A sexual misconduct allegation almost always comes as a shock. Someone you know and trusted, maybe even loved, has accused you of doing something terrible. That in itself is upsetting. You don't know why they've accused you; you don't know what to expect next; you don't know how to go about defending yourself. It's easy to get overwhelmed quickly in this situation.
So, if your college or university has leveled charges against you, the very first thing you should do is take a deep breath and let it out. You can get through this. Even better: you don't have to do it alone. There are people out there who can help you navigate this crisis.
It's important you know that, while you're facing a serious charge, you do have rights. One of these is the right to an advisor, who may be an attorney. A qualified, experienced Title IX attorney can help you make sense of the charges, gather evidence, and defend yourself. Ultimately, they can make sure that you get a fair hearing and the very best possible resolution to your case.
You're facing an uphill battle, but with help, you can make it.
Title IX and Sexual Misconduct
All sexual misconduct cases at Marquette University are ultimately subject to rules and procedures set down under the federal government's Title IX statute. Title IX, passed in 1972, prohibits all forms of sexual discrimination and harassment on college campuses. In addition, it contains a set of guidelines for how schools should handle all investigations and adjudications.
Marquette offers its own interpretation of these guidelines in its Sexual Harassment and Sex Discrimination Policy. That document runs to 77 pages, and you'll need an attorney to help you interpret all of it. Here's a brief outline of what you can expect, though.
- All colleges and universities have a designated Title IX Coordinator. Anyone at the school may report you if they suspect you've committed a sexually-based offense. In fact, at MU, faculty are required to report any knowledge they may have about misconduct. However, only a Complainant (alleged victim) or the Coordinator may sign a formal complaint against you. This offers some protection from spurious allegations.
- You have a number of other protections under Title IX as well. For one thing, you're entitled to written notification of any charges filed against you. That notification must include the name of the Complainant as well as details about the allegation, information that can be crucial to preparing your defense. You also have the right to be treated as “Not Responsible” (innocent) until proven “Responsible” (guilty); you have the right to review all evidence in the case; and you have the right to unbiased investigators and decision-makers.
- Once they've issued a Notice of Charges, the Coordinator appoints an Investigator to the case.
- Investigators typically begin by meeting separately with both parties. In addition, they are responsible for gathering any physical evidence and for interviewing potential witnesses.
- Title IX notes that investigations must be completed in a timely fashion. MU doesn't set a time limit on investigations, but it does set a time limit on the case as a whole of 90 days.
- At the conclusion of the investigation, the Investigator submits an unbiased written summary of their findings. Both sides have the right to review this document and to suggest revisions.
- The final Investigative Report is ultimately forwarded to the Title IX Coordinator. The Coordinator sets a time and date for a live hearing. In addition, they appoint one or more Decision-Makers to oversee the proceedings.
- At the hearing, you have an opportunity to present your entire case, including arguments, evidence, and witness testimony. The Complainant has the same opportunity. In addition, you may—through your advisors—cross-examine one another and any witnesses against you.
- Once the hearing is complete, the Decision-Maker(s) come to a decision regarding whether or not you are responsible for a violation. In arriving at this decision, they are required to use a legal standard known as “Preponderance of Evidence.” Less strict than “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt,” this standard requires they find you responsible if they are more than fifty percent convinced you committed an offense.
- You have the right to appeal the hearing outcome. However, appeals must be filed within five days of receiving Notification of the Outcome, and grounds for appeal are strictly limited to
- Procedural irregularity
- New evidence that has a bearing on the outcome
- Conflict of interest on the part of a Title IX official
Finally, you should know that not all sexual misconduct cases at Marquette University are Title IX cases. Since 2020, allegations that have to do with off-campus incidents are no longer covered under the law. However, MU is still fully committed to investigating and adjudicating these so-called “Non-Title IX” accusations. It does so using almost exactly the same procedures as outlined under Title IX.
The only exception has to do with the role advisors play during hearings. As detailed above, Title IX requires advisors conduct all witness examinations. In fact, if you do not have an advisor, the school must appoint one for you to handle this part of the hearing. In non-Title IX cases, however, you must conduct examinations yourself.
How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?
By this point, you should already have some idea of why you need help with your sexual misconduct case. Procedures are complex, and it's no exaggeration to say that everything is at stake. If you should lose your case, the minimum penalty is suspension. The more likely penalty is expulsion.
Joseph D. Lento can help.
Joseph D. Lento is a fully-qualified defense attorney, but he's not just a defense attorney. He's what's known as a Title IX attorney. What does that mean? Joseph D. Lento built his career defending students just like you from sexual misconduct charges. He knows the law. He's studied the Title IX statute and is comfortable working under both Title IX and non-Title IX procedures. In addition, Joseph D. Lento knows how schools operate. He knows the tactics they use, and he has experience fighting those tactics. Most importantly, though, Joseph D. Lento is on your side. He understands what you're going through, and he'll do everything he can to make sure you're treated fairly and that you get the best possible resolution to your case.
If you or your child has been accused of sexual misconduct, make sure you have the best legal representation you can find. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.