Sexual misconduct is perhaps the most discussed—and most contentious—issue for universities and residency programs today. No professional field is free from issues of sexual misconduct, and medical residents must know how to respond to an allegation of sexual impropriety.
If there is any issue you need an attorney for, it's an allegation of sexual misconduct. Few allegations have the capacity to disrupt your future like those of a sexual nature. Protect your future right now by hiring an experienced attorney-advisor for your defense.
Residency programs may be wont to side with an accuser—the perception of insensitivity towards victims of sexual assault is a grave concern in the age of social media. Without an attorney-advisor, you may risk a violation of your right to due process.
What Qualifies as Sexual Misconduct in a Residency Setting?
In response to sweeping social movements, residency programs may be as broad as ever when defining sexual misconduct. What may not have been categorized as improper behavior even a decade ago may qualify you for firing from your residency program today.
The list of sexual indiscretions that count as misconduct in residency may mirror those outlined by Title IX. Some acts that may lead to discipline from your residency program include:
- Unwanted touching
- Sexual assault
- Inappropriate comments of a sexual or suggestive nature
- Sex-based discrimination
- Domestic violence
- Use of the “date rape” drug
- Sexual harassment
- Inappropriate sexual propositioning
- Publishing pornographic videos without a party's consent
- Sexual coercion
- Statutory rape
Your residency program may offer literature detailing its policies on sexual misconduct. That literature may list specific acts that qualify as sexual misconduct. You may also find in those documents how your school handles claims of sexual misconduct.
How Residency Programs Adjudicate Sexual Misconduct Claims
As a resident, you may face a similar adjudication process as a medical student facing a claim of sexual wrongdoing. The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai presents a sample for how residency programs may adjudicate sexual misconduct claims:
When someone reports an allegation of sexual misconduct, the school provides supportive measures that ensure the safety of the accusing party. However, these measures “shall not be punitive or disciplinary against any party .”Supportive measures may include:
- A No Contact order
- Implementation of a schedule that allows the accuser and accused to fulfill their daily responsibilities without coming into contact
- Assistance from a Title IX Coordinator
- Other measures specific to the allegation in question
To emphasize, these measures must be non-punitive. If your residency program issues punitive measures without first allowing you due process, it has violated your rights.
Next, a Title IX Coordinator at the Icahn School of Medicine assesses the claim of sexual wrongdoing. The Coordinator may ask the accuser whether they'd like to pursue further action against the accused. The Title IX Coordinator may have final discretion over whether to initiate a formal investigation into the allegation.
An investigation may generally involve interviews with the accuser and accused, interviews with witnesses, and the collection of evidence. The investigator may collect relevant records from law enforcement. The investigator may also review the accused's history to see if they've been responsible for sexual impropriety before.
During the investigation phase, both the accuser and accused may have the chance to agree to an informal resolution. If no resolution arises, then the investigator will eventually provide a Report of Investigation (ROI) to the accuser and accused. Both parties will have the chance to respond to the ROI, requesting any corrections that they see fit.
The Icahn School of Medicine settles allegations for sexual misconduct through arbitration. A Designated Arbiter—ideally a neutral party—will issue a decision of responsibility based on the “preponderance of the evidence” standard. This standard does not generally favor the accused, as it has a lower threshold for guilt than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal proceedings. All parties can have an attorney-advisor with them during arbitration.
This is just one example of how a residency program might adjudicate a claim of misconduct. Your residency program may follow a similar framework.
Sanctions You May Face for Sexual Misconduct
Residency programs take allegations of sexual misconduct extremely seriously—as they should.
If you're found culpable for sexual misconduct, you may:
- Be suspended from your residency program
- Be fired from your residency program
- Be prohibited from re-enrolling in your residency program
- Have immense difficulty enrolling in another residency program
- Lose your opportunity to practice medicine
- Suffer great personal and financial hardship
If your residency program decides you've violated its rules on sexual integrity, it won't think twice about disciplining you. This is the risk of taking an earnest approach to sexual misconduct—it may lead a residency program to discipline a resident unjustly. If there is any question that you've committed an act of sexual indecency, you may be dismissed from your program.
Appealing a Ruling of Sexual Misconduct
Though adjudication processes can vary significantly, most residency programs offer some form of appeal. This is especially true when a resident faces firing.
Appeals processes differ from one residency program to the next. An attorney-advisor will request an appeal as soon as possible. An appeal board may find flaws in your original adjudication process. Such a finding could trigger a reversal of an adverse decision.
Your attorney-advisor may also contact the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) for your residency program. The OGC may be a willing negotiator, agreeing to a resolution that better serves you than the original ruling. The OGC's ruling may serve as the final word on your case.
Hire an Experienced Attorney-Advisor for a Residency Sexual Misconduct Issue
Most Americans know how stigmatizing allegations of sexual wrongdoing are. A mere accusation can paint an innocent person as a predator. As a medical resident, a baseless allegation of sexual misconduct—or a single error in judgment—can wipe out all of your academic and professional progress, eviscerating your reputation too.
Findings published in the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics suggest that sexual misconduct does occur in residency programs. Just because sexual misconduct happens, though, doesn't mean that you should be assumed guilty.
Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento fights for medical residents accused of sexual wrongdoing. He and his team will spearhead your defense. You can focus on existing responsibilities. Let us work hard to clear your name. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.