Being accused of anything in college can be quite scary. You might be far from your family and not know who to turn to for help. Title IX and sexual misconduct allegations can be even scarier because their punishments tend to have elaborate consequences. At Fordham University, like at most universities in the United States, students are encouraged to get the help of an attorney-advisor. Attorney-advisors, like Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm, have years of experience defending college students in similar situations. They will work tirelessly to gather evidence, question witnesses, and create a strategic defense to offer you the best possible outcome for your case. Call today.
What Is Title IX?
Title IX is a federal regulation that requires all federally funded colleges and universities to maintain certain standards when managing sexual discrimination and sexual violence accusations 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
Fordham University is committed to creating an environment free of any kind of sexual violence or misconduct, including gender-based discrimination like sexual assault, forcible touching, intimidation, retaliation, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.
What Happens After an Allegation of Sexual Misconduct at Fordham University?
Fordham University encourages all students, faculty, and staff to report any information regarding a Title IX violation or an act of sexual misconduct as soon as they become aware of it. Once the Title IX Coordinator learns of the complaint, they will interview the complainant further. After the interview, they will decide if a formal complaint is warranted. They will also decide if the accused student should be removed from campus on an emergency basis. If so, the accused student does have the right to challenge this removal and will be given instructions on how to do so when they receive notice of the emergency removal.
In some cases, the complainant may not want to continue with the formal complaint, but the Title IX Coordinator still believes it is necessary. If this happens, the Title IX Coordinator will actually file the formal complaint, but this does not make them a party to the hearing. Once the formal complaint is filed, the Title IX Coordinator will appoint an investigator to look into the issue further.
The investigator will meet with both parties separately, gather and review evidence, and question witnesses. Prior to delivering their final report to the decision-maker, the investigator will deliver it to both parties so they may also review and comment on the findings. The final report will be disseminated to all involved parties, as well as the decision-maker prior to the hearing.
During the hearing, both you and the complainant will have equal opportunity to present your argument, exhibit your evidence, and question your witnesses. You will also be given a chance to cross-examine the other party's evidence and witnesses. When the hearing is over, and both parties have been heard fully, the decision-maker will determine, beyond a preponderance of the evidence, if the accused student is responsible for a Title IX violation or another act of sexual misconduct.
The decision-maker will also determine which sanctions to impose. Sanctions are meant to teach the accused student that their behavior will not be tolerated. As such, they are not meant to be harsher than the action itself. Possible sanctions might include:
- Disciplinary reprimand
- Residence hall probation
- Student life probation
- University disciplinary probation
- No contact restriction
- Suspension of privileges
- Weekend suspension from residence halls
- Mandatory study hall
Appealing a Sexual Misconduct or Title IX Violation Decision at Fordham University
Both parties have the power to appeal a decision made during the hearing. The appeal must be made to the Senior Vice President for Student Affairs within five school days of the dismissal of a formal complaint or the determination regarding responsibility. Appeals can only be made on the following grounds:
- There was a procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the matter
- There is new evidence available now that was not reasonably available during the hearing or investigation that might affect the outcome of the matter
- The sanctions are substantially disproportionate to the findings
- The Title IX Coordinator, the investigator, or the decision-maker had a conflict of interest or bias for or against the complainant or the accused student that affected the outcome of the matter
The appeal is reviewed by the Student Conduct Review Council (SCRC), a five-member panel. The SCRC will either uphold the decision maker's determination, modify the sanction, or remand the matter back to the decision-maker for further review. Their decision is made by a majority vote and cannot be appealed further.
How a Skilled Attorney-Advisor Can Help
If you or someone you love has been accused of a Title IX violation or another act of sexual misconduct, it is important to realize that the consequences of such allegations reach far beyond the immediate sanctions imposed. For instance, if you are sanctioned with either a suspension or an expulsion, those punishments will be notarized on your transcripts. When you apply to a new college to finish your education, or to graduate school to further it, you will have explain the incident to the admissions counselor. This is especially true for medical and law school applications where ethics and morality are just as important as your grades.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the expert team at the Lento Law Firm are skilled attorney-advisors with unparalleled experience helping college students protect themselves against false allegations and potential egregious sanctions. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.