Getting notified of Title IX violation or sexual misconduct accusations can be devastating and isolating. You may not know how to defend yourself or who you can trust for help. At Illinois State University, students are allowed to work with attorney-advisors who will guide them through the grievance process. Attorney-advisors, like those at Lento Law Firm, work diligently to gather relevant evidence, interview witnesses, and create a strategic defense that will guarantee the best possible outcome for your case. Working with an attorney-advisor can sometimes mean the difference between probation and expulsion. Call Lento Law Firm 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
Illinois State University is committed to providing an academic environment free of sexual harassment, which includes discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual misconduct like sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.
What Happens After an Allegation of Sexual Misconduct at the Illinois State University?
The Illinois State University expects all students, faculty, and staff to show respect to others on campus. As such, any act of harassment or discrimination is dealt with promptly. Once a complaint is made, the Title IX Coordinator will reach out to the complainant for a preliminary interview.
During the interview, the coordinator will determine if a formal complaint is warranted. If the complainant decides not to pursue a formal complaint, but the Title IX coordinator believes a formal complaint is necessary, they have the power to file it on their own. This is done on a case-by-case basis and does not make the coordinator a party to the issue.
After the formal complaint is filed, the university will launch an investigation. The investigator will provide notice to the accused student of the accusations and set up interviews with the complainant and the accused student, gather documentary evidence, and interview relevant witnesses.
When they finish the investigation, they will first send the draft of their report to the complainant and accused student for review.
You have ten business days to review the draft and provide feedback. The clock starts to run on the date the draft is delivered to you via email. You must submit any comments, feedback, additional documents, evidence, witnesses, or other information by the tenth day or risk it not being included at the hearing.
The investigator will address any relevant and appropriate issues the complainant or respondent has brought up before issuing their final report. A hard copy of this report, as well as directions for the next steps, will be sent to both parties. The hearing will be scheduled for no earlier than ten days after the reports are received. Five days before the hearing, the hearing panel will meet with both parties to inform them of the hearing proceedings.
During the formal hearing, both parties have equal opportunities to present their arguments, evidence, and witnesses. You will also have the opportunity to cross-examine the other party's witnesses and evidence. When both parties have been heard fully, the hearing panel will meet separately to determine responsibility and whether sanctions are necessary.
The purpose of sanctions is to educate the student on why their behavior is inappropriate. Thus, the imposed sanction cannot be harsher than the act in question. At Illinois State University, sanctions are composed of both an inactive sanction and an active sanction. Inactive sanctions might include censure, disciplinary probation, or disciplinary dismissal. And active sanctions include conflict management training, reflective exercises, and ethics workshops.
Appealing a Sexual Misconduct or Title IX Violation Decision at Illinois State University
When you receive notice of the hearing panel's decision, the letter will also describe the steps you must take to appeal it. At Illinois State University, the appeal must be filed within ten business days of receiving this decision. And appeals can only be filed on the following grounds:
- There was a procedural error or lack of adequate due process that affected the outcome
- The sanction imposed was inappropriate or substantially disproportionate to the findings
- 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 Title IX Coordinator, the investigator, or a member of the hearing panel had a conflict of interest or bias for or against the complainant or accused student that affected the outcome of the matter
The Dean of Students will review the appeal and decide if an appeal hearing is appropriate. If they decide it isn't, the appeal is denied, and the case is closed. There is no further appeal to be made. But, if they decide the appeal is warranted, they will convene an appeals hearing within ten business days. The investigator and the hearing panel members will have an opportunity to respond to the appeal criteria. Additionally, you and the complainant can attend the appeals hearing, but the only information the appeals panel will consider is information presented in the written appeal. Whatever the appeal hearing decision, it is final and cannot be appealed further.
How a Skilled Attorney-Advisor Can Help
Title IX violations or acts of sexual misconduct can have other consequences outside of the sanctions the university may impose. For example, if you are punished with disciplinary probation, you are on thin ice. Any further misbehavior will have you removed from school without a hearing. It can be very stressful to constantly be checking over your shoulder to make sure you aren't going to get into trouble for something else. The mental and emotional turmoil may be enough to cause significant mental health struggles.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm are skilled attorney-advisors with years of experience helping college students in a similar situation. They will work diligently to mitigate any potential negative consequences and preserve your place on campus. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.