Yesterday was one of the happiest days ever. In 2015, when my firm was only a year old, I was contacted by the Brooklyn Bar Association. They said a girl needed to get back into school. I started to suggest they refer her to an education lawyer, but then they said "it 1/
involves a video." A day or two later a lanky 13 year old came to my office. She was so distraught, couldn't make eye contact, didn't speak. With somebody translating her mom's Hatian Creole, I learned this girl, "Vanessa" had been sexually assaulted 2/
and videoed by the boy and then he'd shared it with all the 8th graders at their school via Facebook DM. When administrators found out, they told her to just stay at home b/c her presence was a distraction to other students and keeping the video in circulation. 3/
She'd tried reporting it to the police and they told her if she pressed charges against him, he was going to press charges against her. (Huh?!)
I'd never had a case like this, and just triaged for the first 4/
few weeks -- getting her into a new school, a pediatric trauma-informed gynecologist, texting her to remind her to eat and sleep, teaching her mom that it wasn't V's fault for not fighting the boy off. It was the most major responsibility I'd had. 5/
She was so depressed and couldn't bring herself to eat and her hair was falling out and she felt sick all the time. But with the help of her therapist and a neighbor, she started to turn the corner. We ultimately filed an OCR complaint (Obama was pres at the time) 6/
urging NY to handle these cases better. We discovered there was only one coordinator for 1.1m students. The relief we sought was more Title IX coordinators and transparancy about push-out of victims, especially girls of color. 7/
We later sued the city and testified at City Hall for Title IX coordinators. (They added 9 this summer!)

Fast forward to now, I had a 14 year old in my office whose nudes went viral around the 8th grade. And Vanessa, now an 18 yo college freshman came to the office to tell 8/
14 yo that yes, this sucks so much, but that there are people pushing for her and there for her. It was so touching to see Vanessa passing it forward. I'm so grateful for Vanessa and all of this. 💞 9/9
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