Cases of alleged sexual misconduct are extremely delicate. It is imperative that all parties give the accuser the benefit of the doubt, helping them access medical care and other counseling. Nevertheless, the accused have rights, too.
It's easy for some to ignore the rights of the accused. This is especially true when you read stories like the recently reported case of former LSU graduate student Edouard d’Espalungue d’Arros.
A French native student attending graduate school at Louisiana State University, d'Espalungue was charged with third-degree rape in 2018. A grand jury indicted the accused on charges of third-degree rape in February 2021. However, d'Espalungue had been permitted to visit France while awaiting trial and never returned to the United States.
A total of seven women have accused d'Espalungue of sexual misconduct, with at least two of them pursuing criminal complaints. If there were ever cases warranting Title IX investigations, those involving Edouard d'Espalungue d'Arros fit the bill.
Stories of mishandled allegations are a disservice to victims of sexual misdeeds, to be certain. Bungled cases also do those who are falsely accused a major disservice. Some readers may assume that every student accused of sexual misconduct fits the profile of d'Espalungue—they don't.
It Appears That LSU Mishandled Allegations of Sexual Misconduct
Did LSU administrators proceed appropriately in the case of Edouard d'Espalungue d'Arros? Accusers say no.
Details from a lawsuit filed against the university state that the school never launched a Title IX investigation into the accusations against d'Espalungue. Plaintiffs allege that LSU failed to conduct even a cursory probe despite the accused facing numerous complaints.
Taking these allegations at face value, LSU's Title IX office did not uphold its mandate. The subsequent indictment and flight of d'Espalungue only makes the inaction of Title IX officers appear more egregious.
Allegations against both d'Espalungue and LSU are serious. If Title IX officials failed to protect any person as their training warrants, then they should face fair ramifications. Accusers should receive damages for any harm that they have suffered.
That being said, my perspective is that of a student discipline defense advisor. I can't help but see both sides of this case.
Students Accused of Sexual Misconduct Do Have Rights
Those who might ask incredulously how LSU didn't expel d'Espalungue after the first accusation of wrongdoing miss this fact: Students accused of wrongdoing—even heinous acts—have rights.
Universities must honor the rights of both accuser and accused when it comes to sexual misconduct. If accusations warrant it, a school may take interim actions to protect the accused. In the case of d'Espalungue, such actions may have been warranted.
Yet, the accused have a right to due process. They have a right to defend themselves, present exculpatory evidence, and question the credibility of their accusers when appropriate. Even someone such as Edouard d'Espalungue d'Arros has rights under Title IX regulations.
Title IX regulations are, for the most part, straightforward. Schools must follow these regulations—it's federal law. Failure to follow Title IX regulations leaves both accuser and accused without a resolution and can cause disastrous outcomes like those seen in the LSU case.
International Students Need a Title IX Attorney-Advisor
Some have suggested that international students are disadvantaged by Title IX regulations. Language barriers and preexisting biases can put international students at risk of unfair sanctions. Attorney Joseph D. Lento works to ensure due process for every client.
If you are a domestic or international student facing allegations of sexual misconduct, call the Lento Law Firm for help at 888-535-3686 or submit your case online.