Sexual misconduct accusations are serious business. In today's political climate, no college or university can afford to look soft on offenders, so your school will likely do everything it can to find you “Responsible” (guilty) if you're accused, and it will almost certainly punish you with the harshest penalties. Typically, the minimum sanction in such cases is suspension. The more likely sanction is expulsion.
There is some good news, though. Changes to the law in 2020 gave respondents (the accused) some important new due process rights. You have the right to be presumed “Not Responsible,” for instance; you have the right to review all evidence against you; you even have the right to cross-examine your accuser.
Your most important right, though? The right to an advisor, who may be an attorney. Sexual misconduct cases are complicated. You do have a lot of rights, but often you have to insist on them, and it's not always easy to know how to use them effectively. With everything at stake, you can't afford to handle your case on your own. So, learn all you can about your situation. After all, knowledge is power. Take full advantage of your rights, though, and make sure you have the very best legal representation you can find.
Title IX and Sexual Misconduct
Most sexual misconduct cases at the Embry-Riddle Aeronautic University Prescott, AZ campus are handled under Title IX. Building a defense, then, begins with understanding this federal law.
Title IX, passed in 1972, prohibited all forms of sexual discrimination and harassment on college and university campuses. Since its initial passage, it has been updated to include a comprehensive set of guidelines on how schools should go about investigating and adjudicating allegations.
The Embry-Riddle, Prescott Title IX Sexual Harassment Policy offers its own interpretation of the law. Here are the most important points of that interpretation.
- Embry-Riddle, Prescott has a Title IX Coordinator. This Coordinator sets school policy based on the law and decides which allegations warrant a formal investigation.
- Title IX grants respondents a number of important due process rights. One of these is the right to Notice of the Charges. In essence, the Coordinator must provide the accused with the name of the Complainant (alleged victim) and details of the allegation, as well as information on their other rights. These include
- 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
- After issuing a Notice of the Charges, the Coordinator appoints an Investigator to gather the facts of the case.
- The Investigator meets separately with both sides in the case. In addition, they collect any physical evidence and interview potential witnesses.
- Once the investigation is complete, the Investigator completes an unbiased report on their findings. Both sides then have ten days in which to suggest any potential revisions to this document before it is forwarded to the Title IX Coordinator.
- After receiving the Investigative Report, the Coordinator sets a time and date for a live hearing. In addition, they select a Decision-Maker to govern proceedings.
- At the hearing, both sides may make arguments, present evidence, and call witnesses to testify. In addition, both sides have the right—through their advisors—to cross-examine one another and any witnesses against them.
- Ultimately, the Decision Maker must determine whether or not the Respondent is responsible for a violation. In doing this, they rely on a legal standard known as “Clear and Convincing Evidence.” In simple terms, this standard requires they find the Respondent responsible if they believe it is “substantially likely” that an offense was committed. This is less strict than the more well-known “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” standard.
- Finally, under Title IX, both sides have the right to appeal the outcome of the hearing. However, appeals must be filed within five days. In addition, the 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 Sexual Misconduct
Not every sexual misconduct incident at Embry-Riddle, Prescott is subject to Title IX. That's because the law changed in 2020. Among these changes, off-campus events are no longer investigated as Title IX offenses. Many schools, including Embry-Riddle, Prescott, worried that in the wake of these changes, some misconduct might slip through the cracks and go unpunished. In response, they passed new school policies designed to deal with these so-called “Non-Title IX” incidents.
Embry-Riddle, Prescott's procedures in these cases, as outlined in its Sexual Misconduct Policy, bears many similarities to Title IX procedures, particularly in terms of the investigation. Students have the right to a presumption of “Not Responsible,” for instance; they have the right to an advisor, who may be an attorney; and they have the right to Notice of the Charges.
There is one important difference between the two sets of procedures, though. In non-Title IX cases, students are not entitled to defend themselves at a formal hearing. Instead, at the conclusion of the investigation, the Title IX Coordinator makes a determination as to the Respondent's level of responsibility.
How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?
Whether you're facing a Title IX or non-Title IX accusation, the stakes are high, too high to try and navigate a complex investigation and hearing all on your own.
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.