If you are accused of a Title IX violation or an act of sexual misconduct, it can feel incredibly jarring. You may not know who to trust or where to turn for help. Attorney-advisors have spent years guiding college students through such devastating allegations. They have the experience and skill to interview witnesses, gather evidence, and create a strategic defense that is guaranteed to offer you the best possible outcome for your case. You've worked so hard to get into college, don't let these accusations derail your dreams. Call Lento Law Firm today.
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
Sam Houston State University strives to build a safe academic community that prohibits discrimination based on sex, including sexual misconduct, such as dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.
What Happens After an Allegation of Sexual Misconduct at Sam Houston State University?
Upon receiving the complaint, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion will notify the Title IX Coordinator. The coordinator will reach out to the complainant and schedule an intake interview. During this initial meeting, the coordinator will question the complainant on the information disclosed in the complaint and inform them of informal and formal procedures that are at their disposal.
If the complainant chooses to pursue an informal resolution, the coordinator will notify the accused student and invite them to something like mediation, where they can try and resolve the issue without further intervention. In other cases, the complainant may decide to pursue a formal investigation instead. If so, the coordinator will appoint an investigator to interview both the accused student and the complainant, as well as any witnesses to the incident. They will also gather evidence and create a report for the complainant, accused student, and coordinator.
Both you and the complainant have the opportunity to respond to the investigator's report. You can provide witness statements, documentary evidence, and your own defense to the evidence and testimony presented by the investigator and complainant. This must be done within ten days of receiving the investigative report.
The Title IX Coordinator will forward the investigative report to the decision-maker and two other hearing panel members who will oversee the hearing proceedings. During the live hearing, the complainant and accused students will give their statements, answer questions, present evidence and witnesses, and be given an opportunity to cross-examine the other party and their witnesses.
At the end of the hearing, the panel will determine the responsibility of the accused student. This decision will be delivered in writing and will also disclose which sanctions will be imposed on the accused student, if any.
Possible sanctions will range from a warning and probation to suspension and expulsion or the withholding of your degree. Additionally, sanctions cannot exceed the severity of the incident.
Appealing a Sexual Misconduct or Title IX Violation Decision at Sam Houston State University
At Sam Houston State University, students are given the option to dispute any decision the hearing panel makes.
Title IX Hearings
If the investigation falls under Title IX, you can file an appeal with the appropriate appellate authority, who is listed on the hearing panel's decision letter. This letter will also describe the time frame for the appeal, including its submission deadline. Additionally, 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 decision-maker had a conflict of interest or bias for either party that affected the outcome
- The sanction imposed was substantially disproportionate to the written decision
The appellate authority will review the appeal and determine whether to approve it, reject it, modify it, or remand it for further decision. Whatever they decide, it is final and cannot be appealed further.
How a Skilled Attorney-Advisor Can Help
There are several consequences students accused of sexual misconduct or Title IX violations may receive that go beyond the immediate sanctions imposed by the hearing panel. For instance, if the accused student is found responsible by the hearing panel, they could be forced to change their on-campus housing, separating them from their friends or study groups. Additionally, for students who are suspended or expelled, those punishments will be noted on your transcripts, obligating you to explain them to any admissions officer you meet in the future. This is especially true for law school admissions and character and fitness tests for bar admissions, where every traffic ticket and unpaid purchase needs to be explained.
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.