If you've been accused of sexual misconduct by your college or university, it's important you take the charges seriously. Obviously, sexual misconduct is a very serious matter, but beyond that, you're facing severe penalties. The minimum sanction in such cases is typically suspension. The more likely sanction is expulsion.
On top of this, school policies and judicial procedures are notoriously difficult to follow. In most cases, you are guaranteed some important due process rights, but schools don't always adhere to the letter of the law. In short, you're facing an uphill battle.
You can defend yourself. You can reclaim your reputation and get your life back on track. You don't want to try and do it on your own, though. Instead, as soon as you're accused, begin looking for a Title IX attorney, someone who knows the law and has experience with sexual misconduct cases.
Title IX Cases
Most sexual misconduct cases at Texas Women's University are dealt with using Title IX. Title IX is a federal law passed in 1972 that prohibits sexual discrimination and harassment on college campuses. In addition, the law includes a set of strict guidelines for how schools must investigate and adjudicate allegations. You can find a complete description of how TWU interprets those guidelines by reading through the TWU Title IX Policy.
Here are some of the highlights of that policy:
- Your school must have a designated Title IX Coordinator. Anyone may report sexual misconduct, but only a Complainant or the Coordinator may sign an official complaint against you.
- If the school does decide to investigate, you are entitled to written notice of the charges. This notice should include details about the allegation as well as the name of the Complainant.
- You have other important rights as well. Among these, you have the right to be presumed “not-responsible” (innocent) until proven “responsible” (guilty). You have the right to submit evidence and to review any evidence against you. You also have the right to an advisor, and this advisor can be an attorney.
- The Coordinator is responsible for appointing an Investigator. This person meets separately with both sides in the case. They also assemble evidence, including any witness testimony.
- 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.
- Once they receive the Investigative Report, the Coordinator sets a time and date for a live hearing and appoints one or more Decision-Makers to preside over the proceedings.
- 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—through your advisors—cross-examine one another and any witnesses against you.
- At the conclusion of the hearing, Decision-Makers come to a decision as to whether or not you are responsible for a violation. In reaching this decision, they use a legal standard known as “preponderance of evidence.” Less strict than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” this standard requires they find you responsible if they believe it is more than fifty percent likely you committed an offense.
- Both sides in the case have the right to appeal the verdict. However, you have just five days from being notified of that decision to file, and you'll need to make clear in your application exactly why you believe the case deserves a second look.
Non-Title IX Cases
It is important to note that while most sexual misconduct cases at TWU are handled through Title IX, not all are. Changes to the law in 2020 narrowed the definitions of “discrimination” and “harassment” and limited schools' jurisdictional authority. In response to these changes, many schools, including TWU, drafted new misconduct policies of their own. These “non-Title IX” policies were designed to handle misconduct no longer covered by federal law.
Because these policies aren't subject to the law, schools are free to use any judicial procedures they choose. That means, in some cases, you may not have the same due process protections you're afforded under Title IX.
The main difference between Title IX and non-Title IX cases at TWU is that non-Title IX cases don't provide you with the opportunity to defend yourself at a live hearing. Instead, the Investigator in the case, after collecting evidence and talking to witnesses, renders a final judgment. You are not allowed to cross-examine witnesses, and a single individual has total authority to find you responsible and assign a sanction.
It can be even more important in these cases, then, to have an attorney since you need someone by your side to make sure you aren't treated unfairly.
How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?
With everything at stake, you can't afford to try and handle a sexual misconduct allegation on your own. Sure, you're smart. You're in college, after all. This situation is serious, though, and it requires a professional: someone who knows how to construct an air-tight defense strategy, someone who knows the law, someone with experience taking on school administration.
Joseph D. Lento is a fully-qualified, licensed defense attorney. He isn't just any defense attorney, though. He's a Title IX attorney who specializes in school sexual misconduct cases. In fact, Joseph D. Lento built his practice representing students, just like you, defending them from all kinds of charges, from simple verbal harassment to dating violence and even rape. Joseph D. Lento has spent years studying Title IX. He knows its history and the politics behind it. He understands why schools like TWU have developed non-Title IX procedures, and he's experienced at dealing with these kinds of cases. Whether you're looking to prove your innocence or to negotiate a fair sanction, Joseph D. Lento can help.
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.