An accusation of sexual misconduct is no joke. That's certainly true in a court of law. It's also true if you're facing a disciplinary hearing at a university. Students found guilty of committing such an offense can be punished with probation, suspension, even expulsion. In many cases expulsion comes with a transcript notation that can keep you from enrolling anywhere else. Expulsion may not be the same as jail time, but it can affect the rest of your life.
With so much on the line, you owe it to yourself to take seriously any allegation of sexual misconduct made against you. You can be sure UNLV will. Take the time to study how your school treats such allegations. More importantly, know what you can do to defend yourself.
The Legal History of Sexual Misconduct
The first thing you should know is that no school has a clear set of procedures right now for dealing with sexual misconduct, including UNLV. Why? Because the law on how they treat such allegations is currently in chaos.
For a number of years, colleges and universities have used the federal government's Title IX as a guideline for how to investigate and prosecute instances of sexual misconduct. This law, passed in 1972, was originally intended to level the educational playing field for women in education. To accomplish this task, it prohibited sexual harassment and discrimination and withheld federal funding from any institution that refused to comply.
The law worked. College campuses are far different environments than they were some fifty years ago.
However, over the course of that fifty years, the law evolved, as laws will. “Sexual harassment” came to mean a wide variety of behaviors, from unequal class room treatment, to stalking, to rape. At the same time, the government began to undermine, little by little, defendants' due process rights. In fact, by 2020 Title IX procedures no longer allowed defendants to cross-examine witnesses.
Trump Steps In
In early 2020, the Trump administration issued brand new Title IX guidelines intended to address problems with the law. Those new guidelines took effect in August of that year, at the beginning of the fall semester. Not only did these revised rules restore some key defendants' rights, they also set important limitations to schools' authority and jurisdiction.
By and large, legal experts across the country applauded the changes. As with so much that the Trump administration did, though, things didn't turn out quite the way they had intended.
Most schools saw the new Title IX as a direct affront to their independence and an effort to roll back the good work they had done over several decades to advance the cause of women's and minorities' rights. Some schools actually sued the administration to prevent the changes from taking effect.
More often, colleges and universities chose to work around the new Title IX rather than taking it on directly. Most created a second judicial track for dealing with sexual misconduct when Title IX didn't do what they wanted it to. In short, the new Title IX didn't improve things for defendants; it made the entire process far more difficult to navigate.
Where Things Stand at UNLV
UNLV's policy towards sexual harassment and discrimination can be confusing, which makes accusations of sexual misconduct especially difficult to fight. The Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE), which governs UNLV, is committed to following the new Title IX guidelines where applicable. Those guidelines give defendants the right to call witnesses, cross-examine witnesses, and confront their accusers. However, like many other state boards of regents, the NSHE reserves the right use alternative procedures to prosecute sexual misconduct that doesn't rise to Title IX standards.
The NSHE doesn't clearly define what those alternative procedures should be, instead leaving it up to each school to decide. For example, schools can allow an investigative officer to decide the case, or they can assign that task to a hearing panel.
According to UNLV's procedures, once a complaint is made to the Title IX office,
- A “Primary Officer” is assigned to investigate the matter.
- This officer considers any evidence and interviews both the complainant and the respondent.
- Using the “Preponderance of Evidence” standard, the Primary Officer makes a recommendation to the “appropriate management.”
- The appropriate management then makes a “determination” “regarding the resolution of the matter,” a resolution which can include “involuntary termination or expulsion.”
According to UNLV’s Student Code of Conduct, the appropriate management can be a hearing panel. In fact, while the school's sexual misconduct policy itself doesn't guarantee a hearing, the student conduct code clearly states that “In all cases, charged students and student organizations have the right to a formal hearing” (12). That hearing works differently from a Title IX hearing, though. For instance, advisors aren't permitted to speak during the proceedings other than to their clients.
Whether charged under Title IX or the NSHE's alternative sexual harassment policies, both the complainant and the respondent have a right to appeal the hearing panel's decision, but only for very specific reasons including new evidence and the demonstration of clear bias.
Joseph D. Lento for National Title IX Defense
Students accused of sexual misconduct at UNLV have the right to select an advisor and that advisor can be an attorney.
If you or your child has been accused of sexual misconduct, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento immediately. Joseph D. Lento has years of experience defending students across the United States against these charges. He knows Title IX, including how the recent changes have affected your ability to get a fair trial. In addition, Joseph D. Lento knows how school justice operates. He knows what they will to try and deny you your rights and he knows you to fight them. He will stand beside you from start to finish to protect your rights and make sure you get the very best possible outcome.
For more information, contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-555-3686, or use our automated online form.