Let's get right to the bottom line: what do you need to know if you've been accused by your college or university of sexual misconduct? Here's just a partial list:
- Who has accused you?
- What are they claiming you did?
- What will the investigation be like?
- Will you have a chance to formally defend yourself?
- What kind of punishments could you be facing?
- What standard will the school use to determine your guilt or innocence?
- What rights do you have as the accused?
You'll find answers to most of these questions here. By far, the most important thing you need to know, though, is how to get help with your case. A sexual misconduct case is complex. If you lose, you're likely to face suspension or expulsion. The law entitles you to an advisor and to choose an advisor who is an attorney. Make the most of that right by choosing a Title IX attorney, someone who knows the law and who has experience working with student clients.
Title IX and Sexual Misconduct
Utah State University Regional Campuses and Distance Education treat all sexual misconduct as Title IX violations. This means understanding the charges against you and what the process will be like begins with finding out all you can about this federal law.
Title IX was passed in 1972 with the intention of curbing sexual discrimination and harassment on college campuses. In addition to its general prohibitions, it also contains a lengthy set of guidelines for how schools should go about investigating and adjudicating allegations.
Utah State University Regional Campuses and Distance Education offers its own interpretation of the law in its Sexual Misconduct Policy, and you can learn a lot about what you're up against by checking out this policy. Here are the highlights.
- All Utah State schools have a Title IX Coordinator. This Coordinator sets school policy based on the law and makes decisions about which allegations warrant a formal investigation.
- If you've been charged with a Title IX violation, you are entitled to a number of important due process rights. The first of these is the right to Notice of the Charges. This notice should provide you with details about the allegation and the name of the Complainant. Other rights 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
- The Coordinator appoints an Investigator to gather the facts of the case and create an unbiased report based on their findings. As part of the investigation, the Investigator meets separately with both sides, collects any physical evidence, and interviews witnesses.
- 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.
- You have a right to review the Investigative Report and suggest revisions before it is forwarded to the Coordinator.
- The second phase of the case is a formal hearing. The Coordinator sets the time and date for this hearing and appoints one or more Decision Makers to manage the proceedings.
- 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.
- Ultimately, Decision Makers determine whether or not you are responsible for a violation. 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.
- The hearing isn't necessarily the end of the case. You have the right to appeal the outcome of the hearing. However, 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
Finally, you should know that the law changed significantly in 2020. Among these changes, the federal government decreed that off-campus incidents would no longer be subject to Title IX investigations or hearings. Many schools have chosen to classify such incidents as “Non-Title IX” misconduct and have developed their own policies and procedures for dealing with them. Utah State Regional Campuses and Distance Education has not.
The policy at Utah State Regional Campuses and Distance Education clearly states that the school does not investigate non-Title IX allegations in any way. However, those allegations are turned over to local law enforcement as appropriate.
How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?
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.