If you've been charged with sexual misconduct by your college or university, you need answers, and you need them now. You need to know exactly who leveled this accusation at you and exactly what they're alleging you did. You need to know how your school investigates and adjudicates these cases. Most importantly, though, you need to know how to get help, because your future is on the line, and it's no easy matter to navigate campus judicial procedures.
We'll get into the answers to all these questions, but let's start with the last one. How do you go about getting help? This situation is serious, and you need someone who knows how to construct a tight defense, who understands the law as it applies to students, and who has experience helping students get the justice they deserve. In short, you need a Title IX attorney.
Title IX and Sexual Misconduct
Why do you need an attorney, and why do you specifically need a Title IX attorney? Wright State University deals with most sexual misconduct cases using Title IX, a federal law passed in 1972 that prohibits sexual discrimination. The law is complex. Even the definition of "discrimination" is not what you might expect. The guidelines for how investigations and hearings should proceed run to some 550 pages, and that's before WSU interprets them.
Here's just a sampling of what WSU's policy has to say.
- Your school has a designated Title IX Coordinator. Anyone may report sexual misconduct, but only a Complainant (the alleged victim) or the Coordinator may sign a formal complaint against you.
- If you are being investigated, the Coordinator must provide you with written notice of the charges. This notice should include the name of the Complainant and details about the allegation, important information that can help you begin to build your case.
- Under Title IX, Respondents (the accused) have a number of important rights. These include
- The right to be presumed "Not Responsible" (innocent)
- The right to an advisor, who may be an attorney
- The right to review all evidence
- The right to submit evidence and suggest witnesses to the Investigator
- The right to advanced notice of all meetings and hearings
- The right to be judged by an unbiased Decision Maker
- An Investigator, appointed by the Coordinator, collects the facts in the case. This person interviews both you and the Complainant. In addition, they collect any physical evidence and interview relevant witnesses.
- When the investigation is complete, the Investigator writes an unbiased summary of their findings. Both sides then have ten days to review this document and suggest revisions. Ultimately, the report is forwarded to the Coordinator.
- Once the Title IX Coordinator receives the report, they set a time and date for a live hearing and appoint a Decision Maker to preside over that hearing. The Investigative Report is given to the Decision Maker and becomes the foundation of the case.
- At the hearing itself, you and the Complainant both have a chance to make your case. You can make arguments, submit evidence, and call witnesses. In addition, you may cross-examine each other and any witnesses against you.
- Under Title IX, advisors must conduct all cross-examination. If you do not have an advisor, the school will appoint one for you. They will not, however, supply you with an attorney.
- Once the hearing is complete, the Decision Maker makes a determination as to your responsibility. In making this determination, they use what's known as the "Preponderance of Evidence" legal standard. According to this standard, they must find the Respondent responsible if they believe it is "more likely than not" that the Respondent committed an offense.
- Both you and the Complainant have the right to appeal the hearing outcome. Appeals must be in writing and must be filed within ten days. In addition, appeals may only be filed if
- There is new evidence in the case
- You can show procedural irregularities occurred during the investigation or hearing
- You can demonstrate bias on the part of a Title IX official
You may have noticed that these procedures afford you a number of important due process rights. Given the complexity of the law, though, it's not always easy to figure out what those rights are and how to use them effectively. Only a qualified Title IX lawyer can advise you on how to take full advantage of them.
Non-Title IX Cases at Wright State University
Wright State deals with most sexual misconduct cases using Title IX, but not all. Recent changes to the law have affected schools' jurisdictional authority. For example, off-campus incidents are no longer covered under Title IX. WSU, and many other schools like it, have created new policies to handle these so-called "non-Title IX cases." At WSU, they are dealt with under the Student Code of Conduct, using the same procedures you might face for other kinds of non-academic violations like underage drinking or vandalism.
For the most part, non-Title IX procedures are the same as the Title IX procedures outlined above. There are some differences, though, the most important of which is the nature of your advisor's participation in the process. Under Title IX, your advisor may represent you during meetings and proceedings. In non-Title cases, in contrast, your advisor may accompany you and offer advice but may not speak directly to any administrative official.
How Can Joseph D. Lento Help
Whatever kind of sexual misconduct charges you may be facing, Title IX or non-Title IX, the rules and procedures are complex. Both processes afford you important rights, but you have to know how to claim those rights and how to use them to your benefit.
An attorney can help you make sense of the process and give you the best possible chance of winning your case.
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. 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 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.