It's not easy being a college student. You have to deal with that statistics professor, the one with the heavy accent you struggle to follow. You've got a roommate with night terrors. You're trying to learn how to do your own laundry.
You can solve most of these problems on your own. That's what college is for: learning to solve your own problems.
Some problems are too big for you to handle alone, though. A sexual misconduct charge is one of them. If you've been accused, it's no exaggeration to say that your entire future is at stake, and the process of defending yourself can be complicated at best.
In short, you need a Title IX attorney, and you need one ASAP.
Your attorney can't do it all for you, though. You're going to need to know what “preponderance of evidence means.” You'll need to know what your school's consent policy is. In short, you're going to have to put some of those problem-solving skills you've been learning to work.
Take the time now to find out all you can about exactly what you're facing. You can start here.
In all probability, CSU with handle your case using the rules and guidelines set out in Title IX. What is Title IX? It's a federal law passed in 1972 and designed to limit sexual discrimination in US educational programs. The law has a complicated history that you don't necessarily need to know. What's important is that today Title IX is used to investigate most instances of sexual misconduct on college campuses.
So, what exactly does CSU's Title IX policy say? Here's a brief outline of its most important points.
- First, the law says your school must have a Title IX Coordinator. This person receives all misconduct complaints and decides whether or not to initiate an investigation.
- If you're being investigated, the Coordinator must provide you with a written Notice of the investigation. This document should identify the complainant and provide details about the allegation. You can use this information to begin preparing your case.
- The Notice should also let you know about your rights. Among these, you have the right to be presumed “not responsible” (innocent) until proven “responsible” (guilty). You also have the right to choose an advisor to help you with your case. This advisor can be an attorney.
- Next, the Coordinator will appoint an Investigator. This Investigator will conduct separate interviews with you and the complainant. They will also collect any physical evidence and any witness testimony.
- At the conclusion of the investigation, the Investigator will complete a report of their findings. Both sides then have ten days to examine this report and make any revision suggestions.
- Once the Coordinator receives the investigative report, the second phase of the case begins: the hearing. The Coordinator sets a date for this hearing and appoints a Decision Maker to oversee the proceedings.
- At the hearing, both you and the complainant will have an opportunity to present evidence and call witnesses on your behalf. In addition, you can, through your advisors, cross-examine one another and any witnesses against you.
- At the conclusion of the hearing, the Decision Maker will review all the evidence and determine whether or not you are responsible for violating Title IX policy. This decision is based on a legal standard known as “preponderance of evidence.” Basically, the Decision Maker must find you responsible if they are more than fifty percent certain you committed an offense.
- Finally, both you and the complainant can appeal the Decision Maker's findings. However, you have only five days to file an appeal, and appeals must be based on new evidence, procedural mistakes, or bias on the part of a Title IX official.
Non-Title IX Cases
In all probability, CSU will use Title IX procedures to investigate your case. However, not every sexual misconduct case is a Title IX case. Here's why.
The most recent Title IX guidelines were put in place by the Trump administration in 2020. Among other changes, the new rules narrowed the definitions of “discrimination” and “harassment” and limited school jurisdictions. In simplest terms, some forms of misconduct weren't covered under Title IX anymore. Many schools across the country took exception to these changes, and a number of them re-wrote their own policies to deal with these so-called “non-Title IX” cases.
Cleveland State University was one of them. Under certain circumstances, then, you may be investigated under non-Title IX procedures.
Unfortunately, because these cases aren't covered under federal law, CSU has no obligation to provide you with any particular due process rights. For instance, while you are entitled to an advisor or a support person, you are not entitled to choose an attorney to fill this role. You won't have an opportunity to question the complainant. Perhaps most significant of all, you won't have a chance to defend yourself at a hearing. At CSU, the Investigator is solely responsible for conducting the investigation and deciding whether or not you are responsible.
Whether your case is Title IX or non-Title IX, you face the same sanctions if you're found responsible.
Cleveland State lists several possible punishments for sexual misconduct, including warnings, removal from housing, and probation. However, you should know that the minimum penalty in such cases is almost always suspension. More likely, the school will expel you.
Joseph D. Lento, Sexual Misconduct Attorney
Joseph D. Lento is a Title IX attorney who specializes in university sexual misconduct cases. Over the years, he's represented literally hundreds of clients, defending them from all kinds of charges—verbal harassment to stalking, dating violence to rape. Joseph D. Lento knows the law. He also understands how colleges and universities operate. He's experienced and knows how to navigate the system.
Of course, every case is different. If you're facing non-Title IX charges, for instance, you won't need an attorney to represent you at a hearing since you aren't allowed a hearing. Whatever your circumstances, though, Joseph D. Lento can help. He can negotiate settlements, prepare you for interviews, help you gather and organize evidence, and—in Title IX cases—represent you at your hearing.
Everything is at stake. Don't try to take your school on alone. 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.