Are You Facing a College Sexual Misconduct Investigation?
If you are a student facing accusations of college sexual misconduct, it's smart to consider consulting with an attorney-advisor who will dedicate themselves to fight for you and protect your rights. Although most college sexual misconduct allegations have fallen under Title IX guidelines in the past, recent changes by the Department of Education mean that many schools in Illinois are now handling these allegations under their Code of Conduct and Student Handbook. College sexual misconduct allegations can have far-reaching effects, beyond just your college year.
How College Sexual Misconduct Allegations May Impact Your Future
Due to the seriousness of college sexual misconduct allegations, it's critical to understand the potential impact on your future. The biggest mistake a student can make is to underestimate the consequences and subsequently under-prepare. Here are some possible long-term effects.
- Personal reputation can be affected.
- Disciplinary action could lead to suspension or expulsion from the school.
- Expulsion or suspension can impact your Financial Aid status, saddling you with extra debt or breaking your terms due to not attending enough credit hours during the semester.
- Findings and decisions from the college's hearing could be added to your permanent record, making it harder (or maybe impossible) to transfer to a new school or apply for an internship, graduate school, etc.
- Depending on the circumstances, you may face criminal charges outside of the school.
How Do Title IX Changes Affect College Sexual Misconduct Investigations?
The most important thing to understand about the new Title IX guidelines is that while they balance the scales to a more fair process for all parties involved, many Illinois colleges and universities will still handle college sexual misconduct accusations in the same manner. The difference is that now they will do so using their Code of Conduct or their Student Handbook.
Many Illinois schools have updated their websites to indicate this policy change, or rather continuance. The University of Chicago states: “Accordingly, the new policy applies to conduct that occurs within the University's domestic on- and off-campus education programs or activities. The new regulations also require the University to follow a prescribed process for the investigation and adjudication of matters involving allegations of Title IX sexual harassment, which includes holding live hearings and allowing cross-examination of parties and witnesses by a party's representative. Under the new policy, and as required by Illinois law, the University will continue to use the preponderance of evidence standard as its standard of proof.
Under the new regulations, the University will continue to address other forms of harassment, discrimination, and sexual misconduct that do not constitute sexual harassment under Title IX.” Other schools, such as Northwestern and Illinois Institute of Technology, have taken similar action.
Steps to Take if You're Accused of College Sexual Misconduct
If you've been accused of college sexual misconduct in Illinois, there are several steps you can take to protect yourself. It's critical to follow the steps below to protect your rights and fight for a favorable outcome.
Don't contact or communicate with your accuser
You may be tempted to reach out to your accuser. Don't. Any communication that occurs between the two of you (or via a third party) can be used as evidence, depending on the disciplinary procedures at your school. This means that all communication should stop. Don't phone, text, email, DM, or Snapchat. Any interactions may be used during the college sexual misconduct investigation.
Don't discuss your situation with anyone at the school
You may be contacted by campus police or by public safety at the school. If so, do not answer any questions that they ask you. You may decline a response. During this challenging time, it's natural to want to turn to mentors (such as faculty or coaches) or to want to connect with your friends and your social network. Resist this impulse and desire. If you need to discuss the college sexual misconduct investigation with someone, pick someone without any connection to the school.
Reach out to a college sexual misconduct advisor as soon as possible
If an Illinois college or university investigates a college sexual misconduct allegation that involves you, you want to make sure that you have someone who can fight by your side for the most favorable outcome possible. An attorney advisor can help you with this. Someone who's successfully defended students before can make recommendations about how to best protect your rights.
Review your school's Code of Conduct or Student Handbook
Each school in Illinois has its own Code of Conduct, often (but not always) found in the Student Handbook. If you look there, you'll find the procedures and processes for college sexual misconduct allegations. Understanding the process can impact how your case proceeds. Each school has its own disciplinary policies, and so you'll want to examine this carefully. Doing so will enable you to better understand both your rights and your obligations as a respondent at your school.
Document and record everything that happens
If you've been accused of college sexual misconduct, you'll want to gather everything that might possibly assist with your case, whether it's records or communication or an accounting of facts. An experienced attorney-advisor will have an understanding of the role this evidence can play in strengthening or weakening your defense.
The Role of an Attorney-Advisor
An advisor is there to help you navigate this challenging process and experience that is high-stakes. Their expertise in defending students in similar situations means that they will help you adequately prepare for hearings and interviews. They can also negotiate with the school's attorney on your behalf, if the occasion arises, allowing for a mutually-agreed upon resolution.
An Experienced Illinois College Sexual Misconduct Advisor
If you or a loved one has been accused of college sexual misconduct at an Illinois school, you must take the proper steps as early as possible in the process so that you can ensure a fair process and attempt to gain a favorable outcome. An attorney-advisor with experience handling hundreds of Code of Conduct cases and Title IX cases is the ideal person to help you navigate this challenging time. Joseph D. Lento has many years of experience fighting for his clients' rights when it comes to Code of Conduct cases, sexual misconduct cases, and Title IX investigations. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-536-3686 or contact us online so we can help you out.
Illinois 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:
- American Academy of Art
- American InterContinental University Online
- Argosy University Chicago
- Argosy University Schaumburg
- Augustana College
- Aurora University
- Benedictine University
- Black Hawk College
- Blackburn College
- Bradley University
- Carl Sandburg College
- Chamberlain College of Nursing Illinois
- Chicago State University
- Christian Life College
- City Colleges of Chicago Harold Washington College
- City Colleges of Chicago Harry S Truman College
- City Colleges of Chicago Kennedy King College
- City Colleges of Chicago Malcolm X College
- City Colleges of Chicago Olive Harvey College
- City Colleges of Chicago Richard J Daley College
- City Colleges of Chicago Wilbur Wright College
- College of DuPage
- College of Lake County
- Columbia College Chicago
- Concordia University Chicago
- Danville Area Community College
- DePaul University
- DeVry University Illinois
- Dominican University
- East West University
- Eastern Illinois University
- Elgin Community College
- Elmhurst College
- Eureka College
- Fox College Inc .
- Greenville College
- Harper College
- Harrington College of Design
- Heartland Community College
- Hebrew Theological College
- Highland Community College
- Illinois Central College
- Illinois College
- Illinois Eastern Community Colleges Frontier Community College
- Illinois Eastern Community Colleges Lincoln Trail College
- Illinois Eastern Community Colleges Olney Central College
- Illinois Eastern Community Colleges Wabash Valley College
- Illinois Institute of Technology
- Illinois State University
- Illinois Valley Community College
- Illinois Wesleyan University
- International Academy of Design and Technology Chicago
- ITT Technical Institute Mount Prospect
- ITT Technical Institute Oak Brook
- ITT Technical Institute Orland Park
- John A Logan College
- John Wood Community
- Joliet Junior College
- Judson University
- Kankakee Community College
- Kaskaskia College
- Kendall College
- Kishwaukee College
- Knox College
- Lake Forest College
- Lake Land College
- Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts Chicago
- Lewis and Clark Community College
- Lewis University
- Lexington College
- Lincoln Christian University
- Lincoln College
- Lincoln Land Community College
- Loyola University Chicago
- MacCormac College
- MacMurray College
- McHenry County College
- McKendree University
- Methodist College of Nursing
- Midstate College
- Millikin University
- Monmouth College
- Moody Bible Institute
- Moraine Valley Community College
- Morrison Institute of Technology
- Morton College
- National Louis University
- North Central College
- North Park University
- Northeastern Illinois University
- Northern Illinois University
- Northwestern College
- Northwestern College Southwestern Campus
- Northwestern University
- Oakton Community College
- Olivet Nazarene University
- Pacific College of Oriental Medicine Chicago
- Parkland College
- Prairie State College
- Quincy University
- Rend Lake College
- Richland Community College
- Robert Morris University Illinois
- Rock Valley College
- Rockford Career College
- Rockford College
- Roosevelt University
- Saint Augustine College
- Saint Xavier University
- Sanford Brown College Collinsville
- Sanford Brown College Hillside
- Sauk Valley Community College
- School of the Art Institute of Chicago
- Shawnee Community College
- Shimer College
- South Suburban College
- Southeastern Illinois College
- Southern Illinois University Carbondale
- Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
- Southwestern Illinois College
- Spoon River College
- Taylor Business Institute
- Telshe Yeshiva Chicago
- The Illinois Institute of Art Chicago
- The Illinois Institute of Art Schaumburg
- Trinity Christian College
- Trinity College of Nursing and Health Sciences
- Trinity International University
- Triton College
- University of Chicago
- University of Illinois at Chicago
- University of Illinois at Springfield
- University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
- University of Phoenix Chicago Campus
- University of St Francis
- VanderCook College of Music
- Vatterott College Quincy
- Waubonsee Community College
- Western Illinois University
- Westwood College Chicago Loop
- Westwood College Dupage
- Westwood College O'Hare Airport
- Westwood College River Oaks
- Wheaton College
It is critical to make certain the college sexual misconduct investigation at your Illinois 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 misconduct charges.
Unfortunately, some students, families, and college employees make the mistake of not taking the necessary precautions as soon as possible when accused of sexual misconduct at college. Some people will mistakenly believe that if they "just explain what happened," their college or university will be fair and impartial and will arrive at the truth. In a perfect world this may be the case, but in a perfect world, sexual misconduct cases would not exist.
Fighting passionately for the future of his clients at universities and colleges throughout the nation for many years, Joseph D. Lento knows how important it is to mount the strongest defense because he understands that an accused's academic and professional future is on the line. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph Lento is a licensed attorney in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted as an attorney pro hac vice in state and federal court if needed when representing clients nationwide, and serves as a college sexual misconduct advisor to students and others in academia facing sexual misconduct investigations and Title IX disciplinary cases in Illinois and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National College Sexual Misconduct Attorney Joseph D. Lento today at 888-535-3686 or by completing our online form.