When you, or someone you love, is accused by their university of sexual misconduct, it can feel surreal. You never expect this to be your reality, so you may not know what to expect. How will this allegation affect your future? How do you effectively combat these accusations? This is where hiring an experienced attorney will help. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has worked with hundreds of college students who have been accused of sexual misconduct by the university. He works diligently to uncover all the facts and ensure your school is upholding all your rights. He won't let you slip through the disciplinary system's cracks.
The University of Oregon and the Recent Title IX Updates
Title IX is a federal regulation that sets a specific standard for colleges and universities that receive federal funding when handling sexual discrimination and sexual violence on their campus. These standards include:
- Clear and immediate procedures for sexual misconduct allegations
- Designated personnel to handle instances of sexual violence
- In Title IX hearings, the standard of evidence should be “more likely than not” or “preponderance of the evidence”
- Both parties involved should have access to the same procedures – advisors, appeals, and presentation of the evidence
- Retaliation protection
The University of Oregon is committed to providing a safe atmosphere for all students, faculty, and staff, regardless of gender. As a federally funded university, the University of Oregon must abide by these standards.
Title IX isn't Just About Sexual Misconduct
Title IX is more about overall gender discrimination than just sexual misconduct. In fact, it has helped female athletes garner more scholarship opportunities and participate in more intercollegiate sports, making their endeavors nearly equal to their male counterparts. This federal regulation is applied to sexual misconduct allegations because these offenses (rape, sexual harassment, sexual assault, etc.) are considered gender-based discrimination.
The Sexual Misconduct Policies at the University of Oregon
The University of Oregon (UO) has a very robust standard operating procedure handbook that explains how they will handle allegations of sexual misconduct. Generally, the university asks students to report instances of sexual misconduct as soon as possible. Once a report is made, the Director of Student Conduct and Community Standards will conduct a preliminary assessment to determine whether UO has jurisdiction over the offense and whether the allegation truly violates the Code of Conduct. Both the complainant and the accused are advised not to contact one another until the Director and Decision-maker resolve the matter.
If the matter should proceed to the Administrative Conference, both parties will be able to provide witnesses and give their own testimonies, all of which is subject to questioning by either side. Additionally, both parties may present any relevant evidence; however, if a party or witness does not agree to cross-examination, the Decision-maker cannot rely on any of their statements when making a determination on the accused fault. (This does not apply if the party or witness refuses to answer a question the Decision-maker asked themselves or to questions about the subject matter of the accusation.)
Once the Decision-maker has heard all the witness testimony, first-hand accounts, and evidence presented, they will decide fault. No matter what they decide, the accused has the option to appeal.
University of Oregon's Code of Conduct: Consequences
If you are found responsible of sexual misconduct by UO, there are several penalties the university could employ. These penalties range from disciplinary probation to suspension or expulsion, and the severity of the punishment depends on the severity of the sexual misconduct.
- Disciplinary probation will usually result from non-consensual sexual contact, sex and gender-based harassment, and other forms of discriminatory misconduct.
- Suspension will generally result from non-consensual sexual contact (depending on the degree of contact), sexual exploitation, and non-consensual penetration (this will warrant a more serious multi-year suspension).
- Expulsion is saved for more grave and violent scenarios, like non-consensual penetration involving violence, severe sexual exploitation, relationship violence, and stalking.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive, and the level of punishment is contingent on the gravity of the offense and other factors.
These punishments are just a small glance at the immediate consequences of sexual misconduct allegations. Sexual misconduct accusations can have many longer-lasting effects on both your personal and professional reputations, even if you are accused and found not at fault. If you are subject to penalization, the instance will be marked on your permanent college record, and you will need to divulge it to every graduate program you hope to attend. For instance, if you hope to go to law school after college, these penalties could affect your ability to gain acceptance. If you are accepted, you will need to explain the issue further on your character and fitness application to the state bar of choice.
How a Skilled Attorney Can Help
Being accused of sexual misconduct by your university should be taken seriously, but it doesn't mean it's the end of the road. Hiring a skilled attorney will help better your outcome and ensure your university upholds your rights. Unfortunately, many universities drop the ball when it comes to disciplinary actions and either suspend or expel the accused student without offering them due process, and most students do not understand the full extent of their rights and so never appeal. Having an experienced attorney on your side from the very beginning, like Attorney Joseph D. Lento, will ensure you know exactly what to expect and are prepared to fight for your future.
Attorney Lento will work vigilantly to gather all the facts, find witnesses, and present evidence on your behalf. Call 888.535.3686 today to schedule a consultation. You do not have to say goodbye to the future you've been working so hard to achieve. Let Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm help build a strategic defense that fits you.