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Another Win for BakerHostetler Pro Bono Defense of Sexual Assault Victim Sued for Defamation

News / April 7, 2021

For the second time in two months, a pro bono BakerHostetler team has obtained a victory for a #MeToo sexual assault victim in a defamation case. On March 31, 2021, Judge Pamela K. Chen of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York entirely dismissed the lawsuit against the firm’s client, identified as Jane Doe, and co-defendant St. John’s University in Richard Roe v. St. John’s University and Jane Doe.

Roe sexually assaulted Doe during a study abroad program sponsored by St. John’s University. The university suspended Roe following Doe’s complaint of sexual assault, and later expelled him following a complaint from a second victim reporting an almost identical sexual assault. Roe then sued St. John’s under Title IX and other New York State laws for expelling him. He also sued Doe for defamation, claiming that she was responsible for anonymous statements made on social media by a poster identifying as a sexual assault victim of Roe’s.

Melissa Carvalho led the defense team, joined by Counsel Mark Bailen and Associates Chardaie Charlemagne and Victoria Stork. Bailen and Carvalho serve as the BakerHostetler’s coordinators for pro bono work with the National Women’s Law Center in connection with its TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund and defamation-related #MeToo cases.

In February 2021, a BakerHostetler pro bono team secured a success in another #MeToo defamation matter, winning summary judgement in favor of the firm’s client in one of the first cases to apply New York’s recently expanded anti-SLAPP statute that upholds essential First Amendment rights, particularly for people who speak up about abuse and harassment.