While getting into college might feel easy to some students, most students in the United States work incredibly hard to ensure they've taken the right high school courses, achieved a particular GPA, and have all the non-academic accolades they can achieve before even applying. It can be scary and confusing, then, if you are accused of a sexual misconduct or Title IX violation during your college career. You may be wondering, who can you trust? It is important to remember that your school's top priority will be protecting themselves, which could prevent them from upholding your due process rights.
Kent State University allows its students to work with advisors at every stage of the process. These advisors, like Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm, will advocate on your behalf, ensuring you the best possible outcome for your case. Call our Firm today.
What is Title IX?
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
Kent State University is committed to providing an environment free of sex-based discrimination and harassment. They define sexual misconduct as sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking, as well as retaliation against the reporter of sexual misconduct.
What Happens After an Allegation of Sexual Misconduct at Kent State University?
At KSU, students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to report incidents of sexual misconduct. Once the university receives this initial complaint, the Title IX Coordinator will review it and interview the complainant. If they believe a formal complaint is warranted, they will ask the complainant if they wish to file one. If the complainant decides not to, the matter will stop there. But if they wish to proceed, or the Title IX Coordinator concludes that a formal complaint must be made, they will launch a formal investigation.
There are only certain instances when a Title IX formal complaint can be dismissed:
- If the alleged conduct does not constitute sexual harassment as defined by KSU
- The conduct didn't occur in an educational program or activity
- The conduct didn't occur against someone in the U.S.
- When the formal complaint was filed, the complainant wasn't enrolled (or trying to enroll) in an education program or activity
KSU is supposed to provide the accused student with notice at every step of the grievance process. During the formal investigation, the investigator will interview both the complainant and the accused student, as well as any relevant witnesses the parties inform them of. When the investigation ends, a formal report will be delivered to both parties, who will be given an opportunity to respond to it. This report, and your responses, will be turned over to the hearing panel at the start of the hearing.
During the hearing, you will be allowed to present your case – question witnesses, cross-examine the other party's witnesses, and present evidence to prove you are not responsible for these allegations. Working with an attorney-advisor will ensure you make proper use of these proceedings.
After hearing both sides, the panel will meet privately to decide whether or not there is a preponderance of evidence to prove that the accused student committed a Title IX violation or an act of sexual misconduct. If they find you responsible, they will also determine what punishments are appropriate.
Sanctions may include any of the following punishments:
- A warning
- Suspension from a restricted enrollment program
- Suspension of specific privileges
- Deferred suspension
- Suspension from the university for a period of time
Appealing a Sexual Misconduct or Title IX Violation Decision
If you are found responsible at Kent State University, you must appeal the decision, in writing, within seven calendar days. Appeals can only be made on the following grounds:
- A procedural irregularity affected the outcome of the case
- There is new evidence that wasn't reasonably available at the time of the hearing that could affect the outcome of the case
- The Title IX Coordinator, Investigator, or Decision Makers had a conflict of interest or bias that affected the outcome of the case
Both parties are allowed to make an appeal – so if you are found not responsible, and the complainant decides to appeal it, you will want to keep an eye out for the notice. You will be given an opportunity to respond to the appeal and state whether you support or challenge it.
The appeals decision-maker (who will not be the same as the hearing panel) will review the appeal and the parties' responses. They will then decide if the hearing panel's decision should be upheld, their imposed sanctions modified, or if the matter should be referred back to the Title IX Coordinator and hearing panel for further review. Whatever they decide, it is final, and you will not be able to appeal it further.
How the Lento Law Firm Can Help
Unfortunately, sexual misconduct and Title IX violations can incur serious, long-lasting consequences, including the loss of freedom of movement on campus. Moreover, punishments that include suspension or expulsion will be recorded on your transcripts. This means that if you are suspended or expelled and try to apply to another college for admission, or you decide to attend graduate school, you will most likely have to explain the incident on both the applications and interviews with the admissions board which will likely close doors forever.
It's important to remember, though, that there are several steps you can take to help mitigate these consequences, including hiring an attorney-advisor. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have unmatched experience when it comes to allegations of sexual misconduct or Title IX violations. They will ensure your future is protected from unwanted explanations and bias. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.