When students attend colleges, they likely have a few goals: Working towards a degree, establishing lifelong friendships - and staying safe. Since keeping students safe is such a necessity, all Mississippi colleges have numerous initiatives in place to make all campuses and sponsored events assure as can be.
Title IX incentivizes this safety at a national level. Under Title IX, all schools must investigate all allegations of sexual misconduct or risk losing their funding. In theory, this should result in protective actions for all students. However, as any student who stands accused of sexual misconduct knows, Title IX and related laws tend to make schools forget that they have a duty towards accused students as well.
All Mississippi schools have a code of conduct to help manage academic infractions. Recently, with the new amendments to Title IX, many schools are scrambling to figure out how to build new processes. As the nature of the governed allegations remains the same, many schools may adapt existing Title IX processes to new circumstances.
Navigating these processes can be overwhelming. All students who are facing allegations of sexual misconduct at their Mississippi schools should work with a qualified legal advisor to put together their best case.
Title IX: What Difference do the New Guidelines Make for Your Mississippi School?
Once a student knows that they are facing sexual misconduct allegations, the first thing they need to do is examine their school's code of conduct. These documents contain vital information about a school's grievance procedures, Title IX and sexual misconduct definitions, any punitive measures a student may be able to expect, and more.
The Department of Education released its updated guidance in May of 2020. Since then, many Mississippi schools have released statements regarding their response to the new regulations. For example, Mississippi College's website, updated in August of 2020, details updated hearing recommendations based on the government's recent guidance. Others, such as Northeast Mississippi Community College, simply issued a revised code of conduct reflecting the Department of Education's updates.
In many cases, the type of misconduct that was previously governed under Title IX will remain very similar. Therefore, some colleges may also adapt a dual litigation process - one where the school manages any relevant events under both Title IX and similar sexual misconduct policies.
One thing will always remain the same: Students accused of sexual assault or misconduct need to check with their school's specific policies. Then, students need to contact an experienced legal advisor. Going through this alone can be overwhelming—and working with a legal advisor can increase a student's odds of a favorable outcome.
What to Expect During Sexual Misconduct Proceedings at Your Mississippi College or University
If you stand accused of sexual misconduct, there are a few things you need to know before your school starts proceedings against you. First of all, here are a few things to do (or not do) once you find out that you face a Title IX or sexual misconduct case:
- Don't confide in anyone, particularly anyone who works at your school. Even if they seem sympathetic, anything you say is evidence.
- Document everything. Social media posts, texts, pictures, anything—once you start working with a legal advisor to build your case, any piece of information could be crucial.
- Don't reach out to your accuser. Especially if their accusations are unwarranted, it can be tempting to contact your accuser to learn more about their motivations. Don't do this.
Going through sexual misconduct proceedings at your Mississippi school can be confusing. While your specific school's procedure will be in your student handbook, there will be similarities between every school's processes. Here's what you may be able to expect:
- First, your accuser will confirm the allegations they filed against you.
- After your school receives this information, they will appoint an investigator to your case. This investigator will start to collect evidence to learn precisely what happened.
- Over the weeks following the initial accusation, the school-appointed investigator will work with both the accuser and the accused student. If you have legal representation, make sure you have them present at every meeting with the investigator. These meetings are good opportunities to ensure you know everything you need to know about your school's sexual misconduct processes.
- After the investigator has collected all evidence, they will review their findings and issue a preliminary decision.
- As a result of that decision, your school will either open a formal investigation with a scheduled hearing or simply mete out punitive measures.
- After any hearing or investigative procedures, the investigator will send all parties involved in the event a copy of the investigative report.
- After this, you will have a chance to ask questions. You also have the right to receive answers to those questions.
- Finally, your school will recommend consequences based on the findings of the investigation. Punishments tend to vary and can range from a simple loss of privileges, probation, suspension, or expulsion. If a student is found responsible, the baseline would often be suspension at a minimum, however.
- At the end of the process, you do have a certain amount of time to appeal the decision, but this varies by school.
Sexual misconduct proceedings can be exhausting and overwhelming, and working with an experienced attorney advisor can be a hugely beneficial step as you go through the process.
Joseph D. Lento is Ready to Help You Build Your Best Case
If you stand accused of sexual misconduct and require assistance with your defense, Joseph D. Lento is ready to help. After fundamentally handling hundreds of student discipline and misconduct cases under both Title IX and schools' Codes of Conduct, he has the experience and expertise necessary to help guide you through your school's proceedings. For years, Joseph D. Lento has been able to help students all across the United States protect their rights, and he's ready to do the same for you. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 to learn more about how they can best help you and your case.
Mississippi 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:
- Alcorn State University
- Antonelli College Hattiesburg
- Antonelli College Jackson
- Belhaven University
- Blue Cliff College Gulfport
- Blue Mountain College
- Coahoma Community College
- Copiah Lincoln Community College
- Delta State University
- East Central Community College
- East Mississippi Community College
- Hinds Community College
- Holmes Community College
- Itawamba Community College
- ITT Technical Institute Madison
- Jackson State University
- Jones County Junior College
- Meridian Community College
- Miller Motte Technical College Gulfport
- Millsaps College
- Mississippi College
- Mississippi Delta Community College
- Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
- Mississippi State University
- Mississippi University for Women
- Mississippi Valley State University
- Northeast Mississippi Community College
- Northwest Mississippi Community College
- Pearl River Community College
- Rust College
- Southeastern Baptist College
- Southwest Mississippi Community College
- Tougaloo College
- University of Mississippi
- University of Phoenix Jackson Campus
- University of Southern Mississippi
- Virginia College Biloxi
- William Carey University
It is critical to make certain the college sexual misconduct investigation at your Mississippi 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 Mississippi 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.