Notification of a Title IX violation and sexual misconduct accusations can be overwhelming. Where do you turn for help? How do you protect yourself? All students are entitled to representation during these proceedings in the form of an attorney-advisor. Attorney-advisors, like those at Lento Law Firm, work tirelessly to help you understand your choices, gather relevant evidence, interview witnesses, and strategize a defense that will guarantee the best possible outcome for your case. Hiring an attorney-advisor can sometimes mean the difference between a suspension and a dismissal of the accusations. Call for help today.
What Is Title IX?
Title IX is a federal regulation that mandates specific requirements that all federally funded colleges and universities must maintain 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
Montclair State University is committed to providing an environment filled with academic pursuits but free of discrimination on the basis of sex, which includes acts of sexual misconduct like sexual assault, sexual harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.
What Happens After an Allegation of Sexual Misconduct at the Montclair State University?
Montclair State University expects all persons to report incidents of sexual harassment and sexual assault. Once the complaint has been made, the Title IX Coordinator will interview the complainant and determine if a formal complaint should be filed. If they agree one should be filed, the Deputy Title IX Coordinator will then investigate the matter.
During the investigation, the Deputy Title IX Coordinator will notify the accused student of the matter and set up a time to interview them. They will also interview the complainant, gather documentary evidence, and interview any witnesses to the incident. When the investigation ends, the investigator will provide a copy of all the evidence they gathered. You have ten calendar days after receiving this evidence to respond to it. The evidence and your response will be included in their report.
When finished, the investigative reports will be sent to the Vice President for Human Resources or Student Code of Conduct Officer, who will schedule a hearing for no earlier than ten days after receiving it. At the hearing, both parties will have the opportunity to present evidence, question witnesses, and cross-examine the other party's evidence and witnesses. The hearing panel will review the arguments presented and determine if the accused student is responsible for either a Title IX violation or an act of sexual misconduct.
Students who are found responsible will also be subject to sanctions. Sanctions are meant to punish the actual behavior and should not be more egregious than the incident. For instance, the school should not be expelling you for inappropriately texting another student unless the contents of the text message were so flagrant that a rational person would punish you in such a way. At Montclair State University, sanctions tend to range from a warning to full expulsion from school.
Appealing a Sexual Misconduct or Title IX Violation Decision at Montclair State University
Both the complainant and the accused student have the ability to appeal the hearing panel's decision. When you receive notice of the decision, the letter will also describe the steps you must take to appeal it. At Montclair, the appeal must be filed within five business days of receiving this decision. If it isn't, the decision is considered final.
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 Deputy 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 appeal decision-maker will review the appeal and decide either to affirm the decision and sanctions, affirm the decision and modify the sanctions, or reverse the decision and determine a new outcome (which could mean a full dismissal of the accusations). Whatever the decision-maker decides, it is final and cannot be appealed further.
How a Skilled Attorney-Advisor Can Help
Being accused of a Title IX violation or sexual misconduct can have long-lasting consequences outside of the sanctions the university may impose. For example, if you are punished with loss of privileges on campus, that might prevent you from residing on campus or accessing it after hours, effectively ceasing your social life to exist. Additionally, there is significant emotional turmoil from just being accused, never mind the grievance process. You might feel like there is no one to trust or not feel safe on campus anymore. These feelings can lead to considerable mental health struggles if you are unable to seek appropriate help.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm have years of experience helping college students in a similar situation. Attorney Lento and his team will work diligently to mitigate any potential negative consequences and preserve your place on campus. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.