Sexual Misconduct and Title IX Allegations at Oakland University

All colleges and universities have an obligation to uphold the safety and welfare of their students – including students accused of committing sexual misconduct or Title IX violations – especially them. After all, this country was founded on the idea that the accused would be considered innocent until proven guilty. University staff and faculty have the best of intentions, but many schools don't go to bat as quickly or passionately for the accused student's rights as they do for the supposed victim's rights. This lack of protection prevents the accused student from being fully heard, effectively allowing them to fall through the cracks of the disciplinary system.

If you have been accused of sexual misconduct or a Title IX violation, it's important for you to know how your school deals with such complaints. Only in understanding how they work can you truly protect yourself from any unnecessary punishments. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm have years of experience helping students like yourself navigate these nuanced issues. They will ensure your university upholds your fundamental rights to due process. Call today.

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

Oakland University expressly prohibits discrimination and sexual misconduct, which they define as unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature without consent, including sexual assault, sexually hostile environments, and sexual violence.

What Happens After You are Accused of Sexual Misconduct at Oakland University?

Once a report is submitted to the Dean of Students, the Title IX Coordinator will review the complaint and determine if it falls within the scope of Title IX. They will then send the accused student notice of the complaint and provide a time and date to meet with them to discuss it.

Both Title IX violations and incidents of sexual misconduct follow the same grievance process at Oakland University. The Title IX Coordinator will begin a formal investigation into the accusations, which includes interviewing both parties and potential witnesses, as well as gathering other evidence relevant to the matter. After the investigation is complete, the Title IX Coordinator will prepare an investigation report, which you will have the opportunity to respond to.

The formal hearing process will be overseen by the University Conduct Committee, but there are certain circumstances where the Dean of Students will conduct the hearing. Generally, that is only if the responding party accepts responsibility before the hearing begins or the alleged incident is less severe in nature.

The Dean of Students or the University Conduct Committee will review the investigative report and the parties' responses prior to the hearing. During the hearing, both parties have the right to an advisor present who will help present their case and question and cross-examine witnesses or evidence on their behalf.

After the Dean of Students or the University Conduct Committee has heard both sides, they will determine whether or not the accused student is responsible for such conduct. If the conduct in question falls within Title IX, the university will decide if there was a preponderance of evidence to prove the accused student did commit sexual misconduct of a discriminatory nature. They will also determine if and what sanctions are necessary. Sanctions may include:

  • A written reprimand
  • Probation
  • Deferred suspension
  • Suspension for a specific period of time
  • Restriction of the student's access to campus
  • Expulsion
  • Revocation or withholding of degrees

Appealing a Sexual Misconduct or Title IX Violation Decision

Once the parties are notified of the determination, you have ten working days to appeal the decision. Appeals must be made in writing to the designee specified in the notice and can only be made on the following grounds:

  1. A procedural error or irregularity affected the outcome
  2. There is new evidence that was not reasonably available during the hearing that could affect the outcome

If the appeal is based on a procedural error, you will want to include details on what the procedural error was and how it prevented a fair outcome. And if it is based on new evidence, you will want to specify in detail what the new evidence is, how it affects the outcome, and why it wasn't reasonably available during the hearing. The appeal decision is final and cannot be appealed further.

How an Experienced Attorney Advisor Can Help

The consequences associated with a sexual misconduct or Title IX violation can result in ongoing consequences. First, the primary objective of the university is to separate you from the victim. This might sound simple, but in the aggregate, it might result in severe limitations of your freedom on campus. Suddenly, you might be required to move out of your dorm, restricted from certain classes or buildings at specific times, or prevented from study abroad programs or work-study positions.

Moreover, punishments of suspension or expulsion will be recorded on your transcripts. You might think that transcripts don't matter if you aren't interested in graduate school, but many jobs, like government jobs or teaching positions, require you to submit them to be considered. The memorialization of your punishment means you will have to explain the incident over and over.

It's important, though, to remember that there is still plenty that can be done to protect your future from these negative consequences. Working with an attorney advisor from the moment you learn of the accusations is key to guaranteeing you the best possible outcome. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have the fighting spirit and skill to successfully advocate on your behalf. At the Lento Law Firm, we know how hard these accusations can be on students. We will fight for you. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.

Contact Us Today!

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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