In 2020, Virginia instated a law that gave students immunity from discipline for alcohol or drug infractions if they reported incidents of sexual misconduct. This law, meant to encourage more people to report sexual harassment and assault, applied to all public and private schools in the state—except for one.
Lynchburg Senator Steve Newman included a caveat in the 2020 bill that allows the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) to discipline students for substance-related incidents, even if they report a sexual assault. State Delegate Dan Helmer plans to introduce a bill in 2022, removing VMI’s exemption.
This is just one of the many recent incidents that highlight the increasing pressure for schools to enact strong reporting systems for sexual misconduct. While these systems can go a long way in protecting victims, they may also pave the way for false reporting.
The Effects of False Reporting
Reporting systems can streamline sexual misconduct claims in schools, but what about false reports? Being accused of sexual harassment or assault can have devastating effects on your life, including social ostracization, school suspension, lost wages, and emotional anguish. The accused should be “innocent until proven guilty,” but with crimes as serious as sexual assault, even an allegation can turn your life upside down. Most schools won't hesitate to take disciplinary action against students or faculty members accused of misconduct, even with little or no evidence. Suspension is very common.
One former Boston College student, “John Doe,” discovered this the hard way.
From Accused to Victim
Boston College suspended Doe for over a year following a sexual assault accusation—despite evidence that a different student committed the crime. Doe filed a lawsuit against the college and was ultimately awarded $100,000, but even a verdict in his favor couldn't reconcile the academic year Doe lost. This suspension significantly delayed the onset of his law career.
Doe isn't alone; other students have faced similar situations. Victor Zheng was suspended from the University of Virginia for weeks after a false rape allegation, costing him an entire semester of college credits.
Both of these life-altering incidents, and countless others, would not have happened without college reporting systems. We all want sexual assault victims to receive the protections they need, but the current systems are creating another pool of victims.
Title IX Attorney Joseph D. Lento Can Help
False accusations can alter the course of your life, education, and employment. No one should have to go through this. If you're a student or faculty member who has been accused of sexual misconduct, you need a professional to safeguard your rights—and your future. Call the Lento Law Firm. With unparalleled expertise in Title IX law and school-related misconduct cases, attorney Joseph D. Lento can protect your rights and ensure due process is followed. Call 888-555-3686, or use the online form, for a consultation today.