Have you or a loved one been accused of college sexual misconduct at a university or college in Vermont? If so, it is critical to have an experienced attorney-advisor who can work towards trying to ensure a fair process and a favorable outcome. In the past, most college sexual misconduct cases have been the jurisdiction of Title IX regulations, under the Department of Education. However, in the spring of 2020, the Department of Education updated their guidelines by issuing the Title IX Final Rule, and subsequently, most colleges and universities in Vermont are addressing allegations that fall outside of Title IX's jurisdiction via school hearings and procedures. Many have reviewed and updated their code of conduct or student handbook to cover "non-Title IX" college sexual misconduct. These allegations can negatively impact students, far beyond their college education. An experienced attorney-advisor can help you navigate the investigation and potential hearing process and mitigate the effects.
What are the Long-Term Ramifications Of College Sexual Misconduct Charges?
College sexual misconduct allegations have the potential to create serious collateral consequences for you or your loved one. It's critical to address them head-on. Lack of attention can lead to significant ramifications such as the following.
- If the investigation or hearing results in suspension, for example, your financial aid status may be affected. As a result, you could lose some of your grants or loans due to not having enough credit hours. College is already expensive enough and being saddled with extra debt is no way to start your adult life.
- Depending on the charges and the judgment by the school, disciplinary action could result in expulsion. Any kind of disciplinary sanction can have far-reaching impact, but an expulsion can make it all but impossible to get into another school.
- Any decisions that your college or university makes may be added to your permanent academic record. This can make it incredibly challenging to transfer to another school and to apply to graduate school. Law school, medical school, and other graduate studies are highly competitive, and a black mark such as this could strongly reduce your chances of admission.
- Sometimes when a student is facing college sexual misconduct allegations, there are also issues to face outside of the school setting. These additional concerns can have long-term ramifications on a student's personal reputation, ability to find jobs, and even rent an apartment.
What can I do if I've been accused of college sexual misconduct?
If you've been accused of college sexual misconduct, you might feel very overwhelmed right now, and that's natural, especially with so much at stake. It's important to slow down and take a few breaths. Then, here are several steps you can take to protect yourself, advocate for your rights, and fight for a favorable outcome.
Don't answer questions about the situation or discuss it with anyone at your school
You have a right not to answer any questions. If public safety or campus police ask about the event, politely decline to answer their questions. Be respectful, but do not speak with them about it. You may also be tempted to talk about what you're undergoing with your friends or a mentor at your school. Avoid this desire. Find people to talk with who are outside of your school community.
Don't contact your accuser
Although this might be a strong temptation, it's best to follow this rule of thumb. If your accuser reaches out to you, do not reply. Do not initiate any form of communication, either. Any communication between the two of you can impact your hearings and be used against you. This includes asking friends or acquaintances to deliver messages or act as a go-between.
Select and consult with a college sexual misconduct advisor
If a Vermont university or college initiates a college sexual misconduct investigation, you want to make sure that you have someone who has your best interests as their priority. An experienced attorney-advisor can work beside you and on your behalf to ensure that your rights are protected. Research attorney-advisors and select one who has successfully defended students in the past. They'll be able to fight by your side and work for the best possible outcome during a very challenging time.
Become familiar with your school's Code of Conduct or Student Handbook
This is critical, especially with the changes that have recently occurred. Most colleges and universities in Vermont have updated their Code of Conduct and their student handbook to reflect the more stringent standards that no longer fall under Title IX's jurisdiction. Your Vermont school's handbook will outline the disciplinary policies and procedures at your school. You'll want to spend time understanding how the process will unfold. It'll also help you feel more comfortable with your obligations as a respondent at your school.
Document, document, document
If you're facing college sexual misconduct charges, you should begin documenting and recording everything. Gather together anything that might assist your attorney-advisor to decide how to navigate your case. Save any communication records—text, email, snaps, DMs—and share them with your attorney-advisor. An experienced one will understand how the evidence that you collect may either strengthen or weaken your defense. They also can advise you on things you might have forgotten to document or evidence you didn't consider.
What Do The New Title IX Changes Mean?
In Vermont, many colleges and universities have adapted their policies to respond to the new guidelines put forward by the Department of Education. For example, Vermont Technical College, and all the VSC system schools, updated their sexual misconduct policies. Within this document, VSC outlines that might have been considered Title IX conduct, but is no longer, is now categorized as Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct, Assault, Domestic Violence, and so forth.
An Experienced Vermont College Sexual Misconduct Advisor
If you or a loved one faces college sexual misconduct allegations in Vermont, you don't have to face them by yourself. You must take the right steps right away so that you can ensure you receive a fair process and can work towards a favorable outcome. An experienced attorney-advisor will work with you and for you toward the best possible outcome. Joseph D. Lento has many years of experience fighting Title IX sexual misconduct cases and code of conduct cases. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-536-3686 or contact us online.
Vermont 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:
- Bennington College
- Castleton State College
- Champlain College
- College of St Joseph
- Community College of Vermont
- Goddard College
- Green Mountain College
- Johnson State College
- Landmark College
- Lyndon State College
- Marlboro College
- Middlebury College
- Norwich University
- Saint Michael's College
- Southern Vermont College
- Sterling College
- University of Vermont
- Vermont Technical College
It is critical to make certain the college sexual misconduct investigation at your Vermont 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 Vermont 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.