A sexual misconduct accusation can overwhelm you pretty quickly. Someone you know, trusted, maybe even loved, has charged you with a serious offense. Your university has begun digging into your personal life. You don't know if or when your friends are going to find out you're being investigated. You're right to be nervous, even scared.
Take a deep breath, though, and let it out. You can get through this.
Defending yourself won't be easy. Campus justice systems can be difficult to navigate. Worse, they're often weighted in favor of complainants (accusers), even if that means denying respondents (the accused) some important due process rights. The more you know about your situation, though, the better your odds of winning.
More importantly, you don't have to take on this fight all by yourself. Title IX attorney Joseph D Lento is here to help.
Title IX Cases
The very first thing you need to know is how sexual misconduct cases typically work.
All accusations at Long Island University are dealt with using guidelines laid out in a federal law known as Title IX. In simplest terms, Title IX prohibits all forms of sexual discrimination and harassment on college and university campuses. Here's a rough outline of what the law dictates.
- All Long Island University campuses have a designated Title IX Coordinator. This person receives all complaints and decides whether or not they warrant a formal investigation.
- If you're being investigated, you're entitled to notice of the charges against you. This notice will include the name of the Complainant as well as details about the allegation.
- You have other important rights as well. For instance, you have the right to be presumed “not responsible” (innocent) until proven “responsible” (guilty). You have the right to an advisor, who may be an attorney. You have the right to review any evidence against you and to submit evidence and witness lists to the case Investigator.
- The Investigator is appointed by the Coordinator. As part of their duties, the Investigator meets with both sides in the case. They also interview witnesses and collect any physical evidence.
- At LIU, investigations can take up to 90 days. At the end of this period, the Investigator writes a written report summarizing their findings. Both sides then have an additional ten days to review this report and suggest any revisions. The report is then forwarded to the Title IX Coordinator.
- Once they've received the Investigative Report, the Coordinator sets a time and date for a formal hearing and appoints a Hearing Officer to preside over the case.
- The hearing is an opportunity to present your case. You can submit evidence and call witnesses to testify on your behalf. Only the Hearing Officer may examine witnesses. However, you can—through your advisor—ask witnesses follow-up questions and cross-examine any witnesses against you. The Complainant has these same rights.
- Once the hearing is complete, the Hearing Officer decides the case based on a legal standard known as “preponderance of evidence.” Less strict than the standard you may be more used to, “beyond a reasonable doubt,” “preponderance of evidence” requires the Hearing Officer to find you responsible if they believe it is “more likely than not” that you violated policy.
- You have the right to appeal the Hearing Officer's findings under certain conditions. For instance, you may appeal if you discover new evidence that would impact the outcome. You may also appeal if you can demonstrate procedural mistakes were made during the investigation or hearing. Again, the Complainant has the same right to appeal if you should be found Not Responsible.
Finally, it's useful to know that since 2020 many schools in the US have instituted new policies to deal with sexual misconduct that is no longer covered under Title IX. Often, they deal with these so-called “Non-Title IX” cases using a completely separate set of processes and procedures. However, Long Island University has chosen to treat all cases the same. That is, whether the case technically involves a Title IX violation or not, it is treated using Title IX rules.
How Joseph D. Lento Can Help
If you've been accused of sexual misconduct, the stakes could not be higher. The minimum sanction in these cases is usually suspension. That could certainly interfere with your academic progress. The more likely sanction is dismissal. Obviously, dismissal means leaving LIU. It could also mean the end of your academic career. Long Island University's sexual misconduct policy notes that an expulsion comes with a transcript notation, reading,
“Expelled after a finding of responsibility for a code of conduct violation.”
A notation like that can make it difficult, if not impossible, to enroll in another school.
With everything at stake, you can't afford to try and handle a sexual misconduct allegation all on your own. Yes, you're smart. Yes, you're a college student. This situation is serious, though, and it requires a professional: someone who knows the law, someone who knows how to construct an air-tight defense strategy, someone with experience taking on school administration.
Joseph D. Lento is a fully-qualified, licensed defense attorney. He isn't just any defense attorney, though. He's a Title IX attorney who specializes in school sexual misconduct cases. Joseph D. Lento built his practice representing student clients. He's helped hundreds of students just like you defend themselves from charges both big and small. He's dealt with simple verbal harassment cases. He's dealt with rape cases. Joseph D. Lento knows the law. He also knows how universities operate and how they apply the law. He's committed to protecting your rights and to getting you the best possible resolution to your case.
If you or your child has been accused of sexual misconduct, don't wait to act. The school is already preparing its case. You should be too. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.