Have You Been Accused of College Sexual Misconduct in Alaska?
If you're reading this page, there's a likelihood that you or a loved one is facing allegations of college sexual misconduct. You may be at the beginning of the investigation or already engaged in the disciplinary hearing or proceeding at an Alaska college or university. Whatever stage you're at, it's critical to ensure that you understand the potential impact on your future. Your rights may be at stake and your future, beyond school, at risk. Don't wait until the hearing concludes to seek help. An experienced college sexual misconduct attorney-advisor can walk with you and help you navigate your school's particular process.
Collateral Consequences Associated with College Sexual Misconduct
In the short-term, if your Alaskan college or university elects to pursue disciplinary action based on the findings of their investigation, you could face disciplinary sanctions including the possibility of suspension or expulsion. This could interrupt your studies and potentially impact your grades and your timeline for graduating from school.
Long-term consequences, however, are often referred to as "collateral consequences," and there are many associated with college sexual misconduct allegations. If your school disciplines, there is a possibility that your financial aid eligibility or award could be affected. This most often occurs when a student is not registered for the required credits necessary to keep status as a full-time student for example, in cases involving suspension. Loss of financial aid could impact your future credit, and the permanent mark on your academic record could affect your ability to attend graduate school. Expulsion from a college or university for a finding sexual misconduct can make it all but impossible to get into another school. The college sexual misconduct allegations might also be tied into additional concerns that the accuser chooses to pursue outside the school setting. All of these consequences could affect your reputation and your earning ability over time.
What Do the New Title IX Guidelines Mean for College Sexual Misconduct Allegations?
In the past, Title IX compliance offices have handled most college sexual misconduct charges. If universities and colleges in Alaska were not compliant and following the stringent requirements, their federal funds were at risk. However, in May 2020, Betsy DeVos' Department of Education issued new guidelines for all Title IX cases. The updated guidelines narrow the definition of sexual misconduct and change the location requirements. In the past, events that occurred off-campus fell under the school's jurisdiction. However, the new guidelines limit Title IX offenses to those that occur on school property. DeVos stated that the new guidelines are meant to protect the rights of all involved, especially the accused. The guidelines also allow schools to choose from two standards of evidence, rather than only requiring a "preponderance of evidence."
As a response to these new guidelines, colleges and universities in Alaska have revisited and revised their student handbooks and codes of conduct. Most of the changes equip schools to handle college sexual misconduct allegations with the same level of severity, but under the school's jurisdiction, rather than through the Title IX guidelines.
Actions to Take if You've Been Accused of College Sexual Misconduct
If you've been accused of college sexual misconduct, there are several steps you can take to help protect your rights and your future. Perhaps you thought that an interaction was consensual, and so you're surprised by the allegations. Although your head might be spinning, it's essential to take the steps listed below.
- Don't answer any questions about the situation or talk about it with anybody at your school - You have the right to remain silent, regardless of whether campus police or public safety question you. You don't have to answer their questions or communicate with them. Be respectful when you decline to answer their questions but be firm. It's also best to avoid talking about your circumstances with anyone else connected to your college or university. This includes friends, teachers, advisors, mentors. It may be hard because you want support during this challenging time. However, you must turn to support beyond and outside of your school community and network.
- Don't reach out to your accuser - In a similar vein, under no circumstances should you speak with your accuser. You may want to talk to them and try to clear up the situation. Your school could use any interactions that occur between the two of you during their college sexual misconduct investigation. Don't text, call, email, or reach out in any way whatsoever.
- Find and consult with a college sexual misconduct advisor as soon as possible -If your Alaskan school is conducting a college sexual misconduct investigation under their code of conduct or regent's guidelines, you'll want to make sure that you have someone who will fight for your rights and on your behalf. An attorney-advisor with experience defending these types of investigations will be able to advise you on how to best defend against your school's disciplinary proceedings.
- Read and understand your school's Code of Conduct or Student Handbook - Each university and college in Alaska has its own unique process for handling and investigating college sexual misconduct allegations. Your school's code of conduct or student handbook will outline the entire process so that you have a sense of what to expect and what the potential ramifications could be.
- Document everything - Starting today, keep track of everything associated with the case. Gather it together for your attorney-advisor so that they can review and assess how the information could impact your defense.
Experienced Alaska College Sexual Misconduct Advisor
Sometimes, as a result of external pressure, colleges rush through proceedings such as these or otherwise do not allow a fair process for a respondent. With such an important decision on the line, an attorney-advisor can advocate to ensure that proceedings are fair and balanced. Joseph D. Lento has extensive Title IX experience and has handled countless code of conduct cases in the past. Sexual misconduct is an incredibly serious allegation, and the impact of it can be substantial. Call the Lento Law Firm today for a consultation at 888-535-3686 or contact us online with your questions.
Alaska colleges and universities where Joseph D. Lento can help as your or your student's college sexual misconduct advisor during investigations, hearings, and appeals include, but are not limited to, the following schools:
- Alaska Bible College
- Alaska Pacific University
- Charter College Anchorage
- Ilisagvik College
- Prince William Sound Community College
- University of Alaska Anchorage
- University of Alaska Fairbanks
- University of Alaska Southeast
It is critical to make certain the college sexual misconduct investigation at your Alaska school is handled properly and that the accused student's interests are protected from as early as possible during the sexual misconduct investigative process. One major reason is because even at colleges and universities where a finding of responsibility for sexual misconduct charges is made at a hearing, the investigation will set the stage for what the hearing panel is provided prior to a hearing (and what the hearing panel will in large part rely on at a hearing), and at schools where the finding of responsibility is made solely through the investigative process, what takes place during the investigation itself will determine whether the accused is found responsible or not responsible for college sexual misco