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Futures on the Line: The Ugly Side of Title IX (Part I)

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Aug 12, 2022 | 0 Comments

Title IX charges are serious business no matter who you are. The minimum penalty in such cases is typically suspension. The more likely outcome is expulsion. Should you find yourself suspended or expelled for sexual misconduct, you'll find it difficult, if not impossible, to find another school willing to accept you. In short, your very future can be at risk.

College athletes, though, face special challenges when it comes to Title IX. Not only do they potentially have more on the line, but they're also more likely to be targets of false accusations.

The Same Old Story

We've all seen the headlines. The story is so common by this point that we know it by heart. A college athlete with a big name and a bright future is accused of sexual assault. The school investigates. The police investigate. The NCAA investigates. Victims' rights groups protest loudly and insist that something must be done, and in the end, heads roll. We all congratulate ourselves on justice having been done and move on to the next case.

That's how the scenario played out for Malik St. Hilaire, a football player at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut, in 2016. Hilaire and another unnamed player were accused of gang-raping a freshman student, Nikki Yovino.

The school wasted no time in responding to the accusation. The two players were summarily dismissed from the football team and then suspended from the school itself, pending an investigation. They lost their scholarships, they lost their athletic careers, and ultimately both were forced to withdraw from the university. As the unnamed player described it, “I lost my scholarship, my dream of continuing to play football and now I am in debt $30,000 and I'm simply trying to get ahead as best as I can.”

An Unexpected Ending

Here's the thing, Yovino eventually admitted she'd made the whole thing up. Why? Why would someone do that? Victims' rights organizations will tell you they don't. Never. In this case, Yovino was trying to get the attention of another man she was interested in. Hilaire's only real crime was being a football star. When Yovino needed a name—someone instantly recognizable, someone calculated to make another person jealous—his was the obvious choice.

Yovino herself was eventually given a year's sentence for making the false report. However, that pales in comparison to what Hilaire would have received had he been found guilty in a court of law or when compared to what he actually suffered and continues to suffer at the hands of his former school. Indeed, the young woman is reported to have rolled her eyes as the verdict was read.

Protecting Yourself

If you're a college athlete, you need to know: you're a target. The other students at your school know your name. The public is already suspicious of you simply because you're an athlete. Your school has no qualms about throwing you to the wolves if it will help salvage its reputation.

You don't have to simply accept your fate, though. If you find yourself accused, make sure you have a Title IX attorney on your side, someone who knows the law and who has experience helping athletes get the justice they deserve.

To find out more or to get help with your Title IX case, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686, or use our automated online form.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.

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