If your college or university has accused you of sexual misconduct, everything is on the line. Of course, Loyola University Chicago, as with any school, can't send you to prison; only a judge and jury can do that. Still, the stakes in a Title IX case have their own profound potential consequences. The minimum penalty in most sexual misconduct cases is suspension, and the more common penalty is expulsion. If you're expelled, it can be difficult, in not impossible, to find another school willing to accept you. Your academic career could effectively be over, and that could have repercussions that last the rest of your life.
So, what do you do? The very first thing you do is find out all you can about what you're facing. What are the specific details of the accusation? What procedures will your school be using to investigate your case? Will you have a chance to defend yourself at a formal hearing? The more you know, the better chance you stand of successfully defending yourself if the Title IX office at Loyola Chicago comes calling.
Someone may already have mentioned Title IX to you. That's because Title IX is the primary means by which colleges and universities investigate and adjudicate allegations of sexual misconduct.
What is Title IX? It's a federal law that was passed in 1972. Originally, it barred sexual discrimination in educational programs. Essentially, it kept schools from applying unequal admission standards to women and from limiting what kinds of subjects women could study. Over time, however, implementation of the law shifted. First, the definition of “sexual discrimination” was widened to include instances of “sexual harassment” and “sexual violence.” Then, the application of the law was broadened so that it no longer applied just to schools but to students as well.
Today, most Title IX cases involve students, and Title IX's main function is to provide the guidelines for how cases should be conducted.
Title IX Procedures
Most aspects of Title IX investigations and hearings are set by the federal government. Loyola Chicago provides a complete description of these grievance procedures.
- All schools must have a Title IX Coordinator who deals with accusations. All faculty and staff at Loyola must report any knowledge they have of sexual misconduct. However, only a complainant or the Coordinator can actually sign an official complaint.
- Once a complaint has been signed, the Coordinator must provide you with “notice.” Notice should include the name of the complainant and a detailed description of the specific allegation. It should also apprise you of your rights, such as the right to be presumed “not responsible” and the right to choose an advisor, who can be an attorney.
- The Coordinator then assigns an Investigator to conduct a full investigation. This individual meets separately with both parties. In addition, they interview witnesses and collect any physical evidence, such as text messages, clothing, or video.
- Once the investigation is complete, the Investigator writes a report summarizing their findings. Both you and the complainant have the right to raise objections to this report before it is ultimately forwarded to the Coordinator.
- Next, the Coordinator sets a date for a live hearing and selects panelists to decide the case.
- At the hearing, both sides have the opportunity—through your advisors—to present their cases. You may call witnesses and submit evidence. In addition, you have the right to cross-examine the complainant and any witnesses against you. Of course, the complainant has the same rights.
- Once the hearing is over, the panelists decide whether or not you are responsible for a violation. To do this, they use the “preponderance of evidence” standard. 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 sexual misconduct.
- You may appeal the hearing findings. The complainant may appeal as well. At Loyola, you have just ten days to file an appeal, and appeals can only be made only filed on certain very specific grounds:
- The discovery of new evidence
- An accusation of procedural irregularities
- An accusation of bias on the part of a Title IX official
Non-Title IX Cases
While most sexual misconduct cases are Title IX cases, not all of them are. In 2020, many schools began investigating what they call “non-Title IX cases.”
In 2020, the Trump administration significantly changed the rules of Title IX by introducing a brand-new set of guidelines. Known as the “Final Rule,” these guidelines narrowed the definitions of “discrimination” and “harassment” and limited schools' jurisdictional authority. Most colleges and universities felt that the changes weakened protections for victims and let some sexual offenses slip through the cracks. In response, these schools drafted new conduct policies designed to catch instances of misconduct that Title IX no longer covered.
The hitch is because non-Title IX cases aren't covered by federal law, schools can basically apply any judicial procedures they want. They are under no obligation to provide respondents with any particular rights, and some don't.
To its credit, Loyola Chicago does conduct an investigation into allegations in both Title IX and non-Title IX cases. However, you aren't entitled to a hearing in a non-Title IX case. That means you don't have an opportunity to present evidence or cross-examine witnesses. Instead, you must rely entirely on the Investigator to conduct a thorough investigation, to ask the right questions, and uncover the right information.
In fact, the Investigator actually decides whether or not you are responsible for a violation. That means you must also trust this person to remain objective through both the investigative and decision-making processes.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento, Sexual Misconduct Advisor
By this point, you may have realized just how complex sexual misconduct cases can be. After all, you may not even be sure yet which kind of procedures the school will use to investigate you. Remember, though, that Title IX entitles you to choose an advisor and that this advisor can be an attorney. Take advantage of this right.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a highly qualified, experienced attorney who specializes in university cases. Attorney Lento and his expert team have helped hundreds of students fight sexual misconduct accusations across the United States. Attorney Lento knows the law; he knows how schools operate. And he's ready to put this knowledge to work for you. Whether you're looking to fight false allegations or to negotiate a resolution that will let you complete your academic career, attorney Joseph D. Lento has the background and the skills to get you the justice you deserve.
If you or your child has been accused of sexual misconduct, don't wait to act. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.