Mr. Kelly is Chair of Sanford Heisler Sharp’s Criminal/Sexual Violence Practice Group. He represents plaintiffs, especially those from traditionally marginalized groups, who seek justice as victims of violence.
David Sanford, Steven Kelly, Deborah Marcuse and the Sanford Heisler Sharp team are worthy advocates for anyone needing help in navigating the path to justice. Alexander Prout, Managing Director, Head of Asia Pacific at Deutsche Asset Management
Steve has a unique ability to fight zealously for his clients’ vision of justice. Steve draws from his personal life experiences, a distinguished legal education, and years of legal practice to offer his clients a rare combination of compassion and tenacity. I always have confidence that when I send someone Steve's way that they will find a legal advocate like none other. Bridgette Harwood, Co-Director of Network for Victim Recovery of D.C.
Steve’s passionate pursuit of justice will always inspire me most.” Chessy Prout, 15-year-old rape survivor in I Have the Right To
Kelly is among the top victim lawyers in the country. Whether he is working with an adult or child-victim, litigating in criminal or civil court, he tirelessly, compassionately and artfully fights for their voice to be heard and their rights protected. Steve is a kind, caring lawyer who fights for survivors. One cannot ask for more than that.” Meg Garvin, Executive Director, National Crime Victim Law Institute
We were struggling to navigate the criminal process, as well as dealing with our daughter’s 160-year-old institution and its history of turning its back on sexual assaults of children with whose care it was entrusted. A victim’s advocate introduced us to Steve and we were immediately struck with the difference in his approach to our daughter’s case and crimes perpetrated against her. Steve truly understands the victim’s perspective, and how to advocate for victim’s rights in both the criminal and civil process. Steve’s work on our daughter’s behalf has been integral to our family’s healing and has helped us achieve some measure of justice. Mother of a sexual assault survivor
After a sexual assault, the victim and her family have no road map to follow. When our daughter was raped, we had no idea what we would face. Steve Kelly was guide and advocate throughout the criminal process—making an impossible process manageable. Steve also helped us achieve civil justice by holding the institution that allowed the rape to occur accountable. Steve is a warrior for victims who works selflessly and tirelessly on behalf of his clients. Father of a sexual assault survivor
Steven J. Kelly is a Partner at Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP, a national firm with offices in Washington, DC, New York, California, Tennessee, and Maryland. He is located in the firm’s Washington and Baltimore offices. Mr. Kelly received his law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 2003.
Mr. Kelly is one of a handful of lawyers in the country capable of truly fighting for a victim’s rights in both criminal and civil cases. Recent advances in law provide victims of violence with a number of critical rights in criminal cases. By protecting victim safety, privacy and the victim’s right to meaningfully participate in the criminal process, we prevent our clients from being re-victimized from the criminal process and strengthen the victim’s ability to bring civil claims against perpetrators and responsible third parties.
Steve currently represents seven female scientists in their landmark Title IX class action lawsuit against Dartmouth College in New Hampshire federal court. Brought on behalf of current and former female graduate students and undergraduates in Dartmouth’s Department of Psychology and Brain Sciences (“PBS”), the lawsuit alleges that Dartmouth willfully ignored more than a decade of widespread sexual harassment and gender discrimination by tenured professors in the department.
Mr. Kelly has been fighting for crime victims since 1988 when his older sister was raped and murdered. While in high school, he developed a curriculum on preventing violence and treating the victim with dignity and respect that is still taught in Maryland schools. As a teenager, Mr. Kelly fought for an amendment to Maryland’s constitution for crime victim rights. After college, Kelly led a non-profit devoted to matching crime victims with a lawyer. While at Georgetown University Law Center, Mr. Kelly helped fight for what became the Crime Victim Rights Act of 2004. He has been recognized for his advocacy by the National Crime Victim Law Institute, the Governors of Florida and Maryland, the American Bar Association, the Maryland Crime Victim Resource Center and American University, and others.
Mr. Kelly represents victims of criminal and sexual violence in criminal and civil proceedings on cases involving: sexual violence in schools, colleges, universities and graduate schools; child sexual abuse; criminal and sexual assaults at hotels, banks, ATMs, retail stores, apartment buildings; drunk and impaired driving, voyeurism and other civil cases arising from criminal acts.
Prior to joining Sanford Heisler Sharp, Mr. Kelly was a partner at the regional law firm of Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White, where he founded a crime victim practice group. Prior to that, Mr. Kelly litigated anti-trust and complex commercial ligation cases for Miles & Stockbridge and DLA Piper.
- J.D., Georgetown University Law Center, 2003, cum laude
- Journal of Law and Public Policy
- B.A., American University, 1997, magna cum laude and with university honors
- District of Columbia
- United States Supreme Court
- United States District Court, District of Maryland
- United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
- United States District Court for the District of Columbia
- United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit
Mr. Kelly has litigated numerous landmark cases for crime victims, including Paroline vs. U.S., U.S. Supreme Court; Prout, et al. v. St. Paul’s School, D. N.H., Doe v. Cabrera, D.D.C., Smolinski v. Gleason, Conn. S.C.; Doe v. Bardell, D. Md.; Jane Doe, et al. v. Kesher Israel, et al., D.C. Superior Court; Doe v. Penn Parking, et al., D.C. Superior Court; Doe v. Cardin School, Baltimore City Circuit Court; Ceaser v. Morgan State University, Baltimore City Circuit Court.
- JOINT PRESS RELEASE: Dartmouth College and Nine Current and Former Dartmouth Students Announce Settlement of Title IX Class Action
- Pope Francis Condemns Clergy Abuse Crisis, Fails to Offer Concrete Action
- #MeToo blitz for Dartmouth: Publicity blitz may not help their case, but it could help their cause
- Dartmouth Ignored ‘Predator’ Profs, $70M Suit Claims
- Dartmouth Professors Sexually Assaulted Students, Turned Research Department Into ‘21st-Century Animal House’: Lawsuit
- Dartmouth Sued by Seven Female Science Students Over ‘Animal House’ Culture
- Students alleging harassment and abuse by professors bring suit against Dartmouth College
- Sanford Heisler Sharp Files $70 Million Sexual Assault and Gender Discrimination Class Action Against Dartmouth College
- Can restorative justice bring healing in sexual misconduct cases?
- 13 US States Now Investigating Catholic Clergy Sex-Abuse Claims
- National Policy Team, Marcy’s Law for All (2017-Present)
- Chair, Maryland State Board of Victim Services (2016-Present)
- Advisory Board, National Crime Victim Law Institute (2015-Present)
- Adjunct Professor, University of Baltimore Graduate School (2012-Present)
- Board of Governors, Federal Bar Association Maryland Chapter (2013-present)
- Roper Victim Assistance Academy Award for Outstanding Contribution to Victim Services (2013)
- Permanent Member, Judicial Conference of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit (2009-present)
- Commissioner, Maryland Criminal Injuries Compensation Board (2009-2016)
- Law Clerk, Honorable Richard D. Bennett (2004-2005)
- Maryland Super Lawyers® - Selected for inclusion in the area of General Litigation, Civil Rights/First Amendment (2010-Present)
- National Crime Victim Law Institute’s Legal Advocacy Award (2012)
- MADD Maryland Operations Council (2012-present)
- Miles & Stockbridge Pro Bono Award (2009)
- Champion for Crime Victims Award presented by Maryland Crime Victims' Resource Center (2008)
- Maryland Governor’s Award for Service to Crime Victims (2000)
- The Maryland Crime Victims’ Resource Center: Board of Directors (2000-present)
- American University’s Award for Service to the University Community (1997)
- Florida Governor’s Award for Drug & Crime Free Schools 1998
- December 6, 2018, Panelist/Speaker
The American Association For Justice – Class Action Seminar, Emerging Cases: Litigation Updates and Trends to Watch, “Defeating Goliath—Sex Abuse Class Action Cases”
The Media is Getting it Wrong: Jeffrey Epstein’s Victims and their Victims’ Rights Attorneys Deserve the Credit for Finally Bringing Him to Justice
The media has widely credited the Miami Herald’s “Perversion of Justice” series with “exposing” the unprecedented non-prosecution agreement (“NPA”) in which former U.S. Attorney (and current Trump Labor Secretary) Alexander Acosta agreed to allow billionaire Jeffrey Epstein to avoid federal prosecution for running an international child sex trafficking operation. But the true credit for exposing […]
Not long after she was sworn in, Secretary DeVos met with campus sexual survivors and advocates and promised any action she took on Title IX would respect their viewpoint. That was a lie. Secretary DeVos’ proposed regulations overwhelmingly reflect the view of institutions seeking to limit liability at survivors’ expense, in four key ways. First, […]
Dr. Christine Blasey Ford bravely came forward with allegations that Brett Kavanaugh, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, tried to rape her in 1982 in Montgomery County Maryland, when Kavanaugh was a 17-year-old student at Georgetown Prep in Bethesda, Maryland. While some have speculated that Kavanaugh could face charges for the 1982 incident, no one has […]
Yesterday, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Statewide Investigating Grand Jury released a comprehensive report detailing the Catholic Church’s systematic and widespread cover-up of more than 300 Catholic clergy’s sexual abuse of thousands of children. The report exposes a shameful cover-up by the late Baltimore Cardinal William H. Keeler, which The Baltimore Sun detailed in an article […]
Are There Any Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations for Civil Claims of Sexual Abuse Victims in Maryland?
One of the biggest barriers to abuse victims’ pursuit of justice in Maryland is the strict time limits that victims have to file their claims (this is commonly called the “statute of limitations”). While research consistently demonstrates that most survivors of sexual abuse fail to report or disclose the abuse until they are at least […]
The #MeToo Movement has helped draw attention to abuse victims’ right to pursue civil claims against the perpetrators who abused them and the institutions (e.g., churches, child care centers, schools, universities, colleges, teams, and programs) who failed to protect them from being abused. The voices of survivors are growing. Still, abuse victims have not yet […]