If you're a student facing sexual misconduct charges, you need to know right up front: the situation is serious. In most cases, the minimum penalty is suspension. The far more common penalty is expulsion. Expulsion in itself can be traumatic, but it often comes with a transcript notation about the nature of your offense. That can keep you from enrolling anywhere else. In other words, if you're found responsible for a violation, your academic career could effectively be over.
Things don't have to end up that way, though. You're smart and capable, and there are many great resources out there to help you defend yourself. One of the best resources you can invest in is a Title IX attorney. The law entitles you to an advisor, someone to help you prepare your case and to accompany you to all meetings and hearings. Further, this advisor can be, and should be, an attorney. Not just any attorney will do, though. You need a Title IX attorney, someone who knows the law and who has experience representing student clients. They'll give you the best chance of winning your case.
So read on to find out more about what you're facing. The more prepared you are, the better you'll be able to handle this situation. Then, call the Law Offices of Joseph D. Lento at 888-555-3686 to find out how we can help.
Title IX Sexual Misconduct
Most college and university sexual misconduct cases are subject to strict guidelines set up by the federal government. Title IX, passed in 1972, prohibits all forms of sexual discrimination and harassment on college campuses. In addition, the law contains rules and procedures for investigating and adjudicating allegations.
Title IX guidelines have been further encoded into Wisconsin state law. Here's a rough outline of what you can expect.
- Like all schools, UWEC has a Title IX Coordinator. This individual oversees all aspects of the school's Title IX policy. They also decide whether or not a particular allegation warrants an official investigation.
- If the Coordinator does open an investigation, you're entitled to a Notice of the Charges. This notice must include the name of the Complainant, details about the allegation, and a list of your rights under Title IX. 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)
- Review all evidence against you
- Be investigated and judged by non-biased officials
- Receive advanced notification of all meetings and proceedings in the case
- The Coordinator is also responsible for choosing an Investigator to look into the allegation.
- The Investigator begins by meeting separately with both sides of the case. This is your chance to give your version of events. In addition, they collect physical evidence and talk with witnesses.
- Once they've completed their work, the Investigator writes an unbiased summary of their findings. You have the right to review this document and to suggest any revisions you feel are necessary.
- The Investigative Report becomes the foundation for a live hearing. Once the Coordinator receives this report, they set a time and date for the hearing and select a panel to oversee it.
- At the hearing itself, both sides may make arguments, present evidence, and call witnesses. You may also—through your advisors—cross-examine each other and any witnesses against you.
- Once the hearing is concluded, members of the panel decide whether or not you are responsible for a Title IX violation. The final outcome is based on a majority vote, and members must employ a legal standard known as “Preponderance of Evidence.” In simple terms, they are required to find you responsible if they believe it is “more likely than not” that you committed an offense.
- You have the additional right to appeal the panel's decision to the school's Chancellor. However, appeals must be filed within fourteen days of notification of the outcome, and grounds for appeal are limited to
- Procedural irregularities that affected the case outcome
- Finding was not based on factors prescribed by Title IX
- 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
- The information in the record does not support the decisions
Not all sexual misconduct cases are Title IX cases. This is because of changes to the law in 2020, which narrowed the definitions of “discrimination” and “harassment” and limited schools' jurisdictional authority. Off-campus incidents, for example, are no longer covered under the law.
Many schools have adopted new policies and procedures for dealing with these so-called “non-Title IX” accusations, and those policies and procedures often differ significantly from those outlined in Title IX. Schools aren't, for instance, obligated to provide you with any particular due process rights.
However, the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, has chosen to employ the same procedures in all cases, whether or not the allegations strictly meet the current requirements under the law.
How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?
If you've been paying attention, you probably have a pretty good sense by this point of why you might need an attorney if you're facing a sexual misconduct charge. Your entire future is at stake, and procedures in these cases are complex and difficult to navigate. The federal government's Title IX guidelines run to some 550 pages, and that doesn't include government memorandums and judicial opinions. You're a student; you don't have time to read through and digest that much information.
Joseph D. Lento is a fully-qualified defense attorney. He's not just any defense attorney, though. Joseph D. Lento is what's known as a Title IX attorney. That means he specializes in handling campus sexual misconduct cases. Joseph D. Lento understands Title IX, its history, and its politics, but he's also experienced in dealing with non-Title IX cases. He has dedicated his career to fighting for student rights. Over the years, Joseph D. Lento 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 try to handle it yourself. Make sure you have the best legal representation you can find. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.