Sexual misconduct is among the most serious accusations any college student can face. How serious is it? The minimum penalty in such cases is usually suspension. Far more often, schools expel students who are found responsible for policy violations. Your school can't actually send you to prison, but expulsion can mean the end of your academic career, and that's almost as bad.
The good news is, you don't have to handle an allegation all by yourself. In most cases, you're entitled to an advisor, someone to help you prepare your case and to represent you at official proceedings. Even better, that advisor can be an attorney. Make the most of this right. Choose an attorney who understands how sexual misconduct cases work and who has experience helping students defend themselves. Choose Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento.
Title IX and Sexual Misconduct
Most sexual misconduct cases at Arkansas Tech University are Title IX cases, so preparing for your case begins with a basic understanding of what Title IX is and how it operates.
Title IX is a federal law passed in 1972. It prohibits all forms of sexual discrimination and harassment on college and university campuses. In addition, it provides a strict set of guidelines for how schools must go about investigating and adjudicating all allegations.
Title IX isn't perfect, but it does offer respondents (accused students) a number of important rights. Many of these are outlined in Arkansas Tech's Sexual Misconduct Policies and Procedures. Here's a brief summary of what you can expect from the process.
- All schools must maintain a Title IX Coordinator. Anyone at Arkansas Tech University may report you for a violation, but only a Complainant (alleged victim) or the Coordinator may sign an official complaint against you.
- When an official complaint is opened, the school must provide you with a written Notice of the Charges. This Notice must provide you with the name of the Complainant as well as a description of the allegation itself. In addition, it should make you aware of all your rights as a Respondent. Among these, you have:
- The right to an advisor, who may be an attorney
- The right to be presumed “Not Responsible” (innocent)
- The right to advanced notice of any and all meetings or proceedings
- The right to be treated equally to the Complainant
- The right to review all evidence in the case
- The Coordinator appoints an Investigator to assemble the facts of the case.
- The Investigator meets with both sides and listens to both versions of events. In addition, they collect any physical evidence and interview witnesses.
- Once they've concluded the investigation, the Investigator completes a written summary of their work. This summary is meant to be an unbiased document, and both sides have the right to review it and to make revision suggestions before it is forwarded to the Coordinator.
- Having received the Investigative Report, the Coordinator sets a time and date for a live hearing before the school's Sexual Misconduct Hearing Board.
- Both sides have an opportunity to present their cases at the hearing. You may offer arguments, present evidence, and call witnesses to testify. In addition, you may—through your advisors—cross-examine one another and any witnesses against you.
- At the conclusion of the hearing, the Hearing Board determines your level of responsibility based on a majority vote. In making their decision, members employ what's known as the “Preponderance of Evidence” legal standard. Basically, they must find you responsible if they believe it is more than fifty percent likely you committed an offense.
- You may appeal the Board's decision. However, you must do so within seven business days, and there are only two grounds for appeal: the discovery of new evidence or proof that the Board failed to follow appropriate hearing procedures. In addition, you should know that, should you be found Not Responsible, the Complainant has the right to appeal the decision under the same terms.
Not every case is a Title IX case. As a result of some key 2020 changes, off-campus incidents are no longer covered under the law. That does not mean that they aren't subject to investigation and adjudication. Instead, Arkansas Tech uses its own school policy to handle these so-called “Non-Title IX” cases.
Because Non-Title IX cases aren't covered under the law, schools are free to use any procedures they choose, and they aren't required to provide respondents with any particular due process rights. Luckily, however, Arkansas Tech's non-Title IX procedures—known as Process B in the Arkansas Tech Student Handbook—are virtually the same as the mandated Title IX procedures. You are still subject to both an investigation and a hearing, and you still have all of the same basic due process rights you have under Title IX.
How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?
If you've been charged with sexual misconduct, you might be tempted to hire a family or local attorney to represent you. Often students feel more comfortable talking about their personal lives with familiar faces. Unfortunately, these attorneys just don't have the qualifications or background to handle Title IX cases. Title IX is difficult to navigate. The law itself runs to some 550 pages, and that doesn't include Arkansas Tech's own rules for how it implements the law.
More importantly, too much is at stake to trust your case to anyone who doesn't know Title IX inside and out.
Joseph D. Lento built his career defending students just like you from sexual misconduct charges. Joseph D. Lento knows the law. He's studied the statute and knows the procedures. In addition, Joseph D. Lento knows how schools operate. He knows the tactics they use, and he knows how to fight those tactics. Most importantly, though, Joseph D. Lento is on your side. He understands what you're going through, and he stands ready to do anything 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 act. The longer you wait, the more time your school has to build its case against you. For more information or to find out how we can help, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686, or use our automated online form.