Defending Yourself From Sexual Misconduct Allegations at Saint Louis University

If you are a student facing a sexual misconduct charge, the very first thing you need to know is that you can't handle this situation by yourself. For one thing, it's no easy matter to defend yourself from this sort of accusation. Campus judicial processes are notoriously difficult to navigate and almost always plagued by red tape. More importantly, there's simply too much on the line to risk handling your case alone. If you should lose your case, a suspension is likely the minimum penalty. More probably, your school with expel you. In short, you're going to need the very best help you can find.

Luckily, you're allowed to choose an advisor to help you prepare your case. Even better, that advisor can be an attorney. So, find out all you can about how your school handles sexual misconduct. You can start that process here. Then make sure you find a Title IX attorney, someone who knows the law and who has experience protecting students' rights.

Title IX and Sexual Misconduct

Saint Louis University handles most accusations of misconduct using Title IX, a federal law that prohibits sexual discrimination in federally funded education programs. Beyond the law's general restrictions against all forms of discrimination and harassment, it also includes a lengthy set of guidelines for how schools should prosecute and adjudicate all allegations. Those rules run to some 550 pages—one good reason why you might need a lawyer on your side if you've been accused. Here are the highlights, though, drawn from SLU's Title IX policy.

  • You school must have a designated Title IX Coordinator. This person decides whether or not an accusation warrants an official investigation.
  • If the Coordinator decides to open an investigation, they must provide you with written notice. That notice should include the name of the Complainant (accuser) and details of the allegation, information that can help you begin preparing your case.
  • Notice should also apprise you of your rights, including
    • The right to be presumed “Not Responsible” (innocent)
    • The right to an advisor, who may be an attorney
    • The right to review all evidence
    • The right to submit evidence and suggest witnesses
    • The right to advance notice of all meetings and hearings
  • The Coordinator appoints an Investigator to look into the matter. This Investigator meets separately with both sides in the case. They also collect any physical evidence and interview any relevant witnesses.
  • Once the investigation is complete, the Investigator writes a summary of their findings. Both sides in the case have ten days to review this document and suggest any revisions before it is forwarded back to the Coordinator.
  • After receiving the Investigative Report, the Coordinator sets a time and date for a live hearing and appoints three Decision Makers to oversee the proceedings.
  • At the hearing, both sides have the right to present their version of events. This means submitting evidence and calling witnesses. In addition, both sides may cross-examine one another and any witnesses against them. Advisors conduct all questioning. If you do not have an advisor, the school will appoint one for you, though this person will not be an attorney.
  • After the hearing, the Decision Makers determine your level of responsibility based on a legal principle known as “Preponderance of Evidence.” According to this standard, they must find your responsible if they are more than fifty percent convinced you committed a violation. The outcome is subject to majority vote.
  • Finally both sides have the right to appeal the Decision Makers' findings. Appeals must be in writing and must be filed within three days of notification of the hearing outcome. In addition, appeals may only be filed for
    • New evidence in the case
    • Procedural irregularities
    • Bias on the part of a Title IX official

As these rules suggest, you have a number of important rights under the law. However, it isn't always easy to know how to use these rights effectively. This is another reason why it makes sense to hire a Title IX attorney to help you prepare you defense.

Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct Cases at Saint Louis University

Not every case at Saint Louis University is a Title IX case. The reason for this has to do with changes in the law, which were enacted in 2020. Among these changes, the government limited schools' jurisdictional authority and narrowed the definitions of “discrimination” and “harassment.” Like many other colleges and universities, Saint Louis University created new school policies specifically designed to handle incidents that no longer fit under Title IX, especially cases involving off-campus incidents.

Because these so-called “non-Title IX cases” aren't subject to federal law, SLU is not required to follow the same processes or afford Respondents the same due process rights.

In fact, SLU's non-Title IX procedures are significantly different than its Title IX procedures. One of the key differences is that the school doesn't allow you an opportunity to defend yourself at an open hearing. Instead, an investigator collects evidence and interviews witnesses and has the sole authority to pass judgment and assign sanctions in the case.

How Can Joseph D. Lento Help

Whatever kind of sexual misconduct charges you may be facing, Title IX or non-Title IX, the rules and procedures are complex. Both processes afford you important rights, but you have to know how to claim those rights and how to use them to your benefit. An attorney can help you make sense of the process and give you the best possible chance of winning your case. You don't want just any attorney though. You want one with expertise on Title IX and sexual misconduct cases.

Joseph D. Lento is what's known as a Title IX attorney. That means he specializes in handling campus sexual misconduct cases. Over the years, Joseph D. Lento has handled hundreds of cases for students just like you, making sure they're treated fairly and that they get the justice they deserve. He knows the law. He knows how universities operate. Let him put this knowledge to work for you.

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.

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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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