Have You Been Accused of College Sexual Misconduct in Virginia?
If you've been accused of college sexual misconduct at a university or college in Virginia, you may already be in the midst of disciplinary proceedings. The stage you're at will depend on your school's code of conduct and its procedures for handling allegations of this nature. Regardless of what stage you're at, you must understand the potential severity of the allegations. Your future, both academic and personal, may be at risk. An experienced attorney-advisor who has defended hundreds of similar cases can fight on your behalf as you navigate this difficult time.
How Do the New Title IX Guidelines Affect College Sexual Misconduct Allegations?
For many years now, Title IX addressed college sexual misconduct complaints. There was a procedure to follow, guidelines to enforce, and so on. Federal funding depended on schools following these standards. However, in May 2020, after several years of study, the Department of Education issued new guidance and regulations. The new guidelines were specifically a response to some of the Obama-era policies, such as the Dear Colleague letter. They were focused on rebalancing the rights of all participants so that the accused received fair hearings.
Many colleges and universities throughout Virginia still will investigate college sexual misconduct to the same degree that they did under the old Title IX guidelines. The schools had until August 14, 2020, to release new guidance that was in line with the revamped Title IX regulations. What many schools did, was choose to enforce the old standards under a revised Code of Conduct or Student Handbook.
For example, the University of Virginia (UVA) updated their policies in the following manner: “Effective August 14, 2020, the University revised its Policy on Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Other Forms of Interpersonal Violence (hereafter, the “Sexual Misconduct Policy”) and implemented two new sets of procedures for responding to reports and Formal Complaints under the Sexual Misconduct Policy - the Grievance Process for Investigating and Resolving Reports of Title IX Prohibited Conduct (“Grievance Process”), and the Procedures for Investigating and Resolving Reports of Sexual and Gender-Based Prohibited Conduct (“Procedures”)” They now have two sets of procedures for how to process sexual misconduct.
The College of William and Mary took a similar stance: “The university is committed to affording all parties due process in our procedure and to retaining industry best practices in policies that prohibits additional forms of sex and gender-based misconduct not covered by the new Title IX regulations. Our expectations for compliance with the policy extend to any program in which the university has control, including programs outside of the United States, such as study abroad.” They explicitly include study abroad, which the new Title IX guidelines exclude.
Clearly, schools will continue to pursue college sexual misconduct allegations or sexual assault allegations through disciplinary proceedings that follow their own school's guidelines. It's critical then, to not underestimate the potential impact of the proceedings.
How to Protect Yourself Against College Sexual Misconduct Allegations
There are several ways that you can protect yourself if you've been accused of college sexual misconduct. Some of them, listed below, might some obvious. Others might surprise you. Although this list is not exhaustive, it is a good place to start.
Don't communicate with your accuser
This is critical. You may want to reach out to the person who accused you. However, you should not do this under any circumstances. Any interaction between the two of you while the investigation is ongoing, could be used as evidence in the disciplinary hearing or proceeding. Also, having your friends communicate with this person or using their friends as a go-between is something to avoid. Don't reach out on social media, don't call, don't Snapchat or text. If they reach out to you, do keep a record of it, but do not respond to their communication.
Find and consult with a college sexual misconduct advisor as soon as possible
Often families wait until the conclusion of a hearing before they reach out to an attorney-advisor. This is a mistake. Consulting with a college sexual misconduct advisor early on will enable you to have the most vigorous possible defense. They will be able to help interpret for you the legalities of your school's specific process and procedures. An experienced college sexual misconduct advisor will be familiar with best practices and will have helped many students in the past.
Look over your school's Code of Conduct or Student Handbook
Each university has different regulations, and this means that it's essential to review and understand what the policies are at your specific institution. Looking over the pertinent documents will help you know your rights and responsibilities as a respondent. You'll also gain an understanding of what the timeline might look like and the possible consequences.
Don't discuss your situation with anyone at the school
You have the right not to answer questions about the allegations. If public safety or campus police ask you questions, respectfully decline to answer. It's also important not to discuss the allegations with your friends or with faculty. Turn to folks outside of the campus community, if you need to talk.
Document, document, document
Keep track of everything. Write down timelines, and interactions. Share this with an attorney-advisor. They'll be able to help you assess what can help and what can harm your defense.
Consequences of College Sexual Misconduct Allegations
The potential consequences of college sexual misconduct allegations can be severe. You might lose financial aid if you're suspended or expelled during the semester. An expulsion or suspension follows you on your permanent academic record, and this could impact graduate school admissions or future employment. Depending on the allegations, you could also face criminal charges outside of the school setting.
An Experienced Advisor For Virginia College Sexual Misconduct Allegations
An experienced attorney-advisor will be able to help you plan and prepare for your college sexual misconduct proceedings at your Virginia university or college. You want someone who's helped students before, who's fought for their rights. Joseph Lento has many years of experience fighting for the rights of his clients, who've faced code of conduct and Title IX cases. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 or contact us today to discuss your situation.
Virginia 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:
- Advanced Technology Institute
- Argosy University Washington D.C.
- Averett University
- Averett University Non Traditional Programs
- Aviation Institute of Maintenance Chesapeake
- Aviation Institute of Maintenance Manassas
- Bethel College
- Blue Ridge Community College
- Bluefield College
- Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing
- Bridgewater College
- Bryant & Stratton College Hampton
- Bryant and Stratton College Richmond
- Bryant and Stratton College Virginia Beach
- Central Virginia Community College
- Centura College Chesapeake
- Centura College Newport News
- Centura College Norfolk
- Centura College Richmond Main
- Centura College Richmond Westend
- Centura College Virginia Beach
- Chamberlain College of Nursing
- Christopher Newport University
- College of William and Mary
- Dabney S Lancaster Community College
- Danville Community College
- DeVry University Virginia
- Eastern Mennonite University
- Eastern Shore Community College
- ECPI University
- Emory and Henry College
- Everest College Arlington
- Everest College Chesapeake
- Everest College McLean
- Everest College Newport News
- Ferrum College
- Fortis College Norfolk
- Fortis College Richmond
- George Mason University
- Germanna Community College
- Hampden Sydney College
- Hampton University
- Hollins University
- ITT Technical Institute Chantilly
- ITT Technical Institute Norfolk
- ITT Technical Institute Richmond
- ITT Technical Institute Salem
- ITT Technical Institute Springfield
- J Sargeant Reynolds Community College
- James Madison University
- Jefferson College of Health Sciences
- John Tyler Community College
- Liberty University
- Longwood University
- Lord Fairfax Community College
- Lynchburg College
- Mary Baldwin College
- Marymount University
- Miller Motte Technical College Lynchburg
- Mountain Empire Community College
- National College Salem
- New River Community College
- Norfolk State University
- Northern Virginia Community College
- Old Dominion University
- Patrick Henry Community College
- Paul D Camp Community College
- Piedmont Virginia Community College
- Potomac College Herndon
- Radford University
- Randolph College
- Randolph Macon College
- Rappahannock Community College
- Regent University
- Richard Bland College of the College of William and Mary
- Roanoke College
- Saint Pauls College
- Sanford Brown College Tysons Corner
- Shenandoah University
- Skyline College Roanoke
- South University Richmond
- South University Virginia Beach
- Southeast Culinary & Hospitality College
- Southern Virginia University
- Southside Virginia Community College
- Southwest Virginia Community College
- Stratford University
- Sweet Briar College
- The Art Institute of Virginia Beach
- The Art Institute of Washington
- The Art Institute of Washington Northern Virginia
- The University of Virginia's College at Wise
- Thomas Nelson Community College
- Tidewater Community College
- University of Management and Technology (The)
- University of Mary Washington
- University of Phoenix Northern Virginia Campus
- University of Phoenix Richmond Campus
- University of Richmond
- University of Virginia Main Campus
- Virginia College
- Virginia Commonwealth University
- Virginia Highlands Community College
- Virginia Intermont College
- Virginia Military Institute
- Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
- Virginia State University
- Virginia Union University
- Virginia University of Lynchburg
- Virginia Wesleyan College
- Virginia Western Community College
- Washington and Lee University
- Westwood College Annandale
- Westwood College Arlington Ballston
- Wytheville Community College
It is critical to make certain the college sexual misconduct investigation at your Virginia 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 Virginia 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.