If you came to this page because your college or university has charged you with sexual misconduct, you need answers now, not later. You probably want to know what happens during an investigation. You might be asking whether or not you'll get a chance to defend yourself. What are the sanctions you might face if you're found “Responsible” (guilty)?
You came to the right place. You'll find answers to most of those questions here.
Before you read any further, though, there's something else you need to know: you can't handle this situation by yourself. You've been charged with a serious offense. Your school can't send you to jail. However, it can expel you. That's the most likely outcome in these cases. Often, expulsion includes a transcript notation about the exact nature of your offense. That can prevent you from transferring anywhere else. In essence, your academic career could be at an end. Defending yourself won't be easy, and it requires navigating a difficult judicial process set up by the federal government. In short, you need professional help.
So, take the time to read through all the information here. Set your mind at ease about what you can expect over the next weeks and months. Then, contact a Title IX attorney, someone with experience handling campus sexual misconduct cases, someone who can help you prepare your case, make sure you're treated fairly, and get you the best possible resolution.
Title IX and Sexual Misconduct
Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) handles most of its sexual misconduct cases using guidelines set forward in Title IX. Title IX is a federal law originally passed in 1972. It prohibits all forms of sexual discrimination and harassment at federally-funded education programs, including colleges and universities. Its guidelines specify exactly how schools must investigate and adjudicate allegations.
You can read the full guidelines at the government's Title IX website, and you can find a description of how CCSU implements those guidelines in the school's own Sexual Misconduct Policy. For now, though, here's what you need to know.
- CCSU has a designated Title IX Coordinator who sets policy at the school. Anyone at the school may report you for misconduct, but only a Complainant (alleged victim) or the Coordinator may sign a formal complaint against you.
- If you are under investigation, you are entitled to Notice of the Charges. That notice must include the name of the Complainant and details about the allegation.
- Title IX entitles you to a number of other important rights as well, including
- The right to be presumed “Not Responsible” (innocent)
- The right to be treated equally to the Complainant in all matters
- The right to an advisor, who may be an attorney
- The right to review all evidence in the case
- The right to advanced notice of any and all meetings or proceedings
- The right to Investigators and Decision-Makers who are free of bias
- Once you've been provided with notice, the Coordinator appoints an Investigator to the case.
- The Investigator usually begins by meeting separately with both sides in the case. In addition, they collect any physical evidence and interview all potential witnesses.
- At the conclusion of their investigation, the Investigator must complete an unbiased report summarizing their findings. Both sides have ten days in which to review this document and suggest revisions.
- The final draft of the Investigative Report is sent to the Coordinator, who sets a time and date for a live hearing and appoints three Decision-Makers to oversee the proceedings.
- At the hearing, both sides present their cases. You may offer arguments, present evidence, and call witnesses to testify. You may also cross-examine one another and any witnesses against you. However, only advisors may conduct cross-examination.
- At the conclusion of the hearing, the Decision-Makers determine your level of responsibility. To make this decision, they employ a legal standard known as “Preponderance of Evidence.” Far less strict than “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt,” “Preponderance of Evidence” requires they find you “Responsible” if they believe it is “more likely than not” that you committed an offense.
- You may appeal the hearing decision. However, you have just five business days from the end of the hearing to do so. In addition, grounds for appeal are strictly limited:
- Procedural irregularity
- New evidence that has a bearing on the outcome
- Conflict of interest on the part of a Title IX official
- Sanction does not fit the offense
- In addition, you should know that the Complainant also has the right to appeal should you be found Not Responsible.
Non-Title IX Cases
CCSU handles most of its sexual misconduct cases through Title IX, but not all of them. Beginning in 2020, Title IX no longer applies to off-campus incidents. Many schools, including CCSU, responded to this change by instituting their own school policies to handle these so-called “Non-Title IX” allegations.
It's important to note that, because these cases aren't subject to federal law, schools are free to use any procedures they choose for investigations. Likewise, they are under no obligation to provide respondents with any particular due process rights.
CCSU's Non-Title IX procedures are roughly equivalent to its Title IX procedures. There are differences, however. Perhaps the most important of these is that advisors are not allowed to participate directly in meetings or proceedings. This means you are solely responsible for making your own arguments at hearings and for examining and cross-examining all witnesses.
How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?
Whether you're facing Title IX or non-Title IX charges, you're facing an uphill battle. Rules and procedures can be complex. The government's guidelines, for instance, run to some 550 pages, and that doesn't include memorandums and judicial decisions regarding the law. Your school is supposed to be objective in considering your case, but it also has the burden of proving your guilt. That means it's not on your side. The school will likely retain counsel. So will the Complainant. In the face of all that, you need the very best legal help you can find.
Joseph D. Lento built his career defending students just like you from sexual misconduct charges. Joseph D. Lento knows the law. He's studied the Title IX statute and is comfortable working under both Title IX and non-Title IX procedures. In addition, Joseph D. Lento knows how schools operate. He knows the tactics they use, and he has experience fighting those tactics. Most importantly, though, Joseph D. Lento is on your side. He understands what you're going through, and he's passionate about your defense.
If you or your child has been accused of sexual misconduct, don't wait to act. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.