If your college or university has charged you with sexual misconduct, the very first thing you need to know is that you can't handle the situation by yourself. Baylor University’s misconduct policy is fifty-three single-spaced pages long. It's a tangled web of state and federal statutes from the Clery Act to FERPA and deals with everything from the definition of “consent” to how many days an investigation can last.
Luckily, you don't have to handle this situation by yourself. Baylor's policy also points out that you have the right to choose an advisor to help you through the case and that this advisor can be an attorney.
So, read on, and learn all you can about sexual misconduct at your school. Start writing out your side of the story. Collect evidence and track down witnesses with professional help. Make sure you're mentally prepared for what you're about to face. And most importantly, have a qualified, experienced attorney in your corner from the start to help you make sense of it all.
Someone may already have mentioned Title IX to you. If not, they will. That's because most sexual misconduct cases are dealt with using this federal law. In fact, Baylor University uses Title IX guidelines for investigating and adjudicating all allegations, whether they are covered under Title IX or not.
The US Congress passed Title IX in 1972, with the goal of eliminating sexual discrimination in all federally funded educational programs. The law was sorely needed in the early 70s: college campuses could often be openly hostile places for women. And in the years since, Title IX has done a great to help usher in equal rights.
However, Title IX today is not what it was fifty years ago. Even the definition of “discrimination” has changed. While most of us understand that word to mean “unequal treatment,” under Title IX it now also refers to harassment and all forms of sexual violence. As a result of this change, Title IX isn't about holding schools accountable anymore. Instead, it's about holding students accountable. That means you.
Title IX Procedures
What do Title IX guidelines actually say? Basically, they lay out all the procedural rules that govern how a school like Baylor can investigate its students. Most of the process is mandated; however, your school does have some control over specific elements of a case.
- First, all accusations of sexual misconduct must go through the Title IX Coordinator's office. Only a complainant or the Coordinator themselves may sign an official complaint initiating an investigation.
- Once a complaint has been signed, the Coordinator is obligated to inform you about it. That information must include the name of the complainant and the details of the allegation. In addition, you should be notified that you have the right to be presumed “not responsible” (not guilty) and that you have the right to an advisor, who may be an attorney.
- The Coordinator appoints an Investigator. This person meets with both sides in the case, collects any physical evidence, and interviews witnesses.
- An investigation at Baylor can last up to ninety days. Once it is complete, the Investigator writes a report summarizing their findings. Both sides then have ten days to review this document and suggest any revisions. It is then forwarded to the Title IX Coordinator.
- Once the Coordinator has the investigative report, they set a date for a live hearing and appoint a Hearing Officer. At Baylor, this single individual presides over the hearing and makes the final determination of responsibility in the case.
- At the hearing, you have the opportunity to present evidence and call witnesses. In addition, you may question the complainant and any witnesses against you. Only advisors may ask questions. Beyond asking questions, though, advisors have only an advisory role in the proceedings. They may not address the Hearing Officer or make objections or arguments on their student's behalf.
- Once all evidence has been presented, the Hearing Officer then decides the case using the standard, “preponderance of evidence.” Far less strict than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” “preponderance of evidence” means the Officer will find you responsible if they believe it is “more likely than not” that you committed a violation.
- Finally, both sides are entitled to file an appeal of the Officer's findings to an appointed Appeals Officer. Appeals must be submitted within seven days of the conclusion of the hearing. In addition, only certain aspects of the case are eligible for review:
- New evidence
- Procedural irregularities
- Official bias
- Arbitrary or capricious decisions
The most recent Title IX guidelines were passed in 2020. Among other changes, they narrowed the definitions of “discrimination” and “harassment” and limited schools' jurisdictional authority. In response, many schools, including Baylor, instituted new policies designed to address sexual misconduct that Title IX no longer covered. These cases are generally referred to as “non-Title IX cases,” and some schools have adopted separate procedures for dealing with them. However, at Baylor, all accusations of sexual misconduct are treated the same way under the procedures outlined by Title IX.
Joseph D. Lento, Sexual Misconduct Attorney
Sexual misconduct cases can be confusing and difficult to navigate. Yet, your entire future is on the line. Typically, the minimum sanction in such cases is suspension. The far more common sanction is expulsion. If you should be found responsible and expelled, your transcript and disciplinary record from Baylor will carry a notation as to the nature of your offense. That will likely prevent you from enrolling anywhere else. Even a "lesser" sanction, such as suspension, will close many doors, and will most certainly interfere with internships, job applications, and most other opportunities.
You need help. Attorney Joseph D. Lento can give you that help.
Joseph D. Lento is a highly qualified attorney who has helped students at Baylor University and across the nation overcome the challenges associated with Title IX allegations. Attorney Lento specializes in school misconduct cases across the United States. He is expert in Title IX law. He also has years of experience dealing with faculty and administrators. He's defended hundreds of clients, just like you, from all types of Title IX and non-Title IX sexual misconduct allegations. He knows the landscape; he knows the players. Whatever your particular situation, attorney Joseph D. Lento and his expert team at the Lento Law Firm can help you get the very best possible resolution to your case.
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.