Sexual Misconduct Accusations at Valdosta State University

You've seen it on the news, so you know: university sexual misconduct cases are a big deal. If you should find yourself facing charges, you absolutely must take those charges seriously.

What does taking it seriously mean?

First, it means finding out everything you can about your case.

  • Who has accused you?
  • What is it they've said you've done?
  • What will an investigation look like?
  • What kind of chance will you have to defend yourself?
  • What rights do you have during this process?

Second, it means making sure you have help defending yourself. Your accuser will almost certainly have an attorney. The school will likely retain counsel as well. As you'll see, these cases are complex, and you can't afford to take chances trying to handle one on your own.

Title IX and Sexual Misconduct

Valdosta State University treats most sexual misconduct cases as Title IX cases. What does that mean, exactly? Title IX is a federal law passed in 1972 that prohibits sexual discrimination and harassment on college campuses. In addition to holding schools responsible for their own behaviors, the law also mandates that schools hold their students responsible for their behaviors. In addition, Title IX offers a set of guidelines that dictate how schools should go about doing this.

As VSU's own Sexual Misconduct and Title IX Policy notes, this means all investigations and hearings are conducted in the same basic way.

  • All cases are handled by Valdosta State's Title IX Coordinator. Anyone at the school may report knowledge of sexual misconduct. However, only a Complainant (alleged victim) or the Coordinator can sign an official complaint against you.
  • If the Coordinator decides to open an investigation, they must provide you with a Notice of the Charges. This notice should include details about the allegation as well as the name of the Complainant.
  • Additionally, Title IX provides you with several other due process rights. These will be spelled out in the Notice of Charges.
    • The right to equal treatment to the Complainant in all matters
    • The right to an advisor, who may be an attorney
    • The right to a presumption of Not Responsible (innocent) until proven Responsible
    • The right to review all evidence in the case
    • The right to advanced notification of all meetings and hearings
    • The right to investigators and decision-makers who are free of bias
  • The Coordinator's next job is to assign an Investigator to the case. The Investigator typically starts by interviewing both sides. In addition, they gather any physical evidence and collect witness testimony.
  • When the investigation is complete, the Investigator submits an unbiased summary of their findings. Both sides in the case have ten days to raise objections to anything in this document before it is forwarded to the Title IX Coordinator.
  • Once the Coordinator has the final draft of the Investigative Report, they set a time and date for a formal hearing into the matter. In addition, they appoint a panel of decision-makers to hear the case.
  • The hearing offers you an opportunity to make arguments, present evidence, and call witnesses to testify on your behalf. In addition, you have the right—through your attorney—to cross-examine the Complainant and any other witnesses against you. Of course, the Complainant has the same rights in presenting their case against you.
  • After both sides have presented their cases, decision-makers must determine whether or not you are responsible for a violation. In making this decision, they rely on a legal standard known as “Preponderance of Evidence.” In simple terms, this standard requires they find you Responsible if they believe it is “more likely than not” that you committed an offense.
  • Finally, you have the right to an official Notice of the Outcome of the hearing, and you further have the right to appeal this outcome. However, you have just five days in which to file this appeal, and grounds for appeal are strictly limited to
    • the discovery of new evidence that has a direct bearing on the case outcome
    • procedural errors that may have affected the outcome
    • bias on the part of a Title IX official

Non-Title IX Cases

Since 2020, some Valdosta State sexual misconduct cases have been designated “Non-Title IX cases.” Here's why: The law itself changed in 2020. Among these changes, the federal government stated that off-campus incidents would no longer be investigated. Like many other schools, VSU worried that this might allow some misconduct to slip through the cracks. In response, it rewrote its own policy and created its own procedures for dealing with such incidents.

For the most part, VSU's Title IX and non-Title IX procedures resemble one another. For instance, both processes include an investigation and a hearing. Both allow you to choose an advisor who may be a lawyer. Both give you the right to be considered “Not Responsible” until proven “Responsible.”

There are some subtle differences, however. The most important of these has to do with how questions are asked during the hearings. In Title IX hearings, advisors conduct all cross-examination. In non-Title IX hearings, on the other hand, questions are submitted to decision-makers who actually do the asking.

How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?

It is no exaggeration to say that everything is on the line in a sexual misconduct case. The minimum penalty in these cases is almost always suspension. The more likely penalty is expulsion. Expulsion often comes with a transcript notation about the nature of your offense, a notation that could keep you from enrolling anywhere else. In simple terms, your academic career could effectively be over if you should lose your case.

Don't risk it. Make sure you have the right advisor at your side.

Joseph D. Lento is a fully-licensed, fully-qualified defense attorney. He's not just a defense attorney, though. Joseph D. Lento is what's known as a Title IX attorney. What does that mean? It means Joseph D. Lento built his career defending students just like you from sexual misconduct charges. He has studied the law and knows it inside and out. It means Joseph D. Lento knows how schools operate. He knows the tactics they often use, and he knows how to counter those tactics. Most importantly, though, it means Joseph D. Lento is on your side. He understands what you're going through, and he'll do everything he can to make sure you're treated fairly and that you get the best possible resolution to your case.

If you or your child has been accused of sexual misconduct, don't wait to see what the school or the other side will do. Begin building your case now. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.

Contact Us Today!

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.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.