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Advocates fear that if defamation lawsuits continue to grow in use, victims will be scared back into the shadows, leaving more assailants to evade justice.Yet defenders of the accused argue the lawsuits are the only option to clear someone's name after a false allegation, especially on campuses where they believe administrators presume guilt from the moment a sexual assault is reported."I never in a million years thought that I would be doing this kind of work, but it's important to me to do it because my clients' lives are being destroyed by false allegations," said Rosenberg, who nine years ago founded a nonprofit to help sex-trafficked women."Which is one thing when you're 27, [and] I imagine is a completely different thing when you're 19."So far, it has cost Jane and her family nearly ,000 to defend herself.Some months, her legal bills have reached as high as ,000 — more than twice her monthly income, she said.Sometimes the mere threat of a defamation suit is enough to deter a student from going ahead with a sexual assault claim."I'm hearing lawyers talk more about it as a strategy, even if they don’t use it," said Brett Sokolow, a lawyer who runs the Association of Title IX Administrators.Young women sometimes ask to withdraw their sexual assault complaints, even when there is evidence to support them, Sokolow said, and schools sometimes learn that the accused is threatening a defamation suit as leverage."I'm aware of 10 to 12 of those in the last two years, and I am sure there are many more I do not know about," Sokolow told Buzz Feed News.Since he’d already completed classes, the university put his law degree on hold for two years.Jane thought this ugly chapter of her life was over, until that day in December 2016 when the stranger approached.

Musical artist Gaslamp Killer, real name William Bensussen, sued a woman who said on Twitter that he drugged and raped her, and Crystal Castles singer Ethan Kath sued former bandmember Alice Glass for saying in a statement online that he raped her.Now, he said, it happens in around a quarter of cases he's involved in. Rosenberg, an Ohio-based attorney who frequently represents college students accused of sexual misconduct, said he'd filed 20 defamation lawsuits in the past couple of years against accusers and settled nine of them.It used to be he only filed about one such lawsuit a year.The Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence did not receive requests for legal help on defamation suits until early 2017, when suddenly it started getting calls from defendants."I can't give you a general rate but can tell you that in one two-week period after the 2016-17 academic year concluded, we got three calls from survivors needing attorneys," said Camille Crary, a staff attorney at the Ohio Alliance.

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