Sexual misconduct is among the most serious charges any college student can face. If you're accused, you aren't just facing your school's judicial system. You're likely dealing with federal law as well. That means procedures can be difficult to navigate at best. Lose your case, and you're probably looking at dismissal from your college or university.
Here's the good news: you can defend yourself, and you can win. You can restore your reputation and reclaim your future. You're going to need help, though. If you should find yourself in this situation, you don't want to handle it alone. You want a qualified, experienced Title IX attorney—someone who knows the system and understands what's at stake—by your side.
First things first, someone has probably already mentioned Title IX to you. Just what is Title IX, and what does it have to do with your case?
Title IX is a federal law passed in 1972 that prohibits sexual discrimination on all college campuses. Discrimination is broadly interpreted to include a wide variety of misconduct, from simple verbal harassment to far more serious offenses like stalking, relationship violence, and rape. The law also outlines a strict set of processes and procedures schools must follow in investigating and adjudicating accusations. Most cases at CUNY Lehman College follow these guidelines.
- First, your school must have a designated Title IX Coordinator. This individual handles all complaints and makes the initial decision about whether or not to open a formal investigation.
- If they do decide to investigate, the Coordinator must provide you with written notice of the charges. This document is the first element of your defense. It contains both the name of the Complainant (accuser) and details about the allegation.
- The Notice of Charges should also provide a list of your rights. Among these, you have the right to be presumed “not responsible” (innocent). You also have the right to an advisor, and this advisor can be an attorney. Furthermore, you have the right to submit evidence to investigators and to review any evidence against you.
- Title IX cases have two parts. First, the school conducts a full and formal investigation. The Coordinator appoints the Investigator, and this person has 120 days to collect evidence and interview witnesses.
- At the conclusion of the investigation, the Investigator completes a written report summarizing the evidence. Both sides in the case have an opportunity to review this document and suggest revisions before it is forwarded to the Title IX Coordinator.
- The second part of the case is a formal hearing. The Coordinator sets the time and date and appoints a three-member panel.
- The hearing itself must be live. However, either side may request that it be held via closed-circuit video.
- At the hearing, both you and the Complainant have an opportunity to present your cases. You may submit evidence and call witnesses on your behalf. In addition, you may cross-examine the Complainant and any witnesses against you.
- Under Title IX, schools have some leeway in terms of how much they allow advisors may be involved in the hearing. At CUNY Lehman, advisors can participate fully in making their clients' cases.
- Once the hearing is complete, three Decision-Maker(s) decide the case using what's known as the “preponderance of evidence” standard. According to this legal standard, they must find you responsible if they believe it is “more likely than not” that you violated policy.
- Finally, both you and the Complainant have the right to appeal the hearing verdict. However, you must file this appeal within five days of being notified of the verdict. In addition, you may only file an appeal for very limited reasons, including new evidence, procedural irregularities, or clear bias on the part of a Title IX official.
Non-Title IX Cases
As noted above, most sexual misconduct cases at CUNY Lehman are Title IX cases. Not all are, however. The law changed in 2020. Among other changes, the government narrowed the definitions of discrimination and harassment and limited schools' jurisdictional authority so that they could only investigate misconduct occurring on campus. Many schools, CUNY Lehman among them, passed new policies designed to cover misconduct no longer subject to Title IX.
Because these so-called “non-Title IX cases” aren't a part of federal law, schools are free to create their own policies for handling them, and they don't have to respect respondents' due process rights.
Luckily, CUNY Lehman's policy keeps most Title IX procedures in place for its non-Title IX cases. For example, respondents are still entitled to a presumption of innocence. They're still allowed to choose an advisor who may be an attorney. They still go through an investigation and have the right to raise objections to the investigative report.
There is one key difference, though, between how CUNY Lehman treats the two kinds of cases. Non-Title IX cases don't include a hearing. Instead, at the conclusion of the investigation, the Investigator decides the case based on the facts they gather.
How Can Joseph D. Lento Help
Whatever kind of case you're dealing with, an attorney can provide important support, helping you respond to investigators, uncover evidence, and present your case at the hearing. Not just any attorney will do, however. You want a Title IX attorney, someone whose primary focus as a lawyer is on student defenses.
You want Joseph D. Lento.
Joseph D. Lento built his practice representing students, just like you, defending them from all types of sexual misconduct charges. Joseph D. Lento has spent his career studying Title IX. He knows its history and the politics that surround it. He understands why schools like CUNY Lehman have instituted non-Title IX procedures, and he's experienced in dealing with these kinds of cases. Most importantly, Joseph D. Lento is on your side. He recognizes that schools don't always treat respondents fairly, and he's dedicated his career to keeping them honest.
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.