Sexual misconduct is a serious issue - and a prevalent one. According to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, up to 23.1% of undergraduate students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.
It's a nightmarish scenario, but one that parents need to prepare for. If your student is facing sexual misconduct allegations, you need to know how to protect their rights so their past doesn't impact their future.
After all, you've worked hard to invest in their education at Harvard. You need to make sure that you do everything possible to ensure your child can still enjoy their bright future.
Harvard University and Recent Title IX Updates
In August of 2020, the President of Harvard University wrote a letter to the entire academic community, stating that Harvard would “go beyond the minimum requirements stipulated by the new regulations” to protect its students.
As a result, Harvard University has two sexual misconduct policies and procedures: the updated Title IX sexual misconduct policy, and an ‘Interim Other Sexual Misconduct Policy'. Their processes for adjudicating all sexual misconduct allegations have largely remained the same because of this dual-policy system.
Harvard University: Your School's Sexual Misconduct Policy
Harvard works hard to ensure that all students enjoy a safe, healthy work and educational environment. To help make that happen, Harvard specifically prohibits “domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.” Further, Harvard expands the strict definition of punishable offenses to include the following:
- Observing, videotaping, photographing, or otherwise making a record of sexual activity or nudity without knowledge and consent
- Sharing said visual or auditory records without knowledge and consent
- Unwanted sexual advances
- Inappropriately commenting on or touching another individual's body
- Requests for sexual favors in lieu of promised benefits
- Sexually suggestive comments, jokes, innuendoes, or gestures
Whether your student's allegation falls under the Title IX or Interim Other policy, you will work with the Office for Dispute Resolution to follow your student's case. When the complainant (or person who submitted the allegation against your child) files their accusation, the Office for Dispute Resolution will notify all involved parties in writing regarding the alleged infraction.
At this point, the Office for Dispute Resolution will undertake an Initial Review of the submitted claim. The assigned Investigative Team will review all available data to determine whether to dismiss the claim, resolve informally, or pursue an investigation.
Harvard University: What Due Process to Expect
If Harvard's Office for Dispute Resolution decides that your student's case merits a formal investigation, your student will have one week to write a response to the allegations. With this statement, your student has a chance to attach all information that they believe can support their case.
While the statement must be in their own words, you can receive legal help. As this is your student's first opportunity to influence their case, it's crucial to have clever, experienced legal aid when your student crafts this document - as well as throughout the subsequent investigation and formal hearing.
After the Investigative Team collects and analyzes all information relating to the alleged incident, all involved parties will have time to inspect and review the evidence. If you have good legal support at this time, you'll be able to know the entirety of the evidence against your student - and how best to use it in a strong case for your student's innocence.
Finally, at a hearing before a panel of University officials, each party's advisor will have time to ask witnesses questions and follow-up questions. After an examination of the evidence and discussion, the Hearing Panel will decide as to guilt in your student's case. They will also recommend a punitive, restorative, or educational course of action.
Following this decision, your student will have one week to submit an appeal, if they have new information or can prove that there was a procedural irregularity in their case.
During all of these activities, your legal advisor will be best poised to ensure that Harvard does not steamroll your student's rights. Hiring a good legal team is the best way to work towards a favorable outcome.
The Consequences of Sexual Misconduct at Harvard University
When your student faces sexual misconduct charges, you may naturally wonder what punitive measures they will also face. According to the Student Conduct Process at Harvard University, your student could expect any of the following penalties as a result of a sexual misconduct charge:
- Admonishments: This has the weight of a formal warning, and places your student in a state of jeopardy. While there is no repercussion attached, any future infractions will earn your child formal disciplinary action.
- Probation: If the school places your student on probation, that means that your student's status as a Harvard student is under cause for concern. Your student will need to watch their behavior. Any further incidents while your student is under probation will result in a recommendation to dismiss or expel your student.
- Requirement to Withdraw or Recommendation to Dismiss: If the school deems your student's behavior unacceptable enough to merit separation from the school, they will either ask or force your student to leave.
Clearly, there's a lot at stake in your child's sexual misconduct case. As soon as you learn of the allegations against your child, you need to hire a sexual misconduct advisor as quickly as you can to protect your student's future.
Joseph D. Lento: Preeminent Experience as a University Sexual Misconduct Advisor
If you or your student currently faces sexual misconduct accusations, you are likely confused and scared. You need an expert attorney with years of experience successfully managing Title IX and sexual misconduct cases for students across the nation. Whether your student goes to Harvard University or any other school, Joseph D. Lento can assist with support through the investigative process, preparation and representation through a hearing, and any other methods by which Harvard adjudicates your student's sexual misconduct case. Joseph D. Lento will work aggressively towards your student's best outcome. For more information about how we can help you, reach out to the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.