A college or university charging a student with sexual misconduct typically takes on certain obligations to the accused student, not to mention the accuser. Those obligations, when the school diligently carries them out, can help the accused student immensely in understanding the charges and defeating false, exaggerated, and unfair charges. Why does a school take on those obligations, and what are they? Learn here what protections and procedures national academic attorney Joseph Lento invokes and relies on to help students nationwide when accused of college sexual misconduct.
What Are the Sources of School Obligations?
Title IX's Influence. A school alleging a student's Title IX sexual misconduct has a host of statutory and regulatory obligations with which to comply if the school is to maintain its federal funding. Those statutory and regulatory obligations, including rights important to the accused student, like the right to have an attorney cross-examine all witnesses at a live hearing, do not extend to non-Title IX sexual misconduct under a college sexual misconduct policy reaching student behaviors beyond Title IX. Yet the fact that Title IX obligates the school to protect the accused student to some degree in Title IX matters influences some schools to extend those same obligations to accused students facing non-Title IX allegations.
Fundamental Due Process. Public colleges and universities owe students constitutional due process when affecting their important rights, such as when charging a student with college sexual misconduct, the sanction for which may be expulsion. While due process is a flexible concept that would not require court trial-like procedures in a college or university's administrative setting, due process does require the school to, at a minimum, provide the accused student with fair notice of the charges, some view of the evidence against the student, and an opportunity for the student to tell the student's side of the story before a fair decision-maker.
Contractual and Policy Obligations. Public and private colleges and universities are also entering into contracts with their students for educational opportunities and services. The policies that a school adopts, whether for convenience or efficiency, or in fairness to an accused student, can become one of those express or implied contract terms. An institution should not take a student's tuition money and then arbitrarily or capriciously dismiss the student without providing the paid-for opportunity and educational services. Colleges and universities rightly tend to honor their policy commitments to students, believing themselves bound by promise and fairness.
Other Motivations. Beyond those laws and policies, schools have other good reasons to afford the accused student certain rights, opportunities, and protective procedures. Schools value student retention, both because of their educational mission and economics. Every student retained, such as one falsely or unfairly accused of sexual misconduct, is another student paying tuition to the school's teaching honor and bottom-line credit. Schools are also supposed to be reasoning, ethical, and moral institutions. Assuming protective procedures toward accused students is a high moral stance. After all, some accusations are false, unfair, or misdirected. Innocent until proven guilty is a bedrock national commitment.
What Is the Nature of School Obligations?
Title IX-Related Obligations. What, though, are the common obligations that a college or university owes or assumes toward a student whom the institution charges with sexual misconduct? Most colleges and universities maintain separate, less-protective procedures for resolving non-Title IX sexual misconduct charges than for Title IX charges. But as indicated above, some schools, whether for uniformity or out of fairness, do extend Title IX protections to students accused of non-Title IX sexual misconduct. New Title IX regulatory protections have those protective procedures include, among other things, the accused student's right to:
- review the evidence case file compiled by the school's investigators;
- review and respond to the school's investigative report;
- retain an attorney to question all witnesses at a live hearing;
- have the student's attorney cross-examine adverse witnesses;
- exclude the statement of any witness failing or refusing to testify at hearing;
- have the hearing officers consider only the testimony of live witnesses.
Fundamental Due Process. Again, most colleges and universities have not extended the new Title IX protections to students accused of non-Title IX sexual misconduct. Instead, those colleges and universities will follow less-protective procedures that nonetheless arguably meet due process's fundamental fairness. Those fundamental procedures common to most or all schools include the accused student's right to:
- receive in writing the school's formal complaint detailing the alleged sexual misconduct violations;
- receive the school's notice of the procedures available to the student to contest the charges;
- present to the school's investigators any exonerating evidence, including exhibits and names and statements of witnesses;
- appear at an administrative conference or meeting, or formal hearing, to tell the accused student's side of the story;
- timely receive the school's written decision on the charges from an unbiased decision-maker.
Contractual and Policy Obligations. Beyond the above fundamental procedures, many colleges and universities commit through stated policies to provide the student accused of non-Title IX sexual misconduct with these additional protective measures:
- permit the student to retain an attorney advisor to attend any conferences or hearings, even if not to participate directly, such as by questioning witnesses;
- permit the student and student's attorney advisor to review and supplement the investigator's case file;
- permit the student with the help of the student's attorney advisor to review and respond to the investigation report;
- provide the student with a student or staff advisor to explain the student's rights and school's procedures;
- permit the student to challenge and remove the investigator or hearing officers for evident bias; and
- permit the student to appeal an adverse decision and the sanction to another school board or official.
Retain a National College Sexual Misconduct Attorney Advisor
You can see that the above obligations that colleges and universities routinely accept when accusing students of non-Title IX sexual misconduct create substantial opportunities for skilled counsel to help an accused student successfully contest false, exaggerated, and unfair sexual misconduct charges. National college sexual misconduct advisor Joseph Lento helps hundreds of students nationwide defeat those charges. Retain attorney Lento to, among many other things:
- research, confirm, and invoke the school's protective procedures;
- communicate promptly and firmly with officials conducting the proceeding;
- identify, gather, organize, and present exonerating and mitigating evidence;
- review, evaluate, and supplement investigation case files;
- review, evaluate, and respond to investigation reports;
- attend meetings, conferences, and hearings, advising the student;
- negotiate informal resolutions for dismissal or conditional dismissal;
- question and cross-examine witnesses when permitted;
- draft and submit statements, summaries, presentations, and arguments;
- evaluate, prepare, and present appeals of any adverse decision.
You can trust national college sexual misconduct advisor Joseph D. Lento to take these and other effective actions on your behalf because he commits his premier law practice to representing students accused of college sexual misconduct across the United States. His representation strategically levels your playing field so that you can defeat false, exaggerated, and unfair charges. Retain national academic attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm today by calling 888.535.3686 or completing the online form.