Defense for Students Accused of Sexual Misconduct at UNC-Chapel Hill

The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) is committed to providing a safe, diverse, and equitable environment to all members of the University community. To that end, the university has strict policies in place to address sexual misconduct and sexual harassment.

As UNC-Chapel Hill considers sexual misconduct a grave matter, it will not hesitate to investigate reports of sexual misconduct or impose sanctions on students found responsible for such behavior. If you have been accused of sexual misconduct at UNC-Chapel Hill, the future of your education could be at risk. Consider contacting a specialized student defense attorney-advisor to explore your options.

Sexual Misconduct Policies at UNC-Chapel Hill

Like many colleges and universities in the US, UNC-Chapel Hill has two policies covering sexual misconduct:

  1. The Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment and Related Misconduct(PPDHRM): UNC-Chapel Hill's umbrella policy “prohibits discrimination and harassment based on any protected status, as well as sexual and gender-based harassment, sexual violence, interpersonal violence, and stalking.”
  2. Policy on Prohibited Sexual Harassment under Title IX: UNC-Chapel Hill's Title IX policy was adopted in August 2020 to comply with changes to federal Title IX rules and prohibits specific forms of sexual harassment.

The UNC-Chapel Hill Title IX policy addresses misconduct that falls within the scope and definition of Title IX sexual harassment. Any other sexual harassment, interpersonal violence, and stalking that falls outside the Title IX scope are addressed by the PPDHRM.

What Constitutes a Sexual Misconduct or Title IX Violation at UNC-Chapel Hill?

Policy on Prohibited Sexual Harassment under Title IX

  • Sexual harassment
  • Sexual assault
  • Dating violence
  • Domestic violence
  • Stalking

PPDHRM

  • Discrimination
  • Harassment
  • Sexual- or gender-based harassment
  • Sexual assault or sexual violence
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Interpersonal violence
  • Stalking
  • Complicity
  • Retaliation

Reports of sexual misconduct that do not meet the definition or jurisdictional requirements set out in the Title IX Policy are addressed in the PPDHRM.

What Happens When You're Accused of Sexual Misconduct at UNC-Chapel Hill?

As UNC-Chapel Hill has two policies regarding sexual misconduct, there are two processes for handling allegations: Title IX procedures and PPDHRM procedures.

Title IX Procedures

  • Reporting: Anyone may file a report of alleged sexual harassment to the UNC-Chapel Hill Title IX Coordinator. The Title IX Coordinator will determine if the person should file a formal complaint or may file a formal complaint on their behalf if they choose not to.
  • Formal complaint: Once the Title IX Coordinator receives a formal complaint, they may dismiss it or begin the resolution process.
  • Informal resolution: Both parties may agree to resolve the matter informally, without a full investigation and adjudication.
  • Investigation: If there is no informal resolution, the matter moves to an investigation. The Title IX Coordinator interviews possible witnesses, gathers information related to the complaint of sexual harassment, and then creates a report.
  • Hearing: After the Title IX Coordinator finishes the investigation, the matter proceeds to a hearing. Each party may have an advocate of their choice present with them at the hearing as well. Both parties can present statements, question witnesses, provide evidence, and answer questions posed by the panel.
  • Decision: The hearing panel makes a determination within ten days of the conclusion of the hearing. If it finds the respondent responsible for the allegation, it will also impose sanctions.
  • Appeals: Either party may appeal the panel's determination or sanctions decision by submitting a written appeal within five days of the determination of responsibility decision. An appeals officer will either deny or hear the appeal, allowing each party to provide a written statement. The appeals officer may affirm the outcome, return the matter to the hearing panel, or convene a new hearing panel. The decision of the appeals officer is final.

PPDHRM

  • Reporting and assessment: A designee from the Equal Opportunity and Compliance (EOC) office or Title IX office receives reports of sexual misconduct. They will assess the report to determine which action to take.
  • Voluntary resolution: A voluntary resolution involves individual and community remedies and does not lead to adjudication.
  • Investigation: An investigator gathers information related to the report to determine if a policy violation has occurred and, if so, recommends a sanction.
  • Hearing: If a policy violation has occurred, both parties can either accept the decision and sanction, accept the decision but ask for a hearing for the sanction, or request a hearing for both the decision and the sanction. If no policy violation has occurred, both parties can request an administrative review.
  • Appeals: Either party can appeal a hearing decision within five days of the hearing. The matter goes before an appeals officer who makes a final decision.

Potential Sanctions for Students Found Responsible for Sexual Misconduct

Students are found responsible for sexual misconduct at UNC-Chapel Hill may face one or more of the following sanctions, corrective measures, or remedies:

  • Expulsion
  • Permanent suspension
  • Suspension for a definite or indefinite period
  • Probation
  • Educational requirements
  • “No contact” orders
  • Housing restrictions

How Can a Student Defense Attorney-Advisor Help?

Students facing a disciplinary process for an allegation of sexual misconduct are allowed to have an advocate with them at their hearings. An advisor can also help students outside of the hearing by helping them identify witnesses, gather evidence, and helping them prepare a statement in their defense. If you are a UNC-Chapel Hill student facing a sexual harassment accusation, having a trained attorney-advisor by your side could result in a more favorable outcome for you.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped hundreds of students nationwide with Title IX and sexual harassment claims. Contact the Lento Law Firm today by calling 888-535-3686 if you want to protect the future of your education.

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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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