canceled and excluded and you talk about depression and emotional distress. Oh. We’ve represented students saying, I have no idea who I harmed. I have no idea what it’s about. I’ve just been kicked down 

Kristina Supler: calling me names and don’t know what’s driving it whatsoever and being removed from organization after organization.

That’s a good point, Susan. Cuz we are dealing with a lot of that right now. Brian, legally, if you were, for example, council advising one of these organizations, do you have any thoughts on why these organizations are, the students are, are taking those actions? Do you think the students are receiving advice from a national higher ups on, okay, this is too risky.

We don’t wanna be, have liability for anything, just put ’em on leave. 

Susan Stone: I think that’s a great question, Kristina. Thanks for posing it. Yep. 

Brian Kent: I think so. I mean, I, I would imagine that there’s somebody advising them that, you know, we, we can’t, you know, just based on the allegation alone we can’t have anything to do with this person and put them on leave. Do whatever you’re gonna do. 

Because the flip side is so, I’m a plaintiff’s lawyer. I have a client that comes in and says, I was sexually assaulted at this fraternity party by this guy. And I find out that she reported it. There’s an investigation and the fraternity didn’t take any action whatsoever against this person.

I’m coming in from a legal standpoint and saying you know, look, they may not have any they may not be vicariously liable, let’s say, for his actions. There is a legal theory out there called ratification that if you are put on notice of action that you know you didn’t approve of originally, but then you ratify it by not taking any corrective action, then you can be legally responsible for all of those acts that occur. 

And if I’m advising those institutions, I’m probably telling them that to say if you don’t take any sort of action, then we can be responsible for everything that that person did, even if we didn’t have notice of it.

Even if we didn’t have notice that this may, this guy may be a bad guy. Um, but I, I do think that institutions are petrified when anything is anything like that. Any, anything of a sexual nature comes up that they’re just trying to take some sort of action that if it does turn into something down the road that they can legitimately say, what else did you want us to do other than what we did in this case?

I am super, I’m super curious to hear what your guys’ perspective is on this. Are how many of those cases that are coming in where you have the individual that doesn’t really know, like what happened, are alcohol related?

Susan Stone: We have a couple and there’s no alcohol. 

Kristina Supler: I was gonna say, yeah. Really fewer than you might. Oh wow. Yeah. Yeah. I, I, fewer than you would think. We have a few right now. That are quite serious in terms of what our fallout that our client has endured. And we don’t know where the allegation came from. There’s, there’s nothing that anyone is aware of in terms of substance abuse, whether drugs or alcohol. And the student, as Susan, you know, used the phrase earlier, has essentially been canceled. And they’re not allowed to attend any activities. They’re not welcome at parties. It’s, it’s a tough space to be in. 

Susan Stone: Yeah, it’s a tough time. I wanna nerd out on the legal star question. A lot of lawyers will say, ah, I know it’s really sad.

You’ve been the vic victim of a crime. And there might have even been a charge or some incarceration. But if you’re in victim of an in a crime, wow, there’s gonna be no insurance coverage. You shouldn’t sue. Do you agree with that? 

Brian Kent: No, because first and foremost even cases where, so even cases involving an individual perpetrator, so, or an alleged individual perpetrator.

So let’s say, you know, student A is alleged to have sexually assault, sexually assaulted student B. And let’s just leave out any of the institutional aspect of things. That, if that is, and I don’t know what Ohio’s law is on this, if that is if there is alcohol involved in that, such that it may be an issue of mistaken consent or something along those lines.

You know, the pur student a says we were drinking, uh, she didn’t tell me no, or something along those. We are getting insurance in those cases because it negates the intentional aspect of it, at least from an insurance standpoint. And then you, you talk about the cases involving the institution.

So let’s say that that same scenario happened at a fraternity. And the fraternity had served alcohol to student B, which led to her being incapacitated. And then this sexual assault occurred or they, the fraternity of new student A was a bad guy or something along those lines. There’s gonna be insurance coverage there for, for that scenario as well. Unless there’s some very specific clause on the insurance contract that says, you know, we don’t handle, we will not provide any insurance coverage let’s say a sexual assault that occurs under your roof.

Again, like this is what we do for a living. I mean, we have nine of us here that solely handle sexual assault and abuse cases. And I don’t know, maybe for, say for a handful there’s almost always been insurance coverage available in those cases.

And even in cases involving co in cases involving college students who for purposes of insurance technically are dependents and insureds under their parents’ policies still. They will be covered by their homeowners. Now, if there may be, it’s something in the homeowners that says, We we’re not, covering like criminal acts or something like that.

But we have had college assault cases where we have sued the individual perpetrator and gotten coverage under the parents’ homeowners. 

Susan Stone: That’s great for the parents if, God forbid, your kids involved. Don’t just give up. If one person that you talked to says, ah, forget it. There’s always a way with some creative lawyering.

I like that message of hope. . 

Kristina Supler: And on that note, we’ve covered a lot of ground and territory in our discussion today. We’ve sort of weaved in and out of broader topics and and more technical legal discussion, I’d like to end by giving you the opportunity, Brian.

What message or advice or words of encouragement do you have for sexual abuse survivors and their parents. 

Brian Kent: So first and foremost, I think, thank you for you guys doing what you do. I think that for survivors it’s super important to make sure that if something does happen that you find attorneys that have experience in handling these cases, that will provide you a safe place to, to say what you need to say, and will be an integral part in, in your healing process. 

And I do believe that what we do in terms of helping people in the civil process is a crucial, important part of the healing process. I mean, you have the criminal case that deals with the criminal perpetrator. But a, as we know most times the abuse or assault happened because of some institutional safety failure. And really the way to, to prevent that from happening again is, is through these civil lawsuits and, and holding these, these other folks accountable as well and, and giving the voice to the victim who has their own attorney in the civil lawsuit to tell their story the way that they wanted to be told.

So I think that’s important for survivors that they make sure in when they’re looking for somebody to, to help them in a civil case, that they find attorneys that have experience and that do these cases for the right reasons and treat, will treat the person the way that they should be treated. I think from my perspective and I can only speak from sort of an attorney, male attorney, but also a, abuse survivor is, and this is something I preach to every group that I speak to, is it is super important for any of the men in your life to ensure that they feel it’s okay to be vulnerable and talk about what’s going on with them. 

I really truly believe that if you, if we had different if the majority of the male view out there was different than that toxic male, you gotta win, you gotta fight, you gotta do all this stuff, don’t talk about your feelings, yada, yada, yada. But was more, Hey, it’s okay to talk about what’s going on with you. It’s okay to talk about something bad that happened to you. And, and let’s talk it, put it on the table. It’s gonna be safe, well received, and things of that nature. Like you would see a dramatic decrease in in violence and crime in just a ton of different issues that we have with men.

I mean, I, I’ve worked with sexual predators. Men that have committed sexual, sexually violent acts. I’ve worked with survivors of sexual abuse. Uh, I’ve worked with sexual, you know, se guys that have sexual addiction, things of that nature. And like the one common theme is they all have this internal pain that they’re dealing with, and they’ve never been it felt like it was okay to talk about it. 

Um, instead they, they act out in some sort of way in whatever that manner is. And I just think that if we were to really preach to the men in our life that it’s okay to talk about what’s going on with you. Be your true, authentic self then you, you would see a, a much better world out there.

Um, and I’m not saying that that would not be the case for, for women as well. I can only speak to that from my perspective as sort of a male advocate and survivor. 

Susan Stone: And we needed that perspective on Real Talk. And we. I know, thank you for being on here. And I cannot wait for the next opportunity to pair up with you and your wonderful team because it just makes practicing law so much more enjoyable.

When you get to work with such brilliant attorneys that, uh, you don’t normally get to be with, other than you, Kristina, every day of have all day, every day, more than her own family. 

Kristina Supler: Thanks for joining us, Brian. This was a real treat. 

Brian Kent: Oh, thank you both for having me. I really appreciate it. It was great.