If you've been accused of college sexual misconduct at The Ohio State University, you will almost assuredly face proceedings or disciplinary actions at your college or university. If Ohio State determines that you've violated the sexual misconduct policy, there could be severe consequences: suspension, expulsion, denial of graduate school entrance or internships, loss of scholarships, or inability to get a job. Even an accusation of sexual misconduct is enough to ruin your reputation and set your academic progress back.
Ohio State, like many schools, has its own set of guidelines for processing sexual misconduct claims in addition to federal Title IX regulations. To prevent a sexual misconduct allegation from ruining your life, you need a legal expert who can understand the school's policies and procedures for your hearing.
Sexual Misconduct at The Ohio State University – Two Definitions
A sexual misconduct case may be an Office of Institutional Equity (OIE) case or a Title IX case. Ohio State's sexual misconduct policies differ slightly from Title IX's, including the definition of sexual harassment. Formal complaints under each policy generally proceed in the same manner, with a few key distinctions.
According to Ohio State's interim university policy 1.15, sexual misconduct includes:
- Sexual harassment: Ohio State has two definitions of sexual harassment: one Title IX definition, and one non-Title IX definition. The non-Title IX definition differentiates between an employment context and an education context, as both apply to the university. The Title IX definition only addresses equal access to an education program or activity. Examples of sexual harassment (non-Title IX) would be unwelcome sexual advances or creating a hostile environment with sex- or gender-based harassing conduct.
- Sexual assault: Sexual assault under this policy includes non-consensual sexual contact, non-consensual sexual penetration, incest, and statutory rape. Non-consensual touching of another's private body parts for sexual gratification, or contact with these body parts with an object are examples of sexual assault.
- Relationship violence: Relationship violence includes domestic violence and dating violence. It's violence committed against a spouse, former spouse, intimate partner, or dating partner.
- Stalking: Ohio State considers stalking as conduct, based on sex or gender, targeting an individual that would make that person fear for their own or others' safety or cause emotional distress.
- Sexual exploitation: Sexual exploitation is taking non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of someone else for one's own gain. Examples would be engaging in voyeurism, exposing one's genitals in non-consensual circumstances, or distribution of non-consensual pictures, audio- or video-recordings of sexual activity.
What Happens in a College Sexual Misconduct Case at Ohio State?
Ohio State receives formal sexual misconduct complaints through OIE or the Title IX coordinator. Students can submit complaints to OIE that do not fall under the Title IX policy; Title IX complaints are for violations of the Title IX sexual harassment policy. Anyone can lodge an OIE sexual misconduct complaint for behavior that took place off-campus if it's determined that the alleged sexual misconduct can reasonably create a hostile environment in the education program or activity.
- Initial assessment: OIE reviews all complaints and either sends them to the OIE director or the Title IX coordinator.
- Review of formal complaint: OIE notifies you in writing if someone lodges a sexual misconduct complaint against you. This notice must outline the university's resolution process and informs you that you may consult an attorney as your advisor for the proceedings.
- Dismissal of complaint: If the accuser withdraws their complaint or if the allegation does not meet the definition policy (if the allegation is true), OIE will dismiss the case. If it's a Title IX complaint, the Title IX coordinator must investigate it first before dismissing it.
- Investigation of formal complaint: The investigative resolution phase allows each party to bring witnesses, present facts, and include evidence.
- Hearings: For all formal OIE and Title IX complaints, the university offers students a formal hearing. New Title IX regulations allow cross-examination of parties and witnesses, and the advisor must be the one to cross-examine. Ohio State sexual misconduct hearings use a preponderance of evidence standard.
- Determination regarding responsibility: Once there's a determination, the university informs all parties simultaneously, in writing. The determination will contain information on how to appeal. For OIE complaints, the parties learn later what the sanctions will be.
- Appeals: Both parties may appeal the determination resulting from the hearing.
What to Do if You've Been Accused of College Sexual Misconduct
News of a sexual misconduct accusation lodged against you is scary. Your first instinct might be to panic, but it's important to stay calm. How you proceed after receiving the allegation will set the tone for the entire process. Below are a few tips on how to handle a college sexual misconduct accusation.
- Consult with an advisor: The sooner you can get an experienced legal expert on your side, the higher the chances you'll have a favorable outcome.
- Reread the code of conduct: You can find Ohio State's sexual misconduct policies here. You need to know how your school will handle your case, what your rights are, and the potential consequences.
- Cut off communication with the accuser: Any contact you have with your accuser—phone calls, SMS messages, emails, in-person meetings, etc.—can be used as evidence in your hearing.
- Don't discuss your case with professors or classmates: If you want to talk about the accusation with someone for support or advice, avoid speaking to anyone connected to Ohio State, including friends, professors, or campus police.
- Keep track of everything: Write everything down that you can remember about your case, or that might have to do with it.
Consulting a Student Defense Legal Advisor
A sexual misconduct offense can ruin your college career and damage your prospects. An attorney-advisor will help you understand Ohio State's policies and prepare a solid defense. Joseph Lento of Lento Law Firm has helped students nationwide with Title IX and sexual misconduct cases. He understands federal Title IX regulations as well as the nuances of individual university policies. If you don't want to throw your future away, call the Firm today at (888) 535-3686