Getting into college can be very difficult, so when you do, you don't expect the experience to end prematurely. But for students accused of Title IX violations or sexual misconduct, the idea of expulsion is very real. This is why working with an attorney advisor from the moment you are notified of these accusations is so important. Attorney advisors work diligently to collect evidence and interview witnesses who advocate on your behalf. They will also create a strategic defense that guarantees you the best possible outcome. If you or someone you love has been accused of something similar, an attorney advisor, like Lento Law Firm, is here for you.
What Is Title IX?
Title IX is a federal regulation that creates a particular requirement that all federally funded colleges and universities must uphold when managing sexual discrimination and sexual violence on their campus. These requirements 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
Ball State University endeavors to create a safe academic community that prohibits discrimination and sexual misconduct, such as dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.
What Happens After an Allegation of Sexual Misconduct at Ball State University?
Upon receiving the initial complaint, the Title IX Coordinator will conduct a preliminary assessment, which usually includes an interview with the complainant. They will decide if the issue falls under the scope of Title IX and what the next steps are. If they believe there is enough preliminary evidence for a formal complaint, they will inform the complainant. In some cases, the complainant may decide not to pursue any further action, and the Title IX Coordinator will actually file the formal complaint. This does not make the Title IX Coordinator a party to the hearing, though.
Once the formal complaint is filed, the Title IX Coordinator will notify the accused student. There are some instances where the Title IX Coordinator wishes to separate the complainant and accused student and so will have the accused removed from campus under an emergency order. This order can be appealed, which is why it's important to notify an attorney advisor when you receive word that you are being accused of such actions.
The Title IX Coordinator will then launch a formal investigation. The investigator will interview the complainant and the accused student further, gather evidence, and speak to individuals who may have some knowledge of the incident. When the investigation is near completion, the report will be delivered to both parties for them to review and comment on. You have ten days from receiving the report to provide the investigator with a written response to the allegations. They will then consider this answer before turning in their final report to the Title IX Coordinator.
The Title IX Coordinator will appoint a hearing panel who will review the investigation report and meet with the parties to hear their sides of the story. During the hearing, you have the opportunity to present your own witnesses and evidence and to cross-examine the other party's witnesses and evidence. When the hearing finishes, the hearing panel will determine if you are responsible for the actions by a preponderance of the evidence.
If you are found responsible, the hearing panel will also institute sanctions. Sanctions are meant to be as harsh as the act in question but cannot be harsher. For instance, you cannot be expelled for simply taking a photo of someone without their permission, but depending on the content of the photo, you could be placed on probation or required to move dormitories. Possible sanctions will range from a warning and probation to suspension and expulsion or the withholding of your degree.
Appealing a Sexual Misconduct or Title IX Violation Decision at Ball State University
At Ball State University, students are given the option to appeal any decision the Title IX Coordinator and the hearing panel make (including emergency removal, as explained above). When the hearing panel determines responsibility, they will deliver this response to you by mail, and it will describe the steps you need to take to appeal it.
Accused students have five days after receiving notice of the dismissal or determination to appeal. Appeals can only be made on the following grounds:
- Procedural irregularity that affected the outcome
- New evidence is present that was not reasonably available during the hearing and would have affected the hearing panel's decision
- The Title IX Coordinator, investigator, or member of the hearing panel had a conflict of interest or bias for either party that affected the outcome
- The sanction imposed was too harsh
The Vice President of Student Affairs or their designee will review the appeal and determine whether to reduce, uphold, or increase the sanctions. Whatever they decide, it is final and cannot be appealed further.
How an Experienced Attorney Advisor Can Help
Students accused of sexual misconduct or Title IX violations may incur long-lasting consequences besides harm to their reputation. If the accused student is found responsible by the university, they could be forced to change their housing, effectively removing them from their social circles. Students might also have their course schedules changed if they are in class with the complainant at the time of the decision.
Additionally, for students found responsible and suspended or expelled, those punishments will be noted on your transcripts, forcing you to explain them to any admissions officer you meet in the future. Attorney advisors, like Attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm, have years of experience helping students in your situation. They will work diligently to create a strategic defense and preserve your place and your autonomy on campus.
Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.