You have worked so hard to get into college. You've studied hard, written your personal essays, and hoped and prayed to get into a great school. So, it can feel jarring if you are accused of sexual misconduct or a Title IX violation. It might feel like all your hard work is being washed away in the blink of any eye. If this sounds like you, or you know someone going through something similar, Lento Law Firm can help. You do not have to go through this on your own, an attorney-advisor will be able to help you navigate the storm and ensure your university upholds your rights.
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
The University of Alabama Birmingham prohibits discrimination, like gender-based harassment and sexual exploitation, and sexual misconduct, such as dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault.
What Happens After an Allegation of Sexual Misconduct at the University of Alabama Birmingham?
At the University of Alabama Birmingham, students who've experienced sexual misconduct are able to make complaints to the Title IX Office, whether the incident falls under Title IX or not. Once the complainant notifies the university of the accusation, the Title IX Coordinator will interview them and determine if a formal complaint should be made. In most cases, the complainant will file the formal complaint, but sometimes the Title IX Coordinator takes it upon themselves to file the complaint if the complainant is unsure.
If the school determines that the allegations meet the criteria of an act of sexual misconduct or Title IX violation, they will launch an investigation. The preliminary investigation will include interviews with both the complainant and the accused student. When the investigation ends, the investigator will send their official report to both parties and the Title IX Coordinator.
In some cases, the Title IX Coordinator will offer the parties an informal resolution process. When considering if an informal resolution process is merited, the Coordinator will look at the following factors:
- The nature of the offense
- The power dynamics between the complainant and the accused student
- The accused student's prior known conduct
- Whether multiple parties were involved
This list is, of course, not exhaustive, and the Coordinator may deem any other factor relevant. Also, if the student admits responsibility during the informal resolution process, the Coordinator can determine an appropriate punishment. Both students can remove themselves from the informal resolution process, which would kickstart the formal resolution process.
For students who do not partake in the informal resolution process, the Coordinator will notify the accused student of a formal hearing date. During the hearing, both the accused student and the complainant are allowed to present evidence and witness testimony on behalf of their case. Additionally, both parties can seek guidance from an attorney advisor to help prepare them for the hearing.
When the decision-maker has heard both sides and reviewed the investigator's report, they will determine responsibility. If the student is found responsible for either an act of sexual misconduct or a Title IX violation, they will decide on an appropriate sanction. Sanctions can range from:
- A warning
- Loss of privileges
- Residence hall suspension or transfer/expulsion
- Educational assignment
- Fines or restitution
- On-going no contact orders
- Withholding of degrees
Appealing a Sexual Misconduct or Title IX Violation Decision at the University of Alabama Birmingham
At the University of Alabama Birmingham, like at most universities, students are afforded the opportunity to appeal the decision of the Decision-Maker. Appeals must be made within seven calendar days of receiving the decision or sanctions, and they can only be made on the following grounds:
- Procedural irregularity that affected the outcome
- The sanction imposed was grossly inappropriate
- 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
The Vice President of Student Life or their designee will review the appeal and determine whether to reduce, uphold, or increase the sanctions. Whatever the outcome of the appeal, it is final and cannot be appealed further.
How an Experienced Attorney Advisor Can Help
No matter what the Decision-Maker decides, a Title IX violation or sexual misconduct allegation can have long-lasting repercussions. For instance, if you are adjudicated responsible and are punished, it could separate you from your study groups, friendship circles, or dormitory. Additionally, if you are punished with suspension or expulsion, those sanctions remain on your transcripts forever. If you apply to graduate school, you will have to explain them during every admissions interview.
Working with an experienced attorney-advisor from the moment you learn of the accusations is so important. Attorney advisors, like Attorney Lento and Lento Law Firm, have the skill and passion to ensure you the best possible outcome for your case. They will work tirelessly to mitigate any negative consequence that might occur and make sure the university is upholding your rights during every step of the process. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.