Dealing With Sexual Misconduct Charges at the University of Maine

There are no minor allegations of sexual misconduct. If your college or university has leveled a charge at you, you must take it seriously. What does taking it seriously mean? Consider how you'd react if you were facing criminal charges—a police investigation and a trial. You'd begin preparing your defense immediately. You'd find out everything you can about the charges and what the law actually says. You'd find out about the investigative process and what a trial looks like. You'd begin gathering evidence and contacting witnesses.

Most important of all, you'd contact a qualified attorney to help you through the process. You wouldn't even consider going into court alone, trying to develop a defense strategy yourself, learning how legal procedures in these cases work, and figuring out what sorts of questions to ask witnesses.

You need an attorney to deal with a campus sexual misconduct case too, and for the same reasons. It's no exaggeration to say your entire future is at stake. If you're found responsible, the minimum penalty will almost certainly be suspension, and more likely, you'll be facing expulsion. And don't think the case will be simple just because it's happening on campus. Investigations and hearings are governed by federal law. Procedures are complex and difficult to navigate, and if you don't know what you're doing, you could easily make the situation far worse than it is.

If you've been accused, or if you think you might be accused, your very first move should be to contact a Title IX attorney, someone to guide you through the process from start to finish.

Title IX and Sexual Misconduct

All cases at the University of Maine are handled using rules and procedures set forth in Title IX. Understanding the charges against you, then, begins with learning all you can about this federal law. Title IX was passed more than fifty years ago, in 1972. It requires all federally-funded schools to do everything in their power to eradicate sexual discrimination and harassment on campus.

In addition to this prohibition, the law includes a rigid set of guidelines for how schools must go about investigating and adjudicating allegations. Thus, the University of Maine has its own policy on sexual misconduct, but this policy is almost entirely dictated by Title IX. Here are some highlights of what the law has to say.

  • All schools, including UME, must have a Title IX Coordinator. This official sets policy for the school and makes decisions about whether or not to pursue a particular allegation.
  • If you're being investigated for a Title IX offense, you are entitled to a number of due process rights. For instance, the school must serve you with a Notice of the Charges. This notice must include the name of the Complainant and all significant details of the allegation. Additionally, you have the right to
    • An advisor, who may be an attorney
    • Equal treatment to the Complainant in all matters
    • Review all evidence in the case
    • Advanced notification of all meetings and hearings
    • Investigators and decision-makers who are free of bias
    • A presumption of Not Responsible (innocent) until proven responsible
  • Once you've been issued a Notice of the Charges, the Coordinator appoints an Investigator to gather facts in the case.
  • Investigations at UME can last up to 120 days. During this period, the Investigator meets separately with both sides. In addition, they interview witnesses and collect any physical evidence.
  • At the conclusion of the investigation, the Investigator submits an unbiased report detailing what they have discovered. Both sides have ten days to review this document and suggest any necessary revisions before it is forwarded to the Title IX Coordinator.
  • As soon as they receive the Investigative Report, the Coordinator sets a time and date for a live hearing and chooses a single Decision Maker to preside over this hearing.
  • Both sides may present their full cases at the hearing. This means you can make arguments, offer evidence, and call witnesses. Title IX also says you may cross-examine one another and any other witnesses against you. However, only advisors may conduct this cross-examination.
  • At the conclusion of the hearing, the Decision Maker deliberates as to your level of responsibility in the case. Their decision must be based on a legal standard known as “Preponderance of Evidence.” In simple terms, this standard requires them to find you Responsible if they believe it is “more likely than not” that you committed an offense.
  • You have the right to an official Notice of the Outcome of the hearing, and you further have the right to appeal this outcome. However, you must file this appeal within five days, and grounds for appeal are limited to
    • The discovery of new evidence that has a direct bearing on the case outcome
    • Procedural errors that may have affected the outcome
    • Bias on the part of a Title IX official

You should know that the Complainant has a right to appeal the outcome as well, should you be found Not Responsible.

Non-Title IX Cases?

Not every accusation of sexual misconduct at every school is subject to a Title IX investigation. In 2020, the federal government issued brand new guidelines, known as the “Final Rule,” which placed restrictions on how the law is implemented. As part of these new guidelines, for instance, off-campus incidents are no longer covered under the law.

Many schools have elected to handle these so-called “Non-Title IX cases” using their own student conduct procedures. Often, these procedures are significantly different from Title IX procedures, and in a number of cases, students aren't provided with the same due process rights that they might get in a Title IX case.

The good news is the University of Maine has chosen to deal with all sexual misconduct cases using Title IX. The school doesn't investigate non-Title IX cases at all. However, as the school's policy clearly notes, UME does turn these cases over to law enforcement as necessary.

How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?

Joseph D. Lento is a fully-licensed, fully-qualified defense attorney. He's not just a defense attorney, though. Joseph D. Lento is what's known as a Title IX attorney. What does that mean? It means Joseph D. Lento built his career defending students just like you from sexual misconduct charges. He has studied the law and knows it inside and out. It means Joseph D. Lento knows how schools operate. He knows the tactics they often use, and he knows how to counter those tactics. Most importantly, though, it means Joseph D. Lento is on your side. He understands what you're going through, and he'll do everything he can to make sure you're treated fairly and that you get the best possible resolution to your case.

If you or your child has been accused of sexual misconduct, don't wait to see what the school or the other side will do. Begin building your case now. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.

Contact Us Today!

If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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