Students for sexual assault prevention rally to have Stanford-sponsored attorney reinstated

An online petition has gathered hundreds of signatures to have a former Stanford-sponsored attorney reinstated to her position after she was let go last month.

The Stanford Association of Students for Sexual Assault Prevention, known as ASAP, launched the campaign on behalf of attorney Crystal Riggins, according to ASAP co-founder Matthew Baiza. Riggins was one of six referral attorneys paid by Stanford to provide legal advice to students.

“A lot of students here, especially those who have worked with Ms. Riggings, want her back,” Baiza said.

Baiza said he believes Riggins was terminated for criticizing the university’s investigation process of sexual assaults in a New York Times article last December. In the article, Riggins said the procedure, called the Title IX process, takes too long for victims and it can be difficult to get a unanimous vote.

The Title IX process requires the university to investigate allegations of sexual assault as student disciplinary matters. In February 2016, Stanford implemented a pilot process for adjudication of sexual assault allegations in which three panelists must unanimously agree for the accused to be found responsible.

Sexual assault survivor and ASAP officer Jacqueline Lin said she was disappointed to hear Riggins was let go.

“The first email that was sent to Crystal to terminate her listed her criticism and the lack of confidence in the process,” Lin said. “I’ve been through the process. I know how Stanford responds to any criticism. This was not surprising.”

A Stanford spokeswoman said Riggins was not terminated out of retaliation, but rather due to a host of concerns about her work and that in fact, accusers have found success in the investigation process.

In a Q&A statement released by Stanford, senior associate vice provost Lauren Schoenthaler, said the decision not to renew Riggins’ was taken after consultation with personnel outside of her organization. She said the decision was unrelated to Riggins’ comments in the New York Times.

Schoenthaler said Riggins was not invited to continue her work as a referral attorney because of her “fatalistic attitude that she could not get good results for her clients in the process, which is not fair to our students.”

Riggins declined to comment on the termination, but she said she was extremely flattered by the student petition to have her reinstated. She said she is overwhelmed by the support she has received.

Part of a statement released by Riggins said, “I remain committed to Stanford students and the issues that they face.  I have and will continue to zealously advocate for my clients.”

Riggins currently represents two Stanford students going through the investigation process, but will not be assigned any new cases.

Baiza remains committed to gathering signatures online. He said Riggins was the only Stanford-sponsored attorney who exclusively represented sexual assault survivors.

“The concern is now that there is this void on the short list, and there’s only five other attorneys the university sponsors,” Baiza said. “Essentially if a survivor wants to work with an attorney who only represents survivors, they have to go outside of the university’s sponsored list to find that attorney.”

The full response from Stanford can be found here.