Facing Sexual Misconduct Allegations at Eastern Washington University

If you've been charged with sexual misconduct by your college or university, you need to know: the situation is serious. How serious? End-of-your- academic-career serious. Potentially-devastating-effect-on-your-professional-career serious. The minimum penalty in these cases is usually suspension. The more likely penalty is expulsion, and expulsion often includes a transcript notation about the nature of your offense. It can be difficult to impossible to find another school that will accept you with a transcript like that.

You don't have to take on this situation alone, though. You have the right to an advisor, and that advisor can be an attorney. Given what's at stake, you want to make sure you choose the very best attorney you can find. A local attorney or family attorney just won't do. You need a Title IX attorney, someone who understands the law and has experience protecting student clients. You need Joseph D. Lento.

Title IX Sexual Misconduct

Eastern Washington University handles most of its sexual misconduct allegations using guidelines set by Title IX. Title IX is a federal law originally passed in 1972 that prohibits sexual discrimination and harassment on university campuses. In addition to this general prohibition, the law also sets forth a strict set of rules for how schools should handle investigations and adjudications.

EWU Policy 402-05 describes the school's interpretation of Title IX procedures, including the following highlights:

  • Eastern Washington University has a designated Title IX Coordinator. Anyone may report you for a sexual misconduct violation, but only a Complainant (alleged victim) or the Coordinator may sign an official complaint against you.
  • If the Coordinator does open an investigation, they must provide you with a “Notice of the Charges.” This notice should identify the Complainant and provide details of the allegation. In addition, it should set forth your rights as Respondent (accused). Among these, you have the right to
    • Be treated as equal to the Complainant in all matters
    • Select an advisor, who may be an attorney
    • Be presumed “not responsible” (innocent) until proven “responsible” (guilty)
    • Be investigated and judged by non-biased officials
    • Review all evidence against you
    • Receive advanced notice of all meetings and proceedings in the case
  • The Coordinator appoints an Investigator to the case or may themselves serve as the Investigator.
  • The Investigator typically begins by meeting separately with both sides. This is your first chance to offer your version of events. As the investigation continues, they go on to interview witnesses and collect any physical evidence.
  • Once they've completed their work, the Investigator writes a report summarizing their findings. Both sides in the case have the right to review this document and suggest revisions before it is forwarded to the Title IX Coordinator.
  • Upon receiving the Investigative Report, the Coordinator sets a time and date for a live hearing and selects one or more decision makers to oversee the case.
  • Hearings must be live, but either side may request they be held via closed-circuit video.
  • At the hearing itself, both sides may make arguments, present evidence, and call witnesses. In addition, you may—through your advisors—cross-examine each other and any witnesses against you.
  • At the conclusion of the hearing, decision-makers determine whether or not you are responsible for a violation. To do this, they use a legal standard known as “Preponderance of Evidence.” In simple terms, they must find you responsible (guilty) if they believe it is “more likely than not” that you committed an offense. This is a far less strict standard than the one you may be more familiar with, “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.”
  • Finally, either side in the case can appeal the hearing decision. However, grounds for appeal are strictly limited to
    • Procedural irregularities that affected the case outcome
    • New evidence that could have affected the case outcome
    • Bias on the part of a Title IX official that could have affected the case outcome

Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct

Title IX was significantly rewritten in 2020. As a result of the changes, not all forms of sexual misconduct are covered under the law. Off-campus incidents, for instance, do not normally qualify as Title IX offenses. In response to these changes, many schools, including Eastern Washington University, rewrote their own university policies to handle these so-called “Non-Title IX” incidents.

Because they are not subject to federal law, schools are free to investigate these “Non-Title IX” cases in any way they see fit. They are under no obligation to follow Title IX procedures or to afford respondents any particular due process rights.

Luckily, EWU's non-Title IX procedures are essentially the same as its Title IX procedures. The only significant difference between the two, in fact, is that non-Title IX cases are handled by the Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (SRR) rather than the Title IX Coordinator.

How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?

By this point, you probably have a pretty good sense of why you might need an attorney if you're charged with a sexually-based offense. Simply put, your entire future is at stake, and procedures in these cases can be complex and difficult to navigate.

You need help, the best help you can find.

Joseph D. Lento is a fully-qualified defense attorney. He's not just any defense attorney, though. Joseph D. Lento is a Title IX attorney. That means he specializes in handling campus sexual misconduct cases. He understands Title IX, its history, and its politics, but he's also experienced at dealing with non-Title IX cases. Joseph D. Lento has dedicated his career to fighting for student rights. Over the years, he has handled hundreds of cases for students just like you, making sure they're treated fairly and that they get the justice they deserve.

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.

Contact Us Today!

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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