Has your child recently discovered that they stand accused of sexual misconduct at the University of Virginia? If so, both you and your student may be confused. You may wonder about their future. The University may have sent you upsetting notifications about charges, invitations to hearings, and other documents you'd hoped you'd never see.
If you feel overwhelmed or hopeless, don't be. There are specific actions you can take to help your child navigate their way through their sexual misconduct case successfully. However, you do have to start now.
Title IX, a federal law that in part oversees sexual misconduct investigations at a national level, necessitates quick action from any publicly-funded school regarding allegations of assault or harassment. Once your school learns of your student's alleged misconduct, it may act quickly. Your school may also tend to side with the accuser - resulting in rushed trials and steamrolled rights.
You need to make sure that the University of Virginia stands by all of your student's rights over the course of their sexual misconduct investigation. By working with a legal advisor now, you can build your child the strong case they need - and protect their future from any long-term repercussions.
The University of Virginia and Recent Title IX Updates
In 2020, the federal government made some changes to Title IX that impacted the requirements for publicly-funded schools. In many cases, the updates lessened the scope of Title IX. To respond to these updates, many US schools have updated their Title IX policies. To make up for any lessened scope, schools have also introduced non-Title IX sexual misconduct policies that cover any actions that may fall outside of Title IX's purview.
As the University of Virginia wishes to take action in all cases to preserve the safety of its community, even those that “do not fall within the scope of the new Title IX regulations, such as conduct that occurs off Grounds or that does not meet the narrowed Title IX definitions,” the University's Office for Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights has created an umbrella sexual misconduct policy with two distinct processes. These two processes include the:
- Policy on Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Other Forms of Interpersonal Violence
- Grievance Process for Reports of Title IX Prohibited Conduct
Under these parallel processes, the University of Virginia will respond to all allegations of sexual misconduct. Each process includes regulations regarding proper notifications, investigational activities, hearings, decision from the University regarding culpability, and recommended punitive measures. One of the first decisions that the University will make in your student's case is which policy will affect your child's grievance procedure. Ultimately, from your student's perspective, there may not be much difference regarding their treatment.
What is the Title IX or Sexual Misconduct Grievance Process at the University of Virginia?
According to the sexual misconduct regulations at the University of Virginia, the following actions are among those that the University will consider punishable:
- Sexual harassment (including stalking, bribery with sexual intent, or the distribution of sensitive materials without consent)
- Forcible rape
- Forcible sodomy
- Sexual assault
- Statutory rape
- Any sexual act without informed, voluntary, and active consent
- Dating violence
- Sexual exploitation
After one student makes an accusation against another, that information will go to the University of Virginia's designated Title IX coordinator. Once the University collects this information, it will make a decision as to the next steps. The University of Virginia's student discipline process outlines what may lie ahead of your student in this case.
The University will first make an initial assessment of the allegations before deciding whether to pursue a formal investigation or simply to mete out restorative measures. If it seems that the accusations are severe, the University may pursue a formal resolution, which will result in a hearing before several school officials. In either case, after the University makes its decision, the accused student will have the opportunity to appeal.
Whether the University of Virginia adjudicates your child's case formally or informally, it's a good idea to have a top-tier legal expert at your side. The punishments for sexual misconduct can be severe. Typical punishments include relocation of your student's living quarters, mandatory counseling, or probation. However, even more stark measures may include expulsion and a referral to external law enforcement.
Even if your student receives a more lenient punishment, that's no cause to relax. Having sexual misconduct on their permanent record could make it far more difficult for your student to pursue higher education or even job opportunities in their future. In short, your child's past actions could make their future far more difficult than it needs to be.
Don't let that happen. Talk to an experienced Title IX and sexual misconduct advisor today.
When You Need a Title IX and Sexual Misconduct Advisor, Call Joseph D. Lento
During your child's sexual misconduct investigation and hearing, they have specific rights. These include:
- The right to timely and comprehensive notifications regarding their case
- The right to ask questions about their case and receive answers
- The right to appeal the University's decision
- The right to a fair hearing
- The right to pursue expert representation
Even though your school may offer to let your student use advisors from the University, it's a far better idea to hire your own counsel. You need to work with advisors that will always have your back - instead of being directly loyal to the school or will not be in a position to provide the comprehensive approach and defense that is needed to secure a fair process and a favorable outcome.
That's what we offer at the Lento Law Firm. For years, Joseph D. Lento has assisted students in tough situations across the nation. He will put together a strategic case for your child's innocence, skillfully guide them through due process to a successful end, and aggressively represent them to keep the University accountable to their rights. If you need expertise and experience, turn to Joseph D. Lento for assistance during your child's Title IX or sexual misconduct investigation.