Getting into college is no small feat. You've worked so hard to get here, it can be incredibly jarring to find out you've been accused of sexual misconduct or a Title IX violation. Your dream of graduating from college might feel like it is slipping away before your eyes. But the truth is, your university owes you certain rights, and with a strong defense, your dream can remain intact. All students are allowed the advice and collaboration of an attorney advisor. Attorney advisors are well equipped to defend you against such allegations. If you or someone you love has been accused of an act of sexual misconduct, Lento Law Firm can help.
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
James Madison University is committed to creating a safe academic environment free of discrimination, sexual misconduct, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, non-consensual relationships, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.
What Happens After an Allegation of Sexual Misconduct at JMU?
James Madison University is dedicated to protecting its students, faculty, and staff from unsavory situations. When a student files a report of sexual misconduct or a Title IX violation, JMU launches a preliminary investigation. They will reach out to the complainant to learn more about the incident and determine if a formal complaint should be filed. If a formal complaint is filed with the Title IX Office, the Title IX Coordinator will launch a formal investigation.
The investigator will speak with the accused student to hear their side of the story. If the student confesses to the incident, the Coordinator may impose sanctions. In most cases, the accused student does not confess, and the investigator will gather their report and send it to the Title IX Coordinator and the Office of Student Accountability and Restorative Practices (OSARP). The Title IX Coordinator will then begin the formal hearing procedure.
In the formal hearing procedure, the accused student will be notified of an impending hearing date and given the opportunity to prepare a defense to present to the committee. Students accused of a Title IX violation or sexual misconduct should gather evidence and witnesses to speak on their behalf during this hearing. If the idea of doing this is overwhelming, an attorney-advisor can work by your side through all of it.
After the committee determines if the student did, in fact, commit an act of sexual misconduct or a Title IX violation, they will decide which sanction to impose on the student. Sanctions are supposed to be appropriate in light of the incident, meaning they cannot be harsher than necessary. Generally, sanctions will range from a warning and probation to suspension or expulsion. In addition to sanctions, the university will seek to separate the accused student and the complainant. This means that your dorm room and class schedules could be changed, forcing you to find new housing and take classes at times that might be inconvenient to your schedule.
Appealing a Sexual Misconduct or Title IX Violation Decision at James Madison University
All colleges provide their students with the opportunity to appeal a decision the university has made. At James Madison University, the appeal deadline date will be written on the decision letter. The letter will also discuss the grounds on which the appeal can be made. These grounds are:
- Procedural irregularity that affected the outcome
- New evidence is present that was not reasonably available during the hearing and would have affected the Decision-Maker's decision
- The Title IX Coordinator, investigator, or member of the Conduct Body had a conflict of interest or bias for either party that affected the outcome
An unbiased appeals committee will review the appeal and determine whether it should be dismissed, upheld, or modified in some way. Either way, this decision is final and cannot be appealed further.
How an Experienced Attorney Advisor Can Help
For students accused of a Title IX or sexual misconduct allegation, the consequences can be long-lasting. For example, if you're found responsible for either action and the university punishes you with a suspension or expulsion, they will record that punishment on your final transcript. When you try to apply to a new school or graduate school, you will have to discuss the issue during your admissions interviews. This is especially true if you try to attend law school or gain admission to a state bar.
Additionally, all students, whether they are the accused or the complainant, deserve certain rights – like the right to argue your side of the story or have your appeal heard. But unfortunately, many students are lost in the process. Hiring a skilled attorney advisor will ensure the university upholds your due process rights. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm have years of experience helping students in your shoes. They will work tirelessly on your defense, guaranteeing you the best possible outcome for your case. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.