Sexual Misconduct and Title IX Violations at the University of Missouri – St. Louis

When you apply to college, you dream of the friendships you will make, the clubs you will join, and the adventures you will have before graduation. You never envision being accused of a Title IX violation or an act of sexual misconduct, so when you are, it can feel completely overwhelming. Who can you trust? How do you defend yourself? Working with an attorney-advisor can alleviate these questions and concerns. Attorney-advisors, like attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm, have years of experience helping students in similar situations. They will work tirelessly to collect evidence, question witnesses, and create a strategic defense that is sure to get you're the best possible outcome for your case. Call the Lento Law Firm today for help.

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

The University of Missouri – St. Louis is committed to creating an academic environment free from all forms of gender-based discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.

What Happens After an Allegation of Sexual Misconduct at the University of Missouri – St. Louis?

The University of Missouri – St. Louis (UMSL) expects its students, faculty, and staff to report a Title IX violation or an act of sexual misconduct as soon as they become aware of it. Once this report is made, the Title IX Coordinator will meet with the complainant to gather further details of the incident. If during this meeting, the Coordinator believes a formal complaint should be filed, they will encourage the complainant to do so. In some cases, the complainant may not wish to pursue the matter further, but if the Coordinator believes a formal complaint should be filed, they will do it themselves. It should be noted, though, that this does not make the Title IX Coordinator a party to the hearing.

After the formal complaint is filed, an investigator will meet with both the complainant and the accused student, question other witnesses, and gather and review relevant evidence. Prior to the investigation ending, the investigator will send their notes and a draft of their report to the Title IX Coordinator. This report will usually outline the investigator's observations of the complainant and accused student's credibility. If the Title IX Coordinator believes there is not enough of a basis to continue with the complaint after reviewing the investigative report, the process will end immediately. But the complainant does have the ability to challenge this decision if done within five days.

During the hearing, both parties will have an equal opportunity to present their arguments, exhibit their evidence, and question their witnesses. They will also be given a chance to cross-examine the other party's evidence and witnesses. At the conclusion of the hearing, the decision-maker will determine, beyond a preponderance of the evidence, if the accused student is responsible for a Title IX violation or another act of sexual misconduct. This means that the decision-maker has found that it is more likely than not that the incident did occur.

The decision-maker will also determine which sanctions to impose on the accused student. Possible sanctions might include:

  • A warning
  • Probation
  • Loss of privileges
  • Discretionary sanctions, like work assignments, service to the university, or counseling
  • Residence hall suspensions
  • Residence hall expulsions
  • Campus suspension – the accused student cannot be on campus
  • University dismissal – the accused student must separate from the institution
  • University suspension – the accused student must separate from the university for a specific period of time
  • University expulsion – the student is permanently separated from the university

Appealing a Sexual Misconduct or Title IX Violation Decision at the University of Missouri – St. Louis

Either the complainant or the accused student can appeal the decision-maker's determination after the hearing process. The appeal must be made to the Equity Resolution Appellate Officer within three days of receiving the decision-maker's letter. Appeals can only be made on the following grounds:

  1. There was a procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the matter
  2. There is new evidence available now that was not reasonably available during the hearing or investigation that might affect the outcome of the matter
  3. The sanctions are substantially disproportionate to the findings

The Equity Resolution Appellate Officer will review the appeal and determine whether to uphold the decision-maker's determination, reject it, or modify the sanctions imposed. The Equity Resolution Appellate Officer's decision is final and cannot be appealed further.

How an Attorney-Advisor Can Help

Title IX violations and sexual misconduct allegations carry heavy potential sanctions, and there are long-term consequences attached to those sanctions. For instance, the friendships you make on campus are usually the ones you keep for life. Your on-campus residence, whether that is a dormitory or a Greek fraternity or sorority house, are key pieces to creating and fostering friendships. If you are transferred to another dormitory, or if you are removed from on-campus housing altogether, you might not only find it difficult to find off-campus housing in the middle of the semester but also find it to be very isolating. Issues like these can lead to mental health struggles in the future. The above concerns, as serious as they can be, pale in comparison to the likely sanctions if a respondent is found responsible. Suspension or expulsion can unfortunately close doors forever.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm team are highly qualified attorney-advisors with vast experience helping college students protect themselves against false allegations and potential egregious sanctions. Their passion and know-how is unparalleled. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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