College is supposed to be the time of your life. You never expect to be accused of sexual misconduct or violating Title IX, and if you are, it can feel like the world is crashing down around you. Once past the initial emotions, you must remain mindful that everything is at stake because the University of California, Riverside, as with all schools, takes sexual misconduct allegations seriously. Although you may not know who to turn to or what your options are, you must also recognize that all is not lost. It is important that the moment you learn of these accusations, you reach out to a qualified attorney-advisor. Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and his team at the Lento Law Firm fight day in and day out for college students across the United States accused of sexual misconduct. Attorney Lento and his team work diligently to mitigate any negative consequences that may occur from a sexual misconduct allegation and they fight for a fair process and the best possible outcome. You do not have to defend yourself alone; the Lento Law can help.
What is Title IX?
Title IX is a federal regulation that mandates specific standards that all federally funded colleges and universities must uphold when managing sexual discrimination and sexual violence on their campus. These standards include:
- Clear and immediate procedures for sexual misconduct allegations
- Designated personnel to handle instances of sexual violence
- In Title IX hearings, the standard of evidence should be “more likely than not” or “preponderance of evidence”
- Both parties involved should have access to the same procedures – advisors, appeals, and presentation of the evidence
- Retaliation protection
At the University of California – Riverside, the staff is committed to creating and maintaining a community where all individuals can work and learn in an environment free of sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and retaliation are prohibited – as the federal regulation explained above.
What Happens After an Allegation of Sexual Misconduct at UC Riverside?
When a complainant informs the Title IX Officer of alleged sexual misconduct or other Title IX violations, the Title IX Officer will determine whether a Formal Investigation is appropriate. If they decide it is, they will notify the complainant and the respondent of the allegations and a summary of the resolution process, including the hearing time and date.
The UC Riverside Title IX Office usually completes its investigation between 60 and 90 days from the date of the notice. Both parties will be given equal opportunity to present witnesses and relevant evidence, as well as review the evidence of the other side. During this preliminary stage, the investigator can propose sanctions and provide notice of the proposed sanctions to the complainant and respondent within 15 business days. Both parties have the right to contest this preliminary decision but must do so within 20 days of receiving notice. If either party contests the determination, it will move to a hearing.
During the hearing, the hearing officer will inform the parties of a pre-hearing meeting where they will discuss the evidence the party provided to help identify and fix issues the hearing will review. This pre-hearing meeting helps the hearing officer determine the scope of the hearing – what evidence should be excluded, what procedural issues they will review, and (or) other determinations to ensure a productive and fair hearing. Additionally, both parties have the right to present relevant evidence, witnesses, and cross-examine those of the other party during the hearing process.
In the end, the hearing officer will determine, beyond a preponderance of the evidence, if the respondent did, in fact, commit sexual misconduct or conduct that falls within the purview of Title IX. They will also determine which sanctions should be imposed. This determination will be delivered to both parties within 15 days of the end of the hearing. Possible sanctions include:
- Dismissal from the university
- Suspension from the university
- Exclusion from certain areas on campus
- Loss of privileges
- Exclusion from campus activities
Appealing a Sexual Misconduct or Title IX Violation Decision at UC Riverside
No matter the sanction imposed, the respondent always has the right to appeal the decision of the hearing officer, but only if one of the following grounds applies:
- There was a procedural error that materially affected the outcome of the case
- Finding that there was a policy violation is inappropriate considering the evidence the hearing officer had
- The sanctions were unequal to the hearing officer's findings
If you believe that one of these grounds applies, you have ten business days after notice of the hearing officer's determination was given. The appeal officer will decide whether you have proven that grounds for the appeal exists and review the evidence presented at the hearing, the investigation file, and the appeal statements from both parties to determine if an appeal is appropriate.
The appeals officer has the authority to uphold the findings and sanctions, overturn them, modify them, or, if you've alleged a material procedural error, send the case back to the hearing officer for another fact-finding mission. You will be notified of their decision within ten days of turning in your appeal. Remember, this decision is final and cannot be appealed further.
How an Attorney-Advisor Can Help
If you've been accused of sexual misconduct or another Title IX violation at the University of California, Riverside, there can be long-lasting consequences. For students who've been falsely accused and found not responsible, the reputational harm can be hard to recover from. Students and professors may form biases long before you meet them, disrupting your life on campus unnecessarily. Even while allegations are being investigated, interim actions taken by the University can disrupt your current school schedule by removing you from labs or classes where you would bump into the victim. For students found responsible, however, the consequences can last a lifetime. If you are suspended or expelled, your transcripts and records will be tainted for years to come.
Working with an experienced attorney advisor will ensure the best possible outcome for your situation both while the disciplinary process plays out and beyond. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm will create a strategic defense to the allegations, will mitigate negative consequences that can occur when accused, and will fight for a fair process and the best possible outcome. Call the Lento Law Firm 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.