Legal Momentum News Brief—November 20, 2017

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November 20, 2017


Five-Campus Tour Teaches Students Their Rights 

Legal Momentum’s current campus tour schedule includes Fordham University and Sarah Lawrence College on October 24, CUNY Queensborough on November 8 and December 4, Fordham University School of Law on November 16, and Brooklyn Law School on November 27.

Legal Momentum’s presentations address the duty of schools to prevent and respond to sexual assault and to provide accommodations to survivors in light of the new interim guidance issued by the Department of Education in September. This guidance replaced the 2011 guidance issued under the Obama administration. Changes in the new guidance include suspending the 60-day time limit for investigations, allowing schools to use mediation in cases of sexual assault, and changing the standard of evidence. However, as Caitlin McCartney-Gerber told the audience at Fordham, “Despite any new guidance issued, despite anything you might’ve heard, the law itself has not changed.”

You can read more about Legal Momentum’s campus outreach in a feature article in The Fordham Ram, “Attorneys Speak on Title IX.” If you’d like Legal Momentum to present on your campus, email


New Staff Members Boost Helpline and Rights Now! Programs 

Mireille Martineau oversees the intake and referral functions of the Legal Momentum Helpline. She works with our Legal Department to screen potential legal clients, coordinate pro bono legal assistance, and provide quality service referrals. She has extensive experience in advancing social justice initiatives and increasing access to equitable services for low- and moderate-income communities in New York City, including Muslim women affected by HIV/AIDS and homeowners affected by Hurricane Sandy. The Helpline is funded in part by a generous gift from the Sy Syms Foundation.

Ane Mathieson is developing curricula and materials on educational equity, students’ legal rights, and the impact that domestic violence, sexual assault, and dating violence have on young women’s educational experience for our Rights Now! program. She is collaborating with Rights Now! peer educators on curricula that aim to empower young women of color to be their own advocates and to assert their rights to equity, and leading Legal Momentum’s recruitment and training of the peer educators. Ane previously worked at the Organization of Prostitution Survivors and was a 2012 Fulbright Fellow. Legal Momentum’s Rights Now! program is funded by a generous grant from the New York City Council as part of the Council’s Young Women’s Initiative.


California Passes New Anti-Sextortion Law 

For those unfamiliar with the term, “sextortion” is extortion (blackmail) where the perpetrator demands sex or sexual images rather than money. With the growth of the internet and proliferation of social media, sextortion is an increasing threat online, and offenders often target young girls. Working with Orrick and the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Legal Momentum has been speaking out to alert the public and lawmakers to the dangers of sextortion and to close existing loopholes in state and national laws where the law has not kept pace with new technologies, so that perpetrators can be held accountable. To date, laws criminalizing sextortion have been enacted in Utah, Arkansas, Texas and California, and have been introduced in the District of Columbia. Legal Momentum is also working with members of Congress on the Internet Safety Modernization Act to bring federal law up to date and strengthen the tools available to law enforcement and prosecutors.


LM Leads Panel on Women’s Rights at Trust Conference in London 

Trust Conference panel

Trust Conference (formerly Trust Women) is an annual event produced by the Thomson Reuters Foundation that convenes global corporations, lawyers, government representatives, and pioneers of the fight for human rights to find real solutions to fight slavery, empower women, and advance human rights worldwide. The panel on “Re-assessing Women’s Rights” highlighted how the women’s rights fight around the globe has many common threads and faces similar opposition and backlash. Legal Momentum’s Jennifer Becker noted the importance of assessing women’s rights at this moment in time and challenged the audience to think beyond when #MeToo stops trending. The day’s theme was “Empowering Women,” and the panel emphasized the need to work together from every corner of the world as well as to connect with other social justice movements to advance our work. The 2017 Trust Conference drew hundreds of attendees and garnered huge reach on social media. The #TrustConf17 hashtag was used almost 9,000 times, with more than a thousand people tweeting from countries including the U.K., the U.S.A., India, South Africa, Canada, Indonesia, and Singapore. The conference livestream had 9,395 viewers on Facebook. You can view a recorded video of the plenary session on YouTube