Receiving a notice from a California State University – Northridge Title IX coordinator that you are being accused of sexual misconduct can be a seriously surreal experience. It makes no difference if you were expecting the notification or completely surprised to receive it; it is always hard to know what comes next. What is the disciplinary procedure like? How will these allegations affect your time on campus or your future after school? Attorney Joseph D. Lento can help answer these questions. He has advised hundreds of students at colleges and universities around the country who have been accused of sexual misconduct. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.
Title IX and California State University – Northridge
Title IX is a federal regulation that creates a specific standard that all federally funded colleges and universities must uphold when managing 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 evidence”
- Both parties involved should have access to the same procedures – advisors, appeals, and presentation of the evidence
- Retaliation protection
California State University – Northridge is dedicated to creating a safe space for its students, staff, and faculty, regardless of their gender. As a federally funded university, CSUN defines gender to include sex, gender identity, gender expression, transgender, and sex stereotyping. In addition, sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and retaliation are prohibited – as the federal regulation explained above.
What Happens After an Allegation of Sexual Misconduct?
After an allegation of sexual misconduct is made, CSUN will act to separate you and the victim, which ranges from changing your dormitory and altering your class schedule to forcing you out of certain extracurricular activities, redirecting your path on campus, or suspending you while the issue is ongoing. From here, the Title IX coordinator investigates the complaint and determines whether you have committed sexual misconduct and what sanctions are necessary.
Once the investigator has finished the investigation report, you may ask them to resolve the complaint without a hearing through the Early Resolution Process. But if the case cannot be resolved, a hearing is scheduled. At this hearing, you will be able to provide witnesses and evidence on behalf of your defense. Both you and the complainant are allowed to bring an advisor to help prepare you for the hearing and consult with you during the hearing.
At the end of the hearing, when the Hearing Officer makes their determinations, they will outline a series of sanctions that may range from expulsion or suspension to altering your class schedule or limiting your time on campus. From being forced to pay for the victim's injuries or damages to losing your financial aid.
Can I Appeal an Adverse Decision in My Case?
Yes, CSU's systemwide Title IX policy offers you an appeal if you lose your sexual misconduct case. CSU's appeal policy expressly provides, "Any Complainant or Respondent who is not satisfied with a Formal Complaint Process outcome (determination regarding responsibility or recommended sanction) may file an appeal with the Chancellor's Office no later than 10 Working Days after the date of the Decision Letter." An appeal, though, is not a second chance at a full hearing. Instead, the appellant must show one of these grounds for appeal:
- the hearing outcome is not supported by substantial evidence, there being no reasonable basis for findings or conclusions;
- a procedural irregularity occurred that affected the outcome of the matter;
- new evidence is now available that was not reasonably available at the time of the hearing and would have affected the decision;
- the Title IX Coordinator, Investigator, or Hearing Officer had a conflict of interest or bias that affected the outcome of the matter; or
- the sanction imposed constituted an abuse of discretion based on the substantiated conduct.
The Chancellor's Office may approve, reject, or modify the decision below, or send the matter back for further hearing. The Chancellor's Office decides appeals based on the student's written submission. In deciding the appeal, the Chancellor's Office must stick to the record developed at the formal hearing, except when considering whether newly discovered evidence warrants reopening the hearing. That limitations means that you should have skilled academic appellate attorney representation if you hope to prevail on appeal. National academic administrative attorney Joseph D. Lento skillfully handles misconduct appeals.
What's at Stake in My Sexual Misconduct Case?
If you are accused of sexual misconduct at CSUN, the consequences can extend beyond just school. For instance, if the sanction imposed is to limit your access to campus so that the victim may better avoid you, you may have to alter your entire schedule and take classes when it is less convenient for you. If you lose your financial aid, you may be forced to take out loans with higher interest rates, affecting how you are able to pay them back after graduation. Suspension and expulsion punishments follow you around for life. Every time you apply to a graduate program, like an MBA program or medical or law school, those punishments will need to be explained. Being accused is one thing, but being adjudicated as having committed sexual misconduct can seriously prevent you from living the life you've been dreaming of since you were little. This is especially true if the university allows your case to fall through the cracks. You are entitled to certain rights, and if those rights aren't upheld, the university is at fault for the consequences you experience.
How an Attorney-Advisor Can Help
You have worked so hard to reach your dreams, and being accused of sexual misconduct can feel crippling. An experienced attorney-advisor will work on your behalf to lessen the long-lasting consequences by gathering all the relevant evidence and facts surrounding your case to create a strategic defense that will bring about the best possible outcome. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have years of experience helping students understand their rights and avoid more harrowing sanctions. Additionally, he and his team will work diligently to ensure the university is upholding your rights to a fair proceeding. You do not have to traverse this path alone. Call 888.535.3686 today to schedule an appointment or visit us online.