False accusations of sexual assault violations can leave you reeling. These claims often occur after a misunderstanding, an argument, or even out of the blue. If you've been wrongly accused, you know that the impact is far-reaching. Not only do you suffer humiliation, but your school is likely to prohibit you from attending classes and bar you from campus altogether while the claim is under investigation. If your community is tight-knit, or if you're well known within your community, then you and even your family's reputations are at stake.
When you're facing allegations of sexual harassment, your first instinct may be to go online and defend yourself. When emotions run high, it is easy to call individuals out or even post retaliatory content. You might simply feel you're demonstrating your accuser's unreliable or untrustworthy character, or you might believe you're showing your side of the story.
While posting or even responding to your accuser's post online may seem like the best and most immediate way to handle their claims against you, this reaction is inadvisable for a variety of reasons. If you've been falsely accused of a Title IX sexual misconduct violation at your school, then you should hire an experienced student sexual misconduct defense attorney. Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm understands the many complicated emotions that accompany false accusations. In addition to advocating on your behalf in the school's investigations against you, Mr. Lento will communicate to you the best way to conduct yourself during and after the investigation.
What to Do if You're Falsely Accused of Sexual Misconduct
If you receive a notification from the school stating that someone has made a sexual misconduct complaint against you, then your best line of defense is to hire an attorney experienced in defending students from allegations of sexual misconduct.
If you've been falsely accused, you should not:
- Discuss the allegations against you on social media or elsewhere
- Attempt to communicate with your accuser online or in person
It's important to note that even if you trust an individual, and feel safe discussing the allegations against you with them, they can be called as a witness in the school's disciplinary hearing. It's always best that all information relating to the false accusation against you be communicated through your attorney. Joseph D. Lento knows the specific “dos and don'ts” of how to control the narrative in a way that best protects your defense.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect of defending false sexual misconduct allegations against you is resisting the urge to confront your accuser. Even when you believe that the claim is unfounded or resulting from a misunderstanding, you need to avoid any contact with your accuser if they, or their supporters, take their grievances to social media.
How Do You React to False Accusations Online?
The answer to the question “How do you react to false accusations online?” is: You do not.
False allegations of sexual harassment or violence are extremely serious. Students accused of this kind of misconduct often face a battle on multiple fronts. Not only do they need to mount a rigorous defense with the school's disciplinary board, but they are also likely to find that their accuser or even individuals who've taken their accuser's side, are voicing opinions and assumptions on social media.
It is undoubtedly difficult to stand by and allow posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media platform, to go unanswered by you. Although you might think that leaving these online allegations unanswered demonstrates your guilt, responding to them could do more harm than good.
You need to remember that statements made online are often permanent. Even if you delete them, there's a good chance someone took a screenshot of the response. Responding to your accuser publicly or through private messaging is risky because, in all likelihood, your messaging is weighted in high emotion. When you respond out of anger, fear, and frustration, you might say something that is intended to provide a defense but is ultimately construed as an admission of at least some guilt.
Your school's disciplinary board will absolutely consider the content of online messages and posts, and given the lack of context in online communication, your statements could be considered ongoing harassment or evidence of admission.
What Is Victim Blaming and Why You Should Be Careful
In addition to the way your school may construe the online messages you make, you also have to consider how the community at large will interpret the statements you make to someone who's accused you of sexual misconduct. In the context of the Me Too movement and Cancel Culture, suggesting that your accuser was to blame for the incident in question will often be interpreted as victim blaming.
It's understandable that you want to defend all that's at stake but victim blaming, or even the perception of victim blaming, is not the way to go about asserting your defense. Those who've been falsely accused may truly feel that they are the victim and not their accuser, but at the end of the day, taking the high road will enable a smoother transition back into the good graces of your community.
The best way to defend your reputation and your ability to continue on with your education is to hire an experienced student discipline defense attorney.
False Sexual Misconduct Accusations Require a Strong Defense
Joseph D. Lento has unparalleled experience defending students across the nation who have been falsely accused of sexual misconduct under Title IX or other school policies. He knows that students, and their families, are facing an uphill battle on multiple fronts, and that in addition to protecting your right to return to school, you need to protect your reputation in the community at large. With insight garnered from many years of experience, attorney Lento is able to offer students the context and advice they need to navigate this extremely difficult and high-stakes situation. If you or your loved one has been falsely accused of sexual misconduct, call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 today.