Being able to defend yourself against an allegation is a key principle in American law. We often think of this as habeas corpus, a Latin phrase that, translated, means “you shall have the body.”
What it means in American law is that a person who has been charged with a crime has a right to be told what they have been charged with so that they can begin to formulate a defense. We think of this generally as our due process rights.
All Americans are raised believing that, if they should ever be accused of a crime, they'll at least be told what they are accused of and they will have an opportunity to say that they didn't do it. That's why it's such a surprise to most people when they learn that this sort of due process is not always afforded to Americans while they are attending college.
An Injustice in Louisiana
An unnamed Louisiana State University (LSU) football player who was suspended after being accused of violating Title IX, recently filed a lawsuit against the University. He calls his suspension an “unjust and discriminatory decision... following a biased, flawed, confusing and unlawful process."
The player was suspended for a year after the school found him responsible for violating Title IX. According to the player's lawsuit, he met a female student at a bar near campus. At some point, he asked the female student if she wanted to have sex and she agreed. Afterward, he accompanied her to her dorm. It is not clear what, if any, violation of Title IX occurred.
The player's attorneys say that the school did not have a hearing, listen to witnesses, or allow the player to present evidence before determining that the player had violated Title IX and should be suspended. According to the complaint filed by the player's lawyers, the school twice communicated with the alleged victim and her family before even notifying the player. When the player was finally notified, no details about the alleged violation were given.
The player and his lawyers say the school did not allow the player an opportunity to defend himself by sharing his recollection of the events that occurred, or by providing witnesses or evidence that would help tell his side of the story before deciding to suspend him. They say that the mere act of being accused is stigmatizing and that the player should have been given more information about the accusations and an opportunity to defend himself before the punishment was issued.
College Students Deserve American Rights, Too
Every American has a right to know what they have been accused of and a right to defend themselves against those allegations. These rights don't end where college campuses begin. Even just being accused of sexual assault or harassment is stigmatizing and can follow a student for the rest of his or her life. Anyone accused of a Title IX offense should have the right to know and address allegations that could negatively alter the rest of their life. That's not a right that we take away when people enroll in college and give back after they graduate.
If you have been accused of a Title IX offense, you need a lawyer who understands the issues involved and knows how to fight for you to have the same rights as other Americans. Call our office today, at 888-535-3686. Let us help you put your life back together.