If someone at your college or university has accused you of sexual misconduct, you need to know now: the situation is serious. How serious? Such cases aren't just a matter of school policy; they're a matter of federal law. The minimum penalty is usually suspension. More likely, your school will expel you if it finds you responsible. That expulsion might very well include a transcript notation about the nature of your offense, and that could put a quick end to your academic career.
A serious situation demands a serious response. Luckily, at Louisiana Tech, you're entitled to choose an advisor to help you prepare and present your case. In addition, that advisor can be an attorney. Make sure you choose a Title IX attorney to represent you, though. These cases aren't simple, and only someone with expertise in Title IX will be able to help you navigate the law's many rules and procedures.
Title IX and Sexual Misconduct
Louisiana Tech University handles almost all of its sexual misconduct cases using guidelines set forth in Title IX. That's a federal law passed in 1972 that prohibits sexual discrimination and harassment on college campuses.
Title IX isn't perfect, but it does provide respondents (accused students) several important due process rights, and it does ensure that Louisiana Tech must follow the same basic procedures as every other school in the country.
- Your school must have a designated Title IX Coordinator. This person sets school policy regarding all issues related to sexual discrimination and harassment and makes decisions about which allegations warrant an investigation.
- If you're being investigated, the Coordinator must provide you with written Notice of the Charges. This document names the Complainant (alleged victim) and provides details about the allegation.
- Title IX provides you with several rights as a Respondent (accused). These include:
- The right to an advisor, who may be an attorney
- The right to be treated equally to the Complainant
- The right to be presumed “Not Responsible” (innocent)
- The right to unbiased investigators and decision-makers
- The right to review all evidence in the case
- The right to advanced notice of any and all meetings or proceedings
- The Coordinator also has the responsibility for appointing an Investigator to uncover the facts of the case.
- The Investigator interviews both sides in the case. Your advisor can accompany you to any and all meetings. In addition, investigators talk with any witnesses and collect any physical evidence.
- Louisiana Tech's policy does not specify a time limit for investigations, but Title IX mandates that the process must be conducted in a timely manner. At the conclusion of the investigation, the Investigator completes a written report summarizing their findings. This report should draw no conclusions as to your level of responsibility. Further, you have the right to read over this document and suggest revisions before it is turned over to the Coordinator.
- Once they've received the Investigative Report, the Coordinator sets a time and date for a live hearing and appoints a three-member panel of Decision Makers to preside over the proceedings.
- A hearing offers you an opportunity to defend yourself. You may offer arguments, present evidence, and call witnesses to testify. In addition, you may—through your advisor—cross-examine the Complainant and any other witnesses against you. The Complainant has these same rights.
- Once both sides have presented their cases, the Decision-Makers deliberate as to your level of responsibility. In doing so, they use a legal standard known as “Preponderance of Evidence.” According to this standard, they must find you Responsible if they believe it is “more likely than not” that you committed an offense.
- Finally, you have the right to appeal the panel's decision. However, you have just three days in which to do so. In addition, there are strict limitations on grounds for appeal. These grounds include:
- A procedural irregularity
- The discovery of new evidence
- Conflict of interest or bias on the part of an official
Non-Title IX Cases
Most sexual misconduct cases at Louisiana Tech are Title IX cases, but not all. This is because of changes to the law made in 2020. Among these changes, the Trump administration declared that off-campus incidents would no longer be treated as Title IX violations. Many schools, including Louisiana Tech, responded to these changes by instituting their own school policies to handle what is now known as “non-Title IX” sexual misconduct.
Because non-Title IX cases are not subject to federal law, schools are free to create any procedures for dealing with them. They need not follow any particular process, and they are not required to provide respondents with any particular due process rights.
For the most part, Louisiana Tech's non-Title IX procedures mirror those of Title IX. For example, cases involve both a thorough investigation and a live hearing. You are entitled to an advisor who may be an attorney. The school must treat you as Not Responsible until such time as you are proven Responsible.
There are subtle differences between the two processes, however. In non-Title IX cases, you are not entitled to the same supportive measures as the Complainant. Two investigators are assigned to these cases rather than one. Your advisor may accompany you to all meetings but does not necessarily have the right to participate directly in the proceedings.
How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?
Whether you're facing a Title IX or non-Title IX allegation, you need the best representation you can find. There's simply too much at stake to choose a family member or a local attorney as your advisor.
Joseph D. Lento is a fully-licensed, fully-qualified defense attorney. He's not just any attorney, though. He's a Title IX attorney. What does that mean? Joseph D. Lento knows exactly what Title IX has to say and how to use the law to your advantage. In addition, he's experienced working with students and dealing with university faculty and administrators. Most importantly, he's dedicated to ensuring students like you get all the rights they deserve and the best possible resolution to their cases. He's helped hundreds of students get the justice they deserve, and he can help you to do the same.
If you or your child has been accused of sexual misconduct, don't wait to act. The school is already building its case; you should be too. For more information or to find out how we can help, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686, or use our automated online form.