Sexual misconduct charges are serious business. How serious? Serious enough that if your college or university has leveled an allegation against you, you should never try to handle it all on your own. Keep in mind: the minimum penalty in such cases is usually suspension. The more likely penalty in such cases is expulsion.
Here's the good news: you don't have to face this situation all on your own. Wilmington University allows you to choose an advisor to help you navigate the process. Even better, that advisor can be an attorney. You don't want to choose just any attorney, though. You need someone who understands the specific components of campus sexual misconduct cases, someone with experience defending student rights. You need a Title IX attorney.
Title IX Cases
Most sexual misconduct cases at Wilmington University are dealt with as Title IX violations. Title IX is a federal law, passed in 1972, that prohibits all forms of sexual discrimination and harassment. That includes any sexually-based offenses, from simple verbal harassment to stalking, dating violence, and rape.
Every case has two parts: an investigation, and a hearing. The law mandates how both of these processes should proceed.
- Your school has a designated Title IX Coordinator. Anyone at your school may report sexual misconduct. However, only a Complainant (accuser) or the Coordinator may sign an official complaint against you.
- If the school does decide to investigate you, the Coordinator must provide you with written notice of the charges. This notice should include the name of the Complainant as well as details about the allegation
- The Notice of Charges should also outline your rights. You have the right to be presumed "not-responsible” (innocent) until proven “responsible” (guilty). You have the right to review any evidence against you and to submit evidence to the Investigator. You also have the right to an advisor, and this advisor can be an attorney.
- The Coordinator appoints an Investigator to look into the accusation. This person separately interviews both parties. They also collect physical evidence and identify relevant witnesses.
- The Investigator has sixty business days to complete the investigation. After that, they write a summary of their findings. Both parties have the right to review this document and make suggestions for revision before it is forwarded to the Title IX Coordinator.
- Once the Coordinator receives the Investigative Report, they set a date and time for a live hearing. In addition, they appoint one or more Decision-Makers to preside over the hearing.
- At the hearing, both sides have the opportunity to present evidence, including witness testimony. In addition, you may—through your advisors—cross-examine each other and any witnesses against you.
- At the conclusion of the hearing, the Decision-Maker(s) determines whether or not you are responsible for a violation. To do this, they use a legal standard known as “preponderance of evidence.” Less strict than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” “preponderance of evidence” requires Decision-Makers find you responsible if they believe it is more than fifty percent likely that you committed an offense.
Finally, both sides have the right to appeal the hearing outcome. You must do so within ten days of receiving notification. In addition, appeals must be based on a narrow set of criteria that includes the discovery of new evidence, an allegation of bias on the part of an official, or proof of procedural error.
Non-Title IX Cases
Not every case of sexual misconduct at Wilmington University is a Title IX case. That's because, in 2020, the Trump administration significantly revised Title IX procedural guidelines. Among other changes, the administration narrowed the definitions of “harassment” and “discrimination” and limited schools' jurisdictional authority. In response, many schools, including Wilmington University, instituted their own policies to handle incidents the law no longer covered.
These polices aren't subject to the law, so schools are free to investigate in any manner they choose. This means Respondents aren't necessarily entitled to the same due process protections Title IX provides.
For the most part, WU's “non-Title IX” policy mirrors their Title IX policy. That is, the process has two parts: an investigation and a hearing. Students have the same basic rights as they do under Title IX. Procedures in both parts of the process are roughly the same. The one significant difference has to do with the role advisors play during the hearing. Under Title IX, advisors may take an active role in questioning witnesses, and, in fact, are required to conduct any cross-examination. Under WU's non-Title IX policy, Decision-Makers ask all questions, and advisors may only serve in an advisory capacity. In other words, they may not address the Decision-Makers are or other hearing participants directly.
How Can Joseph D. Lento Help
You're a college student. That means you're smart and capable. You can survive this situation. You can defend your reputation and get your academic career back on track. You're going to need help, though. Title IX attorneys are trained in the law. And, since even non-Title IX cases are based on that law, they're fully qualified to handle all types of sexual misconduct cases. Title IX attorneys are experts at all aspects of investigations and hearings, from helping you answer questions to crafting defense strategies and developing cross-examination approaches.
Joseph D. Lento built his practice defending students just like you from sexual misconduct charges. He has experience dealing with all types of allegations, from online harassment to rape. Joseph D. Lento knows Title IX. He knows its history, and he knows how politics have shaped that history. At the same time, he understands how colleges and universities operate. He's used to their tactics, and he's skilled at countering those tactics. Most of all, Joseph D. Lento is empathetic to your situation. He knows that schools tend to take accusers' sides in these cases, that they'll do virtually anything—even stack the deck against you—to make sure you're found responsible. He's determined to make sure they treat you fairly and that you get the justice you 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.