Leslie M. Gomez
Leslie M. Gomez is a partner in the White Collar Litigation and Investigations Practice Group of Pepper Hamilton LLP, resident in the Philadelphia office. Ms. Gomez is co-chair of the firm’s Child Advocacy Practice Group.
Ms. Gomez focuses her practice on the institutional response to sexual misconduct. She provides consulting, counseling and legal advice on all issues related to sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking and sexual and gender-based harassment. Ms. Gomez helps institutions develop comprehensive sexual misconduct policies, procedures, systems and training programs in compliance with Title IX, the Department of Education’s April 4, 2011 Dear Colleague Letter, the Clery Act, the Campus SaVE Act and state and local laws.
Ms. Gomez has nearly two decades of experience investigating sex crimes, child abuse, domestic violence and stalking, first as a career child abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault prosecutor, and later as counsel to colleges, universities, K-12 schools and other institutions. Ms. Gomez directs internal investigations, coordinates communications and interactions with law enforcement, assists in the design and implementation of disciplinary proceedings, and provides advice about the interplay between civil and criminal proceedings. She has led numerous highly complex investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct at educational and religious institutions. Ms. Gomez is a nationally recognized expert in child abuse and child protection, including the dynamics of child abuse, child protective services laws and the coordination of investigations with child protective services and local, state and federal law enforcement.
Prior to joining Pepper, Ms. Gomez was of counsel with Ballard Spahr in Philadelphia. Before that, she served as an assistant district attorney at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office for 14 years. She handled complex child abuse, kidnapping, domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault cases for more than 11 years. She regularly prosecuted cases involving very young and especially vulnerable children, children with special needs or disabilities, and children who were long-term victims of incest or child abuse. Ms. Gomez also focused on serial pedophiles and repeat sexual offenders. Ms. Gomez served as the chief of the Juvenile Court Unit at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office. There she was involved in every aspect of investigation and charging decisions in cases of alleged sexual and domestic violence against minor victims for both juvenile and adult offenders. For more than five years, Ms. Gomez oversaw charging decisions and served as a liaison with the Philadelphia Police Department Special Victims Unit, the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance and local hospitals with respect to the investigation and prosecution of all new allegations of child abuses in Philadelphia County.
As the senior prosecutor for child abuse and sex crimes litigation in the Juvenile Division, Ms. Gomez directly supervised and mentored more than 100 young prosecutors. She instructed them on pre-trial investigation, case preparation, trial strategy, ethical issues, and the unique dynamics of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, child abuse and stalking. She authored numerous training materials and template briefs that serve as the core of the District Attorney’s training program and continue to be utilized by the District Attorney’s Office. She has a firm grasp of policy and law with respect to competency, taint, prior bad acts, other crimes evidence, tender years hearsay exceptions, rape shield, physical and medical findings of abuse, forensic issues, alcohol-facilitated sexual assault, non-stranger sexual assault, intimate partner violence and stalking.
Ms. Gomez has presented at annual CLE conferences through the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and in the community on topics such as Pre-Trial Preparation; Litigating Pre-Trial Motions; The Child Witness; Crime Through the Eyes of a Child; Tender Years; Other Crimes Evidence; Special Needs Witnesses; Handling the Sexual Assault Case; An Investigator’s Approach to Children; Testifying in Court: Demystifying the Experience; Building the Credibility Case; Child and Adolescent Witnesses: Special Considerations in the Law; Focusing on Direct Examination; Collateral Consequences of Juvenile Adjudication; The Law on Sexual Offenses; Understanding the Law on Child Abuse; and The Philadelphia Experience with Flash Mobs.
Ms. Gomez’s speaking engagements include:
- “Title IX Investigations: Advanced Issues, Challenges and Opportunities,” NACUA February Workshop: Students Sexual Misconduct, Addressing Institutional Culture and Compliance (March 1, 2014)
- “Taking a Hard Look: The Emerging Role and Potential of Internal Investigations in the Higher Education Context,” 35th Annual National Conference on Law and Higher Education (February 15, 2014)
- “Title IX & Law Enforcement,” VAWA & Prevention Education and Clery Self-Assessment Toolkit Workshop (January 30, 2014)
- “The Integrated and Coordinated Approach to Title IX Compliance,” Pepper-Freeh Group Higher Education Webinar Series (November 21, 2013)
- “The Institutional Response to Sexual Misconduct in Our Schools: Policies, Investigation, Reporting and Communications,” Head Mistresses Association of the East Annual Conference, Princeton, NJ (November 11-12, 2013)
- “Moving Beyond Compliance: A Coordinated and Integrated Response to Sexual Misconduct,” 2013 NASPA Student Affairs Law and Policy Conference, Newport, RI (October 21-22, 2013)
- “Moving Beyond Compliance: A Coordinated and Integrated Response to Sexual Misconduct,” Clery Center Proceeding in Partnership Conference, San Antonio, TX (October 16, 2013)
- “Title IX: Beyond the Basics,” Boston Bar Association College and University Law Section, Boston, MA (October 9, 2013)
- “Sexual Assault Policies Under Scrutiny,” Inside Higher Ed Webinar (August 15, 2013)
- "The Campus Law Enforcement Response to Sexual Misconduct in the Wake of Evolving Federal Authority," Eighth Annual College and University Police Investigators Conference, Fairfax, VA (August 8, 2013)
- “The Title IX Investigation: Interviewing the Complainant,” Webinar, Pepper Hamilton LLP, Philadelphia, PA (June 26, 2013)
- “Responding to Sexual Misconduct Cases in the Institutional Setting Reporting Obligations, Title IX, Clery and Other Considerations,” Pennsylvania Bar Institute 11th Annual Nonprofit Institute, Philadelphia, PA (May 22, 2013)
- “Sexual Assault on College Campuses: A Range of Perspectives and Information,” Gender and Women’s Studies, Villanova University, Philadelphia, PA (April 11, 2013)
- “Responding to Sexual Misconduct Cases in the Institutional Setting,” Child Welfare Law 2013, Pennsylvania Children and Youth Solicitors Association, State College, PA (March 21, 2013)
- “Changing Culture Through Commitment, Coordination and Competence,” Bold Without Boundaries 2013: NASPA Annual Conference, Orlando, FL (March 2013)
- “Investigating and Evaluating the Sexual Assault Case: Practical Realities of the Credibility Case,” 2013 Campus Safety and Violence Prevention Forum and 7th Annual North Carolina Higher Education Safety Symposium, Roanoke, VA (March 2013)
- “One Conversation: Changing the Culture Through Commitment, Coordination and Competence,” 2013 Campus Safety and Violence Prevention Forum and 7th Annual North Carolina Higher Education Safety Symposium, Roanoke, VA (March 2013)
- “Responding to Sexual Misconduct Cases in Health Facilities: Reporting Obligations, Title IX, Medical Staff Bylaws and Other Considerations,” 19th Annual Health Law Institute, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Philadelphia, PA (March 13, 2013)
- “Title IX Compliance Workshop: Preferred Practices in Light of the Recent Yale and Xavier Letters,” Stetson University College of Law 34th Annual National Conference on Law and Higher Education, Orlando, FL (February 2013)
- Panel Discussion on Child Abuse, Temple University School of Medicine, Pediatrics Interest Group, Philadelphia, PA (December 6, 2012)
- “One Conversation: Changing the Culture through Commitment, Coordination, and Competence,” Plenary Session, Proceeding in Partnership: 25th Anniversary Event, The Clery Center for Security On Campus (October 5, 2012)
- “Dealing with Sexual Assaults: Reporting Requirements and Investigation,” School District of Philadelphia Safety Summit, Philadelphia, PA (August 15, 2012)
- “Handling the Sex Offense Case,” course planner, moderator and panelist, Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Philadelphia, PA (August 10, 2012)
- “The Campus Law Enforcement Response to Title IX: Responding to Sexual Misconduct Allegations in the University Setting,” College and University Police and Investigators Conference, Fairfax, VA (August 2, 2012)
- “Investigating and Evaluating the Sexual Assault Case: Practical Realities of the Credibility Case,” College and University Police and Investigators Conference, Fairfax, VA (August 2, 2012)
- “Ask the Experts,” panelist, College and University Police and Investigators Conference, Fairfax, VA (August 1, 2012)
- “Protecting Children from Child Abuse,” keynote speaker, Team Leadership Conference, ESF, Rosemont, PA (May 5, 2012)
- Testimony on the Intersection of Child Protective Services Law with the Criminal Justice System, Task Force on Child Protection, Harrisburg, PA (May 3, 2012)
- “Responding to Sexual Misconduct Allegations in the University Setting: Coordination with Law Enforcement,” Massachusetts Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (April 26, 2012)
- “Sexual Assaults on College Campuses,” Interview, WHYY – Radio Times with Marty Moss-Coane (April 18, 2012)
- “Responding to Sexual Misconduct Allegations in the University Setting: Policy Development and Implementation of Procedures,” Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA (April 12, 2012)
- “Prosecuting Sexual Assaults in Juvenile Court: Practical Realities and legal Issues” 2012 Juvenile Justice Conference, Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Institute, Gettysburg, PA (April 11, 2012)
- “Sexual Assault and Title IX: A Practical Guide to Implementing Policies & Procedures,” Five Colleges Incorporated, South Hadley, MA (April 4, 2012)
- “Responding to Sexual Misconduct Allegations in the University Setting: Policy Development and Implementation of Procedures,” Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, Virginia Campus Safety Forum: Addressing Sexual Assault on Campus (March 20, 2012)
- “Understanding the Complex Reporting Requirements,” Pennsylvania Bar Institute, Protecting Our Children: The Responsibility of Organizations, Philadelphia, PA (February 27, 2012)
- “Title IX Training: Handling Complaints of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence; Responding to Sexual Misconduct Allegations in the University Setting; University Judicial Board Training,” Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, MI (November 9-10, 2011)
- “Title IX Training: Handling Complaints of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence; Responding to Sexual Misconduct Allegations in the University Setting; Sexual Misconduct Judicial Board and Advisor Training,” Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC (November 7-8, 2011).
Ms. Gomez’s publications include:
- “Title IX: Responding to Sexual Harassment and Violence Incidents” (co-author), University Business (March 2014)
- “The Paradigm Shift in Campus Responses to Sexual Misconduct: From Compliance to Compassion” (co-author), Today’s Campus (August 2013)
- “The Labyrinth of Title IX: Clarifying the Dear Colleague Letter” (co-author), NASPA Leadership Exchange (Fall 2012).
Ms. Gomez serves as a volunteer child advocate attorney for the Support Center for Child Advocates. She has conducted community outreach and multidisciplinary training for the Department of Human Services, Women Against Abuse, the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance, St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, the Philadelphia City Solicitor’s Office, the Support Center for Child Advocates, the Philadelphia Police Department’s Special Victims Unit, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and local colleges and universities. She also was instrumental in obtaining grant monies to allow tender-age victims to testify outside the presence of the defendant via videoconferencing equipment, and in developing the protocol for the use of this technology in the Philadelphia courts.
Ms. Gomez has served as a mentor for second-year law students through the Temple Summer Professional Experience Curriculum and as a faculty member (provisional) for ChildFirst Pennsylvania, a statewide forensic interview training initiative through the National Child Protection Training Center. She was an instructor for the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges (2011), Pennsylvania District Attorney’s Institute Juvenile Justice Conference (2011), Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office (2001-11), Pennsylvania Bar Institute (2009) and National Black Prosecutor’s Association (2005).
Ms. Gomez received the Distinguished Advocate Award from the Support Center for Child Advocates in 2010. She was the Apple Fest Honoree of St. Christopher’s Foundation for Children in 2009 and recipient of the Team Excellence Award from the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance in 2008. Ms. Gomez is a member of the boards of the Center City Crime Victims Services and the Joseph J. Peters Institute, a nonprofit providing outpatient assessment and treatment in the area of sexual abuse. She is a Fellow of the Connecticut Bar Foundation.
Ms. Gomez is a graduate of Yale Law School (J.D. 1995) and Brown University (A.B., magna cum laude, 1992), where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and was the recipient of the Bernard Pollock Prize. From 1995-97, she was a law clerk to the Honorable Carolyn Engel Temin of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, First Judicial District. Ms. Gomez is admitted to the Pennsylvania bar. She is proficient in Spanish.
A.B. 1992, magna cum laude, Brown University
J.D. 1995 Yale Law School
1995-1997 Law Clerk to Hon. Carolyn Engel Temin, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas (Philadelphia, PA)
Admitted to practice in Pennsylvania