Allegations of sexual misconduct can be devastating for young people and their families. Navigating your school's misconduct policy in a time of heightened emotions is challenging for anyone. Penalties can be grave, and the process is made more challenging by the stigma of allegations looming over your bright future at UCLA. In these situations, the burden of proof often falls more upon the accused than the accuser. While UCLA has a responsibility to give you a fair hearing, it is imperative that you understand their complex dual-adjudication process so you can defend your future.
California Colleges and Title IX or Sexual Misconduct Cases
Historically colleges and universities have processed sexual harassment and misconduct claims under the federal civil rights law Title IX.
The University of California and other California campuses have recently made changes to their Title IX processes in light of new federal regulations.
Amongst other changes, new Title IX guidance limits investigations to a narrower definition of sexual harassment. However, campuses can and will sanction behaviors outside this definition as violations of their own student conduct code. If facing charges of sexual misconduct, you may be coming up against individual school policies in addition to, or instead of, Title IX.
Chief among these revisions, institutions must now allow direct questioning in cross-examinations by a student's advisor/attorney-advisor. A knowledgeable attorney-advisor can help keep the school accountable to its own rules and protect your right to due process.
A Summary of New Title IX Guidelines
The new regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Education went into effect on August 14, 2020. They require the colleges to follow a specific grievance process in response to conduct covered by the regulations.
If adjudicated under Title IX, the following revisions will be pertinent to your case:
- Your school must investigate allegations of sexual misconduct, including a mandatory live hearing and cross-examination of witnesses.
- If alleged misconduct took place on campus or in the school's program, including off-campus fraternity and sorority houses, the college must investigate. Occurrences on off-campus housing or overseas do not apply.
- Previously, the Department of Education could punish schools if they ‘reasonably should' have known about an assault. Now schools must have ‘actual knowledge' of the accusation.
- The new guidelines change the scope of misconduct, narrowing the definitions of harassment.
UCLA: Your School's Title IX Policy
The University of California has a system-wide Title IX office and Title IX director covering all its campuses, including UCLA. The Title IX Office will investigate sexual misconduct claims filed against any community member across all University campuses, programs, and activities.
The University was vocal in its criticism of Title IX changes but has nevertheless revised its policies to fully implement them within its dual adjudication process.
The school's own policy is broader in application than the Title IV regulations. As well as Title IX, UCLA students are held to account under The University of California's Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment Policy. The school policy notes that they will go down the Title IV route when required but will otherwise follow its existing processes.
UCLA: Your School's Sexual Misconduct Policy
The University of California has positioned itself as progressive in handling sexual misconduct cases. UC President Janet Napolitano was reported in the LA Times criticizing “misguided” Title IX rule changes, insisting the institution would continue their “hard-won momentum through education, prevention, and processes that are fair and compassionate to all parties.”
School policy strictly prohibits sexual violence, harassment, and retaliation, and employees are obligated to report sexual misconduct to the Title IX Director. The policy reflects that these definitions encompass “a broad spectrum of conduct, not all of which is sexual violence.” This leaves a level of discretion to the Title IX Officer in determining whether an allegation can be charged as sexual violence or sexual harassment. Unfortunately, there is some ambiguity in determining what behaviors should face punitive measures, which makes it all the more important to level a suitable defense.
UCLA: What Due Process to Expect
If conducted in full, the process occurs in the following order:
- formal investigation
- proposed sanction
- opportunity to contest the preliminary determination
- hearing to determine policy violations
- appeal process
On receiving a report, the Title IX Officer will make an initial assessment to determine whether to begin a Title IX Grievance Process or Alternative Resolution. Your school's policy makes it clear that the Title IX grievance process will be followed “when (and only when) required,” preferring an Alternative Resolution instead.
In either case, they will prepare a written report, applying the preponderance of the evidence standard. The adjudicators may decide to mete out punitive measures informally. Both parties will be informed of the outcome. If you contest their decision or should the accused request it, the next stage will be a hearing. At this hearing, both you and your accuser will have time to state your cases. Once the Designated Administrator and their panel make a final decision, you will have a short period of time to appeal. After that, the school will consider your case closed.
The Consequences of Sexual Misconduct at UCLA
At UCLA, the consequences of misconduct can be wide-ranging. According to the UC Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment, the sanctions you face could include:
- dismissal from the University of California
- suspension from the University of California
- exclusion from areas of the campus and/or from official University functions
- loss of privileges and/or exclusion from activities
- other actions as outlined in University policy and campus regulations
Beyond these immediate sanctions, a record of sexual misconduct can have far-reaching consequences for your future.
Joseph D. Lento: Experienced College Sexual Misconduct Advisor
If you are facing sexual misconduct allegations at UCLA, hiring an attorney-advisor experienced in student defense can help even the odds, giving you that precious shot at reclaiming your future. Joseph D. Lento has successfully defended students all across the nation in their Title IX and sexual misconduct cases. Whatever stage you are at in the process, Joseph D. Lento will work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome. For more information about how we can help you, call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.