Dealing With Sexual Misconduct Charges at West Chester University

College is supposed to be one of the most rewarding times in your life, and for most of us, it is. Still, things can and do go wrong. The fact is 18- and 19-year-olds make mistakes, lots of mistakes. In fact, the goal isn't so much to get through these years without making a mistake, but rather to avoid making one that causes irreparable damage.

A sexual misconduct allegation is among the most serious charges a university student can face. If you don't deal with it properly, it can easily send your life entirely off the rails.

Take the time now, then, before you've been accused, to learn all you can about how to protect yourself. Know what constitutes a violation at West Chester University. Investigate your school's justice processes. Get familiar with the kinds of penalties you might face. No one wants to imagine the worst-case scenario, but as the old saying goes, forewarned is forearmed.

Title IX

For many years, schools used the federal government's Title IX as the means of investigating and adjudicating virtually all sexual misconduct allegations. Even now, most cases are dealt with using Title IX. That means understanding sexual misconduct cases means understanding Title IX.

Title IX was passed in 1972 with the aim of eliminating sexual discrimination in US educational programs. Over the years, “sexual discrimination” in this context has come to include a wide range of misbehavior, from simple verbal harassment to far more serious crimes like sexual assault and rape.

Title IX can be confusing, and it isn't always as fair to respondents as it might be. Even so, it does provide procedural guidelines that help to safeguard many due process rights for the accused.

  • All accusations must originate with the Title IX Coordinator's office. Only a complainant or the Coordinator may sign an official complaint.
  • Once a complaint has been made, the Coordinator must provide written notice to the respondent. As part of this notice, the respondent must be told the name of the complainant and the details of the alleged incident. In addition, this notice should apprise the respondent of their right to be treated as “not-responsible” until proven responsible and their right to choose an advisor who may be an attorney.
  • Next, the Coordinator appoints an Investigator to gather the facts of the case. This Investigator meets with both parties to get their sides of the story. In addition, they interview witnesses and collect any physical evidence.
  • At the conclusion of the investigation, the Investigator creates a written report summarizing their findings. Both sides have the opportunity to view this report and suggest any revisions. The report is then forwarded on to the Title IX Coordinator.
  • Once the Coordinator receives the investigative report, they initiate hearing procedures, set a date, and choose a Decision-Maker.
  • At the hearing, both sides have the opportunity to present evidence. In addition, they may—through their advisors—ask questions of one another and of any witnesses.
  • The Decision-Maker then deliberates and, using the “preponderance of evidence” standard, renders a decision as to responsibility and sanctions. Somewhat less strict than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” “preponderance of evidence” requires that the Decision-Maker believe it is “more likely than not” that the respondent committed a violation.
  • Finally, both sides are entitled to appeal the Decision-Maker's findings. However, they have a limited time frame in which to do this, and they may only appeal under certain conditions, including:
  • Discovery of new evidence
  • Bias on the part of Title IX officials
  • Procedural mistakes

Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct

Again, for several years Title IX was essentially the only way schools dealt with Title IX cases. However, in 2020 the Trump administration implemented new guidelines for Title IX. These narrowed the definitions of “discrimination” and “harassment” and limited schools' jurisdictional authority. In response, many schools, including West Chester University, created alternative procedures for dealing with so-called “non-Title IX sexual misconduct,” or misconduct that no longer fit the new, more narrow constraints of Title IX.

Unfortunately, in these alternative cases, respondents aren't always afforded the same rights as they are under Title IX.

  • Cases are handled by the school's Director for Equity and Compliance.
  • Investigations proceed in basically the same manner as Title IX investigations. A Fact Finder is appointed, who meets with both sides, interviews witnesses, and collects physical evidence.
  • The Fact Finder renders an opinion on the case using the “preponderance of evidence” standard. Respondents are not allowed to raise objections about this opinion.
  • The case may be heard by the school's Conduct Board. As at Title IX hearings, respondents are entitled to offer evidence and question witnesses. However, advisors may not speak directly to the Board, and all questions must be submitted to Board members, who decide whether to ask them.
  • Further, respondents are not necessarily entitled to a formal hearing. Instead, the Director for Equity and Compliance may appoint a single Hearing Officer to meet with both sides and, on his own, determine the respondent's level of responsibility.
  • Finally, as with Title IX cases, both sides have the right to appeal the findings, but only under limited conditions.

Joseph D. Lento, Sexual Misconduct Attorney

Whichever system is used to investigate the allegation against you, the ultimate outcome can be serious. While West Chester University lists a number of possible sanctions for sexual misconduct allegations, the reality is that the minimum penalty is usually suspension. Far more often, the school expels students who are found responsible. An expulsion can make it difficult to enroll elsewhere or even to find a good job.

The risks are high, and the procedures can be complicated. As that might suggest, the most important thing to know about sexual misconduct is that it's never a good idea to try to defend yourself alone.

Joseph D. Lento is an attorney who specializes in Title IX and non-Title IX sexual misconduct cases across the United States. In fact, he built his career representing students just like you against charges ranging from harassment to stalking to rape. Joseph D. Lento knows the law, but he also knows how colleges and universities operate. He understands the academic culture and what kinds of biases faculty and administrators often bring to judicial processes. Whether you're looking to prove your innocence or to negotiate a fair resolution, Joseph D. Lento will protect your rights and get you the outcome you deserve.

If you or your child has been accused of sexual misconduct, don't wait to act. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento and 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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