There are very few accusations a college student can face that are as serious as an accusation of sexual misconduct. Someone you know, trusted, maybe even loved, has turned on you. If the charge should become public knowledge, it could follow you around for years, even if you're ultimately found innocent. Your university isn't like to give you the benefit of the doubt, and if it should find you responsible, you are likely facing the end of your academic career.
You don't just need help defending yourself. You need the best possible help you can find. A Title IX attorney like Joseph D. Lento understands the law as it relates to sexual misconduct. They know how colleges and universities operate and are skilled at assembling evidence, drafting documents, and formulating strategies. They can guide you through the process and give you the very best chance of clearing your name and salvaging your future.
Title IX Sexual Misconduct
For over fifty years now, Title IX has served as the primary means by which colleges and universities respond to accusations of sexual misconduct. Title IX is a federal law that prohibits sexual discrimination and harassment in US educational programs. In addition to these general prohibitions, it also contains a strict set of guidelines for how investigations and hearings should proceed. Those guidelines are extremely complex and run to some 550 pages. UND's Title IX Sexual Misconduct Policy offers a useful summary, though.
- Like all schools, UND has a designated Title IX Coordinator. All faculty and staff at the university are required to report any knowledge they may have of sexual misconduct. Only the Coordinator, though, has the power to instigate an official investigation.
- You are entitled to a notice of all charges against you. As part of this notice, you should be told the name of the Complainant (alleged victim) as well as all important details about the allegation itself.
- Title IX provides you, as a Respondent, with a number of important rights, including the right to be presumed “not responsible” (innocent), the right to an attorney-advisor, the right to review the evidence against you, and the right to advanced notification of all meetings and proceedings.
- The Title IX Coordinator is also responsible for appointing an Investigator. This individual should meet regularly with both sides in the case. In addition, they interview any witnesses and collect physical evidence.
- The Investigator is tasked with writing a full summary of their findings once the investigation is complete. This summary should be unbiased, and both sides have the right to request revisions before the document is forwarded to the Coordinator.
- Once the Coordinator receives the Investigative Report, they set a time and date for a live hearing and appoint one or more Decision Makers to oversee the proceedings.
- At the hearing, both sides have an opportunity to present evidence, call witnesses, and make arguments. In addition, both sides may cross-examine each other and any witnesses against them. However, Title IX guidelines require that all cross-examination be conducted by advisors.
- At the conclusion of the hearing, the Decision Maker(s) consider all the evidence and use a legal standard known as “Preponderance of Evidence” to determine the outcome of the case. “Preponderance of Evidence” is far less strict than the more commonly used standard “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt.” In simplest terms, it means Decision Makers must find you responsible if they believe it is “more likely than not” that you committed an offense.
- Both sides have the right to appeal the hearing outcome. However, you must do so within a limited time frame, and you can only do so for certain very specific reasons, including the discovery of new evidence, the revelation of bias on the part of an official or administrator, or procedural error.
Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct
It is worth knowing that not all sexual misconduct allegations are handled under Title IX. That's because of changes to the law made in 2020. Among these changes, the government narrowed the definitions of “discrimination” and “harassment” and limited schools' jurisdictional authority. As a result, Title IX no longer covers some incidents, such as those that occur at off-campus sites.
Many schools, including the University of North Dakota, enacted new policies to address these so-called “non-Title IX” cases. For example, in addition to its Title IX Sexual Misconduct Policy, UND also now has a more general Sexual Misconduct Policy.
However, at least for now, UND's non-Title IX procedures work exactly the same as its Title IX procedures. Respondents are still entitled to a thorough investigation and hearing, they still have important due process rights, and they still have the opportunity to appeal the outcome of the hearing.
How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?
Both processes at UND—Title IX and non-Title IX—provide you with some important protections as a respondent. That hasn't always been the case, and it's definitely a step in the right direction. However, it's not always easy to know how to claim these rights, and it's even tougher to know how to use them effectively to your advantage. For that, you need a Title IX attorney, someone who knows the law and has extensive knowledge of its history and politics.
Joseph D. Lento is a fully-qualified defense attorney. He's not just a defense attorney, though. Joseph D. Lento is what's known as a Title IX attorney. That means he specializes in handling campus sexual misconduct cases. Joseph D. Lento has dedicated his career to fighting for student rights. Over the years, he has handled hundreds of cases for students just like you, making sure they're treated fairly and that they get the justice they deserve.
If you or your child has been accused of sexual misconduct, don't wait to act. The school is already preparing its case. You should be too. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.