Ohio University is committed to providing a workplace, educational environment, and programs and activities that are free from sexual harassment and misconduct. To ensure the university community remains a safe and equitable place for everyone, Ohio University has implemented policies against sexual misconduct.
If you are an Ohio University student accused of sexual harassment, know that your school will take the allegation seriously. You will face formal investigative and adjudication procedures, which could lead to severe sanctions such as suspension or even expulsion from the university. If you are concerned about your sexual misconduct accusation at Ohio University, consider contacting a specialized student defense attorney-advisor for help.
Sexual Misconduct at Ohio University
Ohio University has two policies that deal with sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual violence, and related behaviors:
- 03.004: Sexual Harassment and Other Sexual Misconduct
- Sexual Harassment and Other Sexual Misconduct Grievance Process
Policy 03.004 lists prohibited actions and details procedures for dealing with suspected violations. Both the university Equity and Civil Rights Compliance (ECRC) office and Title IX office at Ohio University administer policy 03.004. Unlike some other colleges and universities, Ohio University does not have a separate policy for Title IX offenses. Policy 03.004 covers all Title IX violations and behaviors that fall outside the scope of Title IX.
What Counts as a Sexual Misconduct Violation at Ohio University?
- Sexual harassment under Title IX
- Sexual harassment by Quid Pro Quo
- Sexual assault
- Forcible sex offenses
- Forcible sodomy
- Sexual assault with an object
- Forcible fondling
- Statutory rape
- Dating violence
- Domestic violence
- Sexual harassment under university policy
- Sexual exploitation
This list includes behaviors prohibited both by federal Title IX rules and by Ohio University policy. For example, the definition of sexual harassment under university policy is more expansive than the definition under Title IX.
How Does Ohio University Deal With Allegations of Sexual Misconduct?
The process of handling suspected violations of Ohio University's sexual harassment policy starts when someone reports sexual harassment, other sexual misconduct, or retaliation to the university's Title IX Coordinator. A report is not a formal complaint, and the university does not have to act on it. The Title IX Coordinator may, however, offer supportive measures and let the person filing the report know their options for submitting a formal complaint.
After the reporting phase, the process moves through four stages: formal complaint, investigation, hearing, and appeals.
When someone suspects a sexual misconduct violation, they may make a formal complaint. Only the complainant (the person who believes they were a victim of sexual harassment) may file a formal complaint, but the Title IX Coordinator can sign a formal complaint submitted by someone else. After the Title IX Coordinator receives a formal complaint, they must notify the respondent (the person being accused of sexual misconduct) and launch an investigation.
Either the Title IX Coordinator or their designee conducts the investigation. The investigators may speak with the complainant, respondent, and potential witnesses to gather information. Typically, investigations last for 40 days, however, they may last longer depending on the circumstances. Before submitting the investigative report to a hearing officer, the investigators allow the complainant and respondent to review it. Both parties may then submit written responses and directly related evidence.
After the investigation, the grievance process moves to a hearing. The parties receive notice of the hearing ten days in advance. Before the hearing, each party may write an impact statement with sanctioning requests. The hearing panel receives these statements if the respondent is determined to be in violation of policy 03.004. During the hearing, both the complainant and respondent have the chance to respond to the investigative report, answer questions from the hearing panel, and pose questions to witnesses. Only the hearing panel may call witnesses, however.
Once the hearing is over, the hearing panel deliberates and decides responsibility for a violation by majority vote, using the preponderance of the evidence standard. If the panel determines the respondent is responsible for a violation, it will also recommend sanctions. Throughout the hearing and the grievance process, both complainants and respondents may have advisors present with them, and advisors may speak on their behalf at the hearing.
Both parties have five days to submit a written request for appeal to the Title IX Coordinator. Both parties also have the opportunity to submit a rebuttal if the other party appeals. An appeal officer reviews the appeal and makes the final decision.
Potential Consequences for Sexual Misconduct at Ohio University
Students found responsible for violating Ohio University's sexual harassment, and other sexual misconduct policy may face one or more of the following sanctions:
- Disciplinary probation
- Disciplinary suspension
- Disciplinary expulsion
Probation, suspension, and expulsion may apply to individual students or groups and organizations.
How Can a Student Defense Attorney-Advisor Help?
If you are a student accused of sexual misconduct at Ohio University, you may feel overwhelmed by the formal grievance procedure. It may also be your first time dealing with university disciplinary processes, and you're unsure how to conduct yourself or which steps to take. An advisor trained in dealing with student misconduct at colleges and universities knows how to navigate the procedures and can help you at each step. Your advisor can coach you on what to say, help you write your written responses, and even pose questions to witnesses on your behalf at the hearing. With a student defense advisor by your side, you can better protect your rights and craft a stronger defense.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped hundreds of college students nationwide defend themselves in sexual misconduct matters. Contact the Lento Law Firm by calling 888-535-3686 to help protect your future.