Miami University-Oxford: Sexual Misconduct and Title IX Defense

As a student, encountering allegations of sexual misconduct can bear impactful long-term financial, emotional, and social consequences. Sexual misconduct is a general term that includes sexual harassment, sexual violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual exploitation. Institutions across the United States like Miami University are met with severe pressure to investigate sexual misconduct and administer swift justice. This often results in accused students being penalized, suspended, or expelled without having a reasonable opportunity to defend themselves. This article will review the disciplinary process at Miami University, the possible consequences for college sexual misconduct, the appeal process, and explain how an attorney-advisor with experience can help give you, the student, an opportunity for due process.

Title IX, originally passed in 1972, has not changed since that time; however, the understanding of the law has swung, and most recently, the Department of Education issued new guidance. The new guidelines are in response to the hundreds of due process lawsuits asserting legal protections. An example is that the right to question the complainant was often not extended to the respondent.

What Are the New Title IX Guidelines?

On August 14, 2020, the deadline for schools to adhere to new Title IX guidelines, which include almost all positive changes for the respondent; see below:

  • A more difficult threshold for proving sexual misconduct
  • The opportunity to cross-examine your accuser in Title IX hearings
  • A slimmer definition of sexual misconduct
  • Title IX will no longer apply off-campus in most instances
  • Title IX cases will no longer be handled by a single investigator
  • Fewer school employees will be “mandatory reporters” for sexual misconduct
  • Title IX hearings can be carried out by video conference

What Happens When a Complaint is Filed?

To establish a Title IX sexual misconduct violation, the action must have occurred within the United States, and while the accuser was participating in or attempting to participate in an educational program or activity owned or maintained by the university or even Miami University student organizations on campus. At the Miami University-Oxford, the Title IX Coordinator is Ms. Kenya Ash, and the Deputy Title IX Coordinator is Ms. Jaymee Lewis-Flenaugh, and their office specifically handles both Title IX and Non-Title IX sexual misconduct matters.

Miami University includes sexual harassment, sexual violence, dating violence, stalking, and sexual exploitation under both the U.S. Department of Education's Title IX regulations (34 C.F.R. Part 106) and allegations that fall under Miami University's Code of Student Conduct and any adjudicated violation of criminal sex offense in Ohio.

What Happens When a Complaint is Filed?

After receiving the formal complaint, the Title IX Coordinator or designee for Miami University will review the request of the accuser to either follow the investigative resolution process or the adaptable resolution process. In the following order, the investigative resolution includes:

  1. An investigation by the Title IX Investigator or designee resulting in a written report
  2. A hearing to determine if there has been a policy violation
  3. Issuance of sanctions or other appropriate solutions, if need be, and
  4. The opportunity to appeal both the interpretation of the evidence and the resulting sanction.

In contrast, the adaptable resolution is coordinated through the Office of the Dean of Students (“DOS”) and includes facilitated, structured, and adaptable processes. Adaptable Resolution was created to eradicate the barred conduct, prevent its recurrence, and impact its potential negative effects while maintaining the safety of the campus community. The adaptable resolution does not include an investigation or hearing. Whether investigative or adaptable, the burden of proof and investigation rests with the institution, Miami University.

Investigative Resolution

After delivery of the formal complaint the following conditions are weighed:

  • Availability of other information to support or refute the complaint
  • The number of other complaints made regarding the accused
  • Severity of the alleged act or violation (including the use of illicit substances, weapons, multiple accused parties, etc.)
  • Safety of the complainant and the respondent
  • The risk of the possible additional violations by the respondent

Hearing Process

If the investigation results in a hearing, both parties will receive a Notice of Hearing at least ten business days prior to the hearing. The notice will include, at minimum, the following:

  • The behavior constituting Title IX or Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct and the specific sections of the Code of Students Conduct that were violated
  • A copy of the Code of Student Conduct
  • The potential sanction(s) which Miami University-Oxford may institute following any determination of responsibility
  • A statement that the student may be accompanied throughout the process by an advisor of their choice who may be an attorney
  • A statement informing the parties that it is a violation of the “Dishonesty” section of the code to knowledgeably make false statements or knowledgeably submitting false information during the investigation or any resulting process under this code
  • A statement that the parties may request to review evidence
  • Informing both parties that they may delay the process within a limited extension of time frames, which may include the absence of either party, a party's advisor, or witnesses, concurrent law enforcement activity, or the accommodation for disabilities.

What Are Possible Sanctions?

The entire Title IX or Non-Title IX sexual misconduct investigations at the Miami University-Oxford can extend from 30 to 120 days. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board will provide written notification of the outcome to all parties, which will include an explanation of the determination of responsibility, sanctions, and/or remedies of the respondent and complainant. If sanctions are issued at the conclusion of the hearing, possible outcomes are expulsion from campus housing, dismissal, suspension (at varying lengths of time depending on the severity and other factors), educational intervention, no-contact orders, and/or restrictions from participating in intercollegiate athletics or co-curricular activities. All parties will have the opportunity to appeal. They must submit this request in writing within five (5) business days of the outcome of the hearing.

What Does an Appeal Require?

Appeals must meet at least one of the following qualifications:

  • A conflict of interest or bias exists on the part of the investigator, board members, or Title IX coordinator
  • Inappropriate sanction
  • A technical irregularity in the hearing that is found to be substantial enough to have impacted the outcome of the hearing
  • New information exists that was not available during the hearing

A decision or sanction becomes final when all parties are sent the outcome of an appeal or when no appeal is filed by the deadline.

Experienced Title IX Attorney Advisor to Fight by Your Side

An allegation of sexual misconduct can result in sustained and impactful consequences for the accused student not only for their educational career but their professional career and personal life, as well. Even more, the stigma attached to the student's name may follow them for years regardless of guilt, innocence, or even exoneration.

If you are facing Title IX or College Sexual Misconduct allegations at Miami University-Oxford, you want an experienced advisor to assist you during the process. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have spent many years helping students and families across the nation defend their rights to a fair proceeding. He has successfully negotiated complex and sensitive cases with high stakes for undergraduate, graduate, and professional level students, as well as faculty and staff at universities. If you'd like to find an advisor with both dedication and experience, attorney Joseph D. Lento is the best person to have on your side. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888.535.3686 or reach out online to see how they can assist.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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