A recent report from the Louisiana State University school newspaper gave a timeline of sexual misconduct cases and allegations involving LSU football players, from 2011-2020. For most of the student-athletes, charges against them were either lessened or dropped, and many continued to play football at LSU, transfer to another school to play football, or joined the NFL. One of these athletes, however, ended up withdrawing from the university and no longer being on the team.
LSU came under fire recently when USA Today got a hold of a 2018 Title IX report, which detailed systematic negligence on the part of the university's athletics department to handle Title IX cases properly. An independent law firm is doing an investigation, which should finish by February 2021.
Sexual Misconduct and Athletic Organizations
Students who belong to groups, such as athletic teams, might feel that they have some layer of “protection” when they're accused of sexual misconduct. This false sense of security could emanate from two places:
- Athletes on a high-profile college sports team, such as the LSU football team, might feel they're above reproach and that the university is more interested in their athletic success than with prosecuting Title IX offenses (as it appears happened at LSU).
- If they're part of a group or team, students might be less concerned about being singled out by Title IX processes, especially if they're not the first member of the group or team to have been accused.
The truth is, no matter how a university handles or mishandles a Title IX case, a sexual misconduct accusation will always have repercussions for students. For high-profile student-athletes with their names in the media often, even an accusation is enough to soil their reputation.
Being part of a team can have its drawbacks when it comes to Title IX as well. If one member of the team is accused of sexual misconduct, it seems easier to accuse another because they're both associated with the same team. Universities should treat each Title IX case individually, giving the accuser and accused a fair chance. Unfortunately, universities might lump student-athletes of the same team together, presuming guilt and not allowing due process because one individual is associated with another accused student.
Consulting a Title IX Defense Attorney Advisor
To make sure a university follows Title IX procedures properly, accused students should always seek the advice of an experienced, legal student defense attorney advisor. Students facing sexual misconduct allegations can consult an attorney throughout the process. A university might rule in favor of the accuser without giving the accused a chance to argue their side, to appear compliant with Title IX regulations, and avoid losing funding.
When universities handle Title IX cases inconsistently, as it seems LSU has, it can leave students in a conundrum. How can any student expect justice when a university doesn't follow its own rules?
Student defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm can help protect your rights if you're facing a sexual misconduct accusation at your college or university. Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 to speak directly with an experienced Title IX lawyer.