Being accused of a sexual assault can single-handedly destroy a student's college career and hinder future opportunities. Taking the right steps when accused of such serious allegations is essential in determining the outcome of a respondent's case.
If you are a college student who has been accused of a sexual assault, here are a few tips as to how you should proceed in the aftermath of these allegations:
Reference the School's Code of Conduct
Every higher education institution provides a student code of conduct. It details school guidelines that attending students are required to adhere to. Within this code, there should be information regarding the school's individualized sexual assault, sexual harassment and Title IX policy. The policy information provided will lay out exactly how the school mitigates and governs reports of sexual misconduct.
It's crucial for a person who is accused of sexual assault to thoroughly read his or her's school code of conduct to fully comprehend how the process of handling a claim is ensued by college authorities. Also, reading these rules will give the accused an idea of what to expect throughout this process - an important element when making preparations for a hearing.
But more importantly, it's imperative to have a coherent understanding of these rules to notice if any of them are being violated by the school's administration. Oftentimes, it's been discovered that school administrators are unaware of the rules or choose to blatantly disregard them when handling a sexual assault case. Knowing the rules is a surefire method of ensuring that you are treated fairly throughout the whole process.
It's pretty safe to assume that most college students utilize some form of technology to communicate. Whether these interactions are occurring through Facebook messages, on Twitter, through DMs on Instagram or simply through text message, these communications can prove to be critical in your case. Respondents are encouraged to save and screenshot any messages, pictures or any other type of evidence that may be relevant to his or her case.
Saving proof of electronic communication doesn't necessarily have to be limited to interactions between you and an accuser. Finding information that describes the mood or course of events around the time the alleged assault occurred could also be helpful.
This step is especially important when communicating with school administrators. Each time you converse with these authorities face to face or through e-mail, provide a rundown of what they told you to make sure that each party has a mutual understanding of what was said. It's fairly easy for conflicting accounts of what was said to result in a game of ‘he said, she said.' This is why it's important for respondents to document every single interaction that ensues.
Write a Statement
There will come a point in the process when the accused will be required to write a statement. It's imperative that every single sentence in this statement is accurate and true to your account of the alleged assault. If an authority presiding over a hearing somehow proves that the information in your statement is off, every detail mentioned in this statement will be discredited. And in turn, school administrators are more inclined to focus on if you are lying than if you have actually committed the actions listed in the allegations.
You may feel as if including all of the personal details of what actually occurred in a statement unnecessary or embarrassing, and it's normal to feel that way. However, in situations like this when the stakes are so high, it is suggested that respondents disclose every single thing that happened.