Anonymous Plaintiffs and Sexual Misconduct

51 Pages Posted: 23 Apr 2020

Date Written: April 22, 2020


Scholars continue to propose and write extensively about innovative laws to protect recipients of ever-evolving forms of sexual misconduct. The #MeToo movement makes this scholarship more imperative than ever. The majority of scholars focus their attention on (i) substantive laws to prevent and punish sexual misconduct; and (ii) the failure of traditional privacy laws to address modern assaults on sexual privacy. This Article adds a new perspective to—and fills a gap in—the conversation. It focuses on the inadequacy of the processes by which recipients of sexual misconduct have access to these laws. Given the pervasive reluctance of many sexual misconduct recipients to come forward, this is an essential missing link in the sexual misconduct literature. This Article examines reasons why recipients of sexual misconduct do not bring formal claims against their perpetrators, and it proposes procedural reforms to make civil justice for sexual misconduct more attainable. Specifically, I argue that under certain circumstances, sexual misconduct recipients should be permitted to bring anonymous formal civil actions against their perpetrators. While some jurisdictions currently permit such an anonymous process, the current state of the law is ad hoc, inconsistent, and unpredictable. Examining and evaluating the concerns regarding anonymous litigation, this Article proposes a reformed jurisprudence surrounding concealment of a sexual misconduct recipient’s identity in formal claims of sexual misconduct. Resolving sexual misconduct claims through an anonymous formal process will aid in testing claims’ legitimacy, compensating recipients, deterring wrongdoers, treating the accused fairly, and engendering lasting change.

Suggested Citation

Ressler, Jayne, Anonymous Plaintiffs and Sexual Misconduct (April 22, 2020). Seton Hall Law Review, Vol. 50, p. 955, 2020, Brooklyn Law School, Legal Studies Paper No. 634, Available at SSRN:

Jayne Ressler (Contact Author)

Brooklyn Law School ( email )

250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States

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