You've worked your entire life to get into college, but if you are accused of sexual misconduct or violating Title IX, that dream can be ripped away from you in an instant. What are your options? Who can you turn to? If you are accused of sexual misconduct, you must reach out to an attorney advisor as soon as you are notified. An attorney-advisor like Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm has years of experience helping students at the University of Delaware and across the country defend themselves against sexual misconduct accusations. The consequences can have devastating effects on your future, but you don't have to weather this storm alone. The Lento Law Firm can help.
What is Title IX?
Title IX is a federal regulation that creates a specific standard that all federally funded colleges and universities must uphold when managing sexual discrimination and sexual violence on their campus. These standards include:
- Clear and immediate procedures for sexual misconduct allegations
- Designated personnel to handle instances of sexual violence
- In Title IX hearings, the standard of evidence should be “more likely than not” or “preponderance of evidence”
- Both parties involved should have access to the same procedures – advisors, appeals, and presentation of the evidence
- Retaliation protection
The University of Delaware prohibits discrimination, sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking by anyone on campus property to not only keep faculty, staff, and students safe but to uphold their civil and constitutional rights.
What Happens After an Allegation of Sexual Misconduct?
The University of Delaware puts the responsibility of reporting sexual misconduct and Title IX violations on any person who notices such an incident. They must file a report with the Office of Equity and Inclusion, the Title IX Coordinator, or a deputy Title IX Coordinator. Once they receive a complaint, they will interview the complainant. If they determine that it the alleged conduct falls within the context of their sexual misconduct policy, they will determine which proceeding is appropriate.
Alternative Resolution Process
While the alternative resolution process is unavailable for students accusing employees of sexual misconduct, it is available under the sole discretion of the Title IX Coordinator. Any resolution reached through the Alternative Resolution Process will be confirmed in writing and given to the parties within five days of the decision. Additionally, if either the Title IX Coordinator, complainant, or respondent decides that the proceeding is no longer appropriate, the Title IX Coordinator may adjust the proceeding to one of the ones listed below.
Administrative Resolution Process for Non-Title IX Offenses
For any complaint that falls under sexual misconduct but would not be considered a Title IX offense, the Investigator is given 40 days to investigate the allegation, interview witnesses, and review relevant evidence. When these interviews and fact-gathering end, the Investigator will give both parties an opportunity to review and inspect all the materials gathered. The parties will have ten days to respond to the evidence in writing.
Once the parties have had a chance to respond, the Hearing Officer will notify the parties of the date and time of the hearing conference. During the hearing, both the respondent and the claimant will be given a chance to submit evidence and witnesses they would like to call. The Hearing Officer will hear either side and prepare a report that includes the findings and how they apply to the policy, as well as any remedies they will be applying to the respondent.
If you are found responsible of committing sexual misconduct, there are several sanctions that could be applied, including educational sanctions like writing a research or reflective paper and attending a seminar, or administrative sanctions like deferred suspension from university housing, suspension from the university, ban from the university, or full expulsion from the university.
It is important to understand that a suspension, often for a year or more, is generally the sanction imposed at an absolute minimum when a respondent is found responsible for sexual misconduct.
Title IX Resolution Process
For accusations that do fall within Title IX, the resolution process and sanctions are similar to that of the non-Title IX offenses described in the section above. One distinct difference is that in the Title IX Resolution process, the school must show, beyond a preponderance of the evidence, that the respondent committed an act of sexual misconduct that falls within the boundaries of the Title IX regulations.
Appealing a Sexual Misconduct or Title IX Violation Decision
Whatever sanction is applied, it is important to remember that you have the right to appeal the decision of the Hearing Officer. The appeal must allege that either:
- The factual findings the final decision was based on were clearly wrong, and that affected the outcome of the case.
- There is new evidence that was not available or known before that could significantly impact the outcome.
- The Title IX Coordinator, Investigator, Hearing Officer, or the person imposing the sanction had a conflict of interest or demonstrated a bias that affected the outcome of the case.
- There was a procedural error that significantly impacted the outcome of the investigation, hearing, or sanction.
- One or more of the sanctions are inappropriate.
Your appeal must be delivered online using the form provided within five days of the date the finding was made, or the sanction was sent. The Appellate Board will review the appeals and decide to grand the appeal and send a report to the Title IX Coordinator to either consider the new evidence or fix the error – which might include a new investigation or hearing, deny the appeal, or grant the appeal and change the sanction or ask the Sanctioning Official to reconsider it.
Whatever the decision of the Appellate Board, it is final and cannot be appealed further.
How an Attorney Advisor Can Help
If you've been falsely accused of sexual misconduct or another Title IX violation by University of Delaware and found not responsible, that is a great outcome, but not necessarily without consequence. The harm to your reputation may be hard to recover from because students and others may have formed biases long before you've met them. And for students found responsible, it could upset your current school schedule by removing you from labs or classes where you might run into the victim and, if you are suspended or expelled, taint your transcripts and jeopardize opportunities for years to come. Working with an experienced attorney advisor will ensure the best possible conclusion for your situation. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a nationally-recognized champion of those accused of Title IX, and he has helped many clients at the University of Delaware specifically. Attorney Lento and his team at the Lento Law Firm fight for a fair process and the best possible outcome by creating a strategic defense to avoid a finding of responsibility and to mitigate negative consequences associated with the process. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.