College sexual misconduct investigations can be a long and painful process. If you've been accused of sexual misconduct by a Massachusetts college, you're likely already facing an investigation. Being found guilty of sexual misconduct is a serious issue that can lead to long-term problems like suspension or expulsion and related consequences.
Although schools across the nation handle disciplinary proceedings differently, the federal process of investigating sexual misconduct is mostly uniform. That's because federal law prohibits sexual misconduct on college campuses. The Department of Education forbids all sexual misconduct under Title IX. Their guidelines state that all college sexual misconduct is a form of gender-based discrimination.
As a result, schools must coordinate investigations for sexual misconduct that occur on their campuses and off campus as applicable. Failure to comply will result in a Title IX violation, which could threaten a school's federal funding. Students may also face additional punishment for sexual misconduct allegations that fall outside of Title IX. Massachusetts universities all enforce a student code of conduct, which may further prohibit sexual misconduct acts.
Schools may treat accused students unfairly and undermine their rights during investigations. Here's what you need to know and what's at stake.
What is College Sexual Misconduct?
The Department of Education recently implemented sweeping changes to its sexual misconduct policy. The new regulations change the definition of sexual misconduct and also modify the way schools investigate federal violations.
According to the Department of Education, sexual misconduct includes instances of sexual assault, rape, sexual harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and retaliation. This includes “quid pro quo” arrangements, such as faculty promising benefits in exchange for sex.
Although the new definition of sexual misconduct excludes certain acts, universities may still punish students for acts that fall outside the definition. Schools may also enforce prohibitions on any acts it labels sexual discrimination that is harmful to another person. Examples include sexual exploitation, sexual coercion, unwelcome physical contact, and more. Colleges and universities will also likely pursue sexual misconduct that falls outside of Title IX's jurisdiction.
Punishments for Sexual Misconduct
Sexual misconduct allegations are no laughing matter. Students accused of sexual misconduct face a wide range of punishments. If you're found guilty of sexual misconduct, the consequences can follow you for years. It may be challenging to find admittance to another school or secure a job.
Examples of sexual misconduct punishments include:
- Suspension or expulsion from the school
- Paying fees to the victim
- Losing financial aid from the university
- Charges going on a permanent record
- Difficulty securing a job
- Inability to gain acceptance to another school
- Damage to reputation and personal relationships
What Happens if I'm Accused of Sexual Misconduct?
Students accused of sexual misconduct will most likely face an investigation by their university. The Department of Education requires all schools to investigate sexual misconduct to ensure due process to all parties. As part of their new policy, the determination regarding responsibility must be made by a single live hearing.
Schools may also conduct additional investigations if the misconduct falls outside of Title IX. In these cases, the school decides how to handle the investigation. They may speed up the process, limit due process, and infringe upon student's rights to come to a determination.
You also have the right to an advisor of your choice. An advisor can help you understand the process and prepare your defense for the hearing. In many cases, your school will offer you a faculty advisor. These advisors are employed by the school and may not have your best interest in mind. It's best to choose a knowledgeable advisor, such as an attorney, with no affiliation to the school.
College Sexual Misconduct in Massachusetts
The Department of Education's new regulations went into effect in August 2020. Although the regulations are federally mandated, many leaders have pushed back against the changes. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healy is one of 18 state attorneys to sue the U.S. Department of Education, claiming that the regulations weaken protections for sexual misconduct victims.
The fight against the new regulations impacted many Massachusetts school policies. UMass Amherst recently updated its policies and procedures to meet the new mandates. In an open letter, their Title IX coordinator stated that the new regulations “have received significant resistance” and “all changes to university policy and procedures are being implemented on an interim basis.”
Based on this response, it appears that college sexual misconduct policies will continue to evolve. Many universities who have adopted the revised regulations may institute additional policies. This will allow them to prohibit additional sexual misconduct and enforce punishment as they see fit.
Choosing an Attorney
There are many benefits to choosing an attorney as an advisor in a sexual misconduct case. For one, they have the legal knowledge necessary to fight back against any infringement of rights. Many universities move quickly to resolve sexual misconduct cases. They may not follow their own rules and procedures. An experienced attorney can help you fight back against unfair processes and for a positive outcome. If they suspect unfair treatment, they can even threaten the university with litigation.
An experienced attorney can also advise you throughout the investigation. They will understand the ins and outs of the process and guide you through procedures. They can ensure confidentiality and discretion while working in your best interest. The recent guidelines show just how much sexual misconduct law can change. An attorney will have up to date knowledge of sexual misconduct policy that can prove instrumental to your defense.
Experienced Massachusetts College Sexual Misconduct Advisor
If you or someone you know has been accused of college sexual misconduct in Massachusetts, you should consult with an attorney right away. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have fought for many years to protect students' rights and provide them with expert advice. Don't let the university take away crucial rights. Give the Lento Law Firm a call today at 888-535-3686.
Massachusetts 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 International College
- Amherst College
- Anna Maria College
- Assumption College
- Babson College
- Bard College at Simon's Rock
- Bay Path College
- Bay State College
- Becker College
- Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology
- Bentley University
- Berklee College of Music
- Berkshire Community College
- Boston Architectural College
- Boston Baptist College
- Boston College
- Boston University
- Brandeis University
- Bridgewater State University
- Bristol Community College
- Bunker Hill Community College
- Cambridge College
- Cape Cod Community College
- Clark University
- College of Our Lady of the Elms
- College of the Holy Cross
- Curry College
- Dean College
- Eastern Nazarene College
- Emerson College
- Emmanuel College
- Endicott College
- Fisher College
- Fitchburg State University
- Framingham State University
- Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering
- Gordon College
- Greenfield Community College
- Hampshire College
- Harvard University
- Hellenic College Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology
- Holyoke Community College
- ITT Technical Institute Norwood
- ITT Technical Institute Wilmington
- Laboure College
- Lasell College
- Lawrence Memorial Hospital School of Nursing
- Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts
- Lesley University
- Longy School of Music
- Marian Court College
- Massachusetts Bay Community College
- Massachusetts College of Art and Design
- Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts
- Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Massachusetts Maritime Academy
- Massasoit Community College
- Merrimack College
- Middlesex Community College
- Montserrat College of Art
- Mount Holyoke College
- Mount Ida College
- Mount Wachusett Community College
- New England College of Business
- Newbury College Brookline
- Nichols College
- North Shore Community College
- Northeastern University
- Northern Essex Community College
- Pine Manor College
- Quincy College
- Quinsigamond Community College
- Regis College
- Roxbury Community College
- Saint John's Seminary
- Salem State University
- Sanford Brown College Boston
- School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston
- Simmons College
- Smith College
- Springfield College
- Springfield Technical Community College
- Stonehill College
- Suffolk University
- The Boston Conservatory
- The New England Conservatory of Music
- The New England Institute of Art
- Tufts University
- University of Massachusetts - Amherst
- University of Massachusetts - Boston
- University of Massachusetts - Dartmouth
- University of Massachusetts - Lowell
- University of Phoenix - Boston Campus
- Urban College of Boston
- Wellesley College
- Wentworth Institute of Technology
- Western New England University
- Westfield State University
- Wheaton College
- Wheelock College
- Williams College
- Worcester Polytechnic Institute
- Worcester State University
- Zion Bible College
It is critical to make certain the college sexual misconduct investigation at your Massachusetts 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 Massachusetts 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.