If you or someone you're close with is facing a college sexual misconduct allegation, it can be a nerve-racking time. You probably have a million questions about how to proceed and what the future holds in store. No matter the facts of the case, it's important to arm yourself with knowledge about what comes next.
Likely, the university has already begun to investigate the case. If they find that sexual misconduct occurred, they can invoke harsh punishments up to suspension and expulsion. Students also have the right to select an advisor to help them through the investigation process. An attorney can provide you with the knowledge and experience necessary to create a strong defense.
Schools have also changed their sexual misconduct policies in response to recent Title IX updates made by the Department of Education. These updates have further impacted how schools deal with sexual misconduct. Many universities also have separate policies in place for sexual misconduct that falls outside the scope of Title IX.
In college sexual misconduct cases, the best course of action is to contact an experienced attorney. They can provide you with the legal knowledge and expertise you need to navigate the case. Here's what you need to know about college sexual misconduct cases here in Maine.
What is Sexual Misconduct?
The Department of Education forbids sexual misconduct under the grounds of gender discrimination. Title IX policy requires universities to investigate all sexual misconduct allegations to ensure students' rights to a discrimination-free campus.
Although Title IX policy has been in place for decades, the Department of Education's new guidelines has a major impact on sexual misconduct cases. To comply with the new guidelines, universities must investigate all sexual misconduct that meets the Department of Education's definition.
The Department of Education considers sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, rape, stalking, and retaliation to be sexual misconduct. The definition includes quid pro quo sexual harassment and harassment that is severe and pervasive.
What about other types of sexual misconduct? In many cases, other forms of sexual misconduct are still prohibited by the university. Schools outline this information in their student code of conduct. They have key details about what acts are forbidden and what the punishment is for violating the policy.
Sexual Misconduct Policies in Maine
The Department of Education's new policy went into effect at universities across the country in August 2020. As a result, many universities revised their existing sexual misconduct policies. However, schools may still punish students for participating in acts that fall outside of the new sexual misconduct definition.
The University of Maine's student code of conduct policy forbids forms of sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and retaliation. It also prohibits sexual harassment that “creates a hostile environment,” is “severe, pervasive, or persistent, and objectively offensive,” and “unreasonably interferes with an individual's academic or work performance.”
Moving forward, it's reasonable to expect that other local universities will follow the University of Maine's example. They may follow both Title IX policy as well as their student code of conduct policy to determine the punishment for prohibited behavior.
Punishment for sexual misconduct can include probation, suspension, or expulsion from the school and its organizations. Students may also risk losing access to school programs such as student housing or financial aid. That's not to mention the fees, damage to reputation, and psychological toll that come with a sexual misconduct charge.
How to Defend Against Sexual Misconduct Allegations
If you're dealing with sexual misconduct allegations, it's essential to prepare a proper defense. There are a few steps you should follow to protect yourself during an investigation. Here are some things you should do:
Do Not Discuss Details With the School
Your university may offer you the option to use a school advisor to help you in the investigation. Although it may seem like they're on your side, their loyalty belongs to the school. Anything you tell them can be used against you in the case.
Review Sexual Misconduct Policies
It can be helpful to review not only Title IX policy, but also your student code of conduct. Checking these items will help you prepare your defense and understand your rights.
Avoid Contact With the Accuser
You may be tempted to reach out to an accuser to clear up confusion about the allegation. However, communicating with an accuser can put your case at risk and negatively impact you during the investigation.
Hire a College Sexual Misconduct Attorney-Advisor
You must begin preparing for the investigation right away. An experienced attorney will provide you with knowledge, guide you through the investigation, and help you avoid any pitfalls along the way. They can also fight back against the university should they infringe upon your rights.
Prepare a Defense
Your attorney will help you prepare for cross-examination. Don't be afraid to share with them critical details about the incident. Anything you tell them cannot be used against you in the investigation. The information could prove valuable in collecting evidence and preparing your defense.
The Benefits of Using a College Sexual Misconduct Attorney
Sexual misconduct penalties can follow you for years. You may be expelled from school or face difficulties in applying for higher education at other universities.
An attorney will fight for a positive outcome and help you defend yourself against allegations. By using an experienced attorney, you will gain years of knowledge and trial experience that will prove invaluable in your investigation. Attorneys will work hard to keep all information private and also defend against biased determinations.
Experienced Maine College Sexual Misconduct Advisor
If you need an advisor in a college or university sexual misconduct case, attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm is here to help. For many years, the Lento Law Firm has established itself as an expert in college sexual misconduct proceedings and Title IX law. They will use their knowledge and experience to get you the best possible result in your case. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 today.
Maine 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:
- Bates College
- Bowdoin College
- Central Maine Community College
- Central Maine Medical Center College of Nursing and Health Professions
- Colby College
- College of the Atlantic
- Eastern Maine Community College
- Husson University
- Kaplan University Maine Campus
- Kennebec Valley Community College
- Landing School of Boat Building and Design
- Maine College of Art
- Maine Maritime Academy
- New England School of Communications
- Northern Maine Community College
- Saint Joseph's College of Maine
- Southern Maine Community College
- Thomas College
- Unity College
- University of Maine
- University of Maine at Augusta
- University of Maine at Farmington
- University of Maine at Fort Kent
- University of Maine at Machias
- University of Maine at Presque Isle
- University of New England
- University of Southern Maine
- Washington County Community College
- York County Community College
It is critical to make certain the college sexual misconduct investigation at your Maine 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 Maine 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.