The safety and welfare of students is the main objective of all colleges and universities, but this obligation also includes students accused of committing sexual misconduct or Title IX violations. Unfortunately, despite having the best of intentions, many schools do not protect accused students' rights as well, or as passionately, as they protect victims'. This neglect prevents students from being truly heard.
If you or someone you love has been accused of sexual misconduct or a Title IX violation at Eastern Michigan University, it's important for you to know that you are not alone. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm have years of experience helping hundreds of students across the country navigate the complex issues of sexual misconduct and Title IX violations. Their fighting attitude and unmatched skill will ensure your university upholds your fundamental rights to due process. Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 for help.
What is Title IX?
Title IX is a federal regulation that creates a specific standard that all federally funded colleges and universities must maintain when handling sexual discrimination and sexual violence accusations on their campus. These standards include:
- There needs to be clear and immediate procedures for sexual misconduct allegations
- There must be designated personnel to handle incidents of sexual violence
- In Title IX hearings, the standard of evidence should be the “more likely than not” standard or the “preponderance of evidence” standard
- Both parties involved have access to the same procedures surrounding the presence of advisors, access to appeals, and the presentation of the evidence (among other things)
- Protecting the victim and accused student from retaliation
Eastern Michigan University outright forbids discrimination of any kind, including sexual misconduct, which includes rape, sexual exploitation, stalking, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and relationship violence.
What Happens After You are Accused of Sexual Misconduct at Eastern Michigan University?
Once a report is submitted to the university, the Title IX Coordinator will review the complaint and determine if it falls within the scope of Title IX. If the conduct is discriminatory in nature and occurred on university property, it will fall within Title IX. If it occurs on university property but is not discriminatory in nature, it will still be considered an act of sexual misconduct and adjudicated as such.
The Title IX Coordinator will send the accused student notice of the complaint, the reason it falls within the scope of their office, and provide a time and date to meet with them to discuss the matter. Both Title IX violations and incidents of sexual misconduct follow the same grievance process at Eastern Michigan University, though the departments differ. It is important to know which department is overseeing your case as that is who you will need to communicate with.
After determining which department will oversee the accusations, the university will appoint an impartial individual to begin an investigation. The investigator will be interviewing both parties and potential witnesses and start gathering evidence. Once the investigation is complete, they will prepare an investigation report, which both parties can respond to. The report and its responses will be delivered to the university committee overseeing the formal hearing process.
During the hearing, you will have the opportunity to present your side of the case. Eastern Michigan University allows students to have advisors advocating on their behalf during these proceedings, exhibiting relevant evidence, and questioning or cross-examining witnesses as they see fit. At the end of the hearing process, the committee involved will determine if there is enough evidence to show that the accused student did, in fact, commit the conduct. They will also determine if and what sanctions are necessary. Sanctions range from warnings to suspension or full expulsion from the university.
Appealing a Sexual Misconduct or Title IX Violation Decision
Once you are notified of the university's decision, you have five business days to appeal it. Appeals must be made in writing to the designee specified in the notice and can only be made on the following grounds:
- A procedural error or irregularity affected the outcome
- There is new evidence that was not reasonably available during the hearing that could affect the outcome
- The severity of the sanction does not match the severity of the violation
The university designee in charge of reviewing the appeal will either affirm it, modify the sanction, or remand it to a hearing panel for further review. The appeal decision is final and cannot be appealed further.
How an Experienced Attorney Advisor Can Help
Being accused of sexual misconduct or Title IX violations can result in several consequences, some of them lasting beyond the confines of your college campus. For instance, to begin with, the university will separate you from the victim. This might sound like an easy punishment, but it could result in the loss of your freedom on campus. Separating you and the alleged victim could result in changing or revoking your residency on campus, restricting you from taking classes at times the victim has chosen, or even removing you from student organizations where the victim is present. Additionally, if you are suspended or expelled, the university will record those punishments on your transcripts, forcing you to explain the incident on every graduate application, and some employment applications, in the future.
But it is important to remember that there is still much that can be done to prevent these negative consequences from affecting your future. Attorney advisors, like Attorney Joseph D. Lento, will work diligently to guarantee you the best possible outcome for your case. At the Lento Law Firm, we know how hard these allegations can be on students. We will fight for you. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.