Having the guidance of an attorney-advisor during a sexual misconduct or Title IX violation grievance process can mean the difference between an untimely expulsion and a dismissal of all allegations. Attorney-advisors work diligently to interview witnesses and gather relevant evidence to create a strategic defense on your behalf. Accusations such as these are overwhelming. You may not know which steps to take next or who you can trust. An attorney-advisor will not only help you sort out a defense but deal with the emotional turmoil of it all. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm can help. Call today.
What Is Title IX?
Title IX is a federal regulation that creates a specific 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 Nevada Reno's goal is to ensure that all students are provided with an academic environment free of discrimination and sexual violence, which they define as sexual misconduct, sexual assault, sexual harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, rape, molestation, and stalking.
What Happens After an Allegation of Sexual Misconduct at the University of Nevada Reno?
The University of Nevada Reno takes allegations of sexual misconduct and Title IX violations very seriously and responds to them promptly. Once a complaint has been filed, the university's Title IX Coordinator will interview the complainant and determine whether they should file a formal complaint. If the complainant decides they do not wish to pursue a formal complaint, but the Title IX Coordinator believes there is enough preliminary evidence for one, they have the power to file it without the complainant's help. This does not make the Title IX Coordinator the new complainant in the hearing.
When a formal complaint is filed, the Title IX Coordinator will decide if an informal resolution is reasonable. Both parties must agree to the informal resolution before it can start. Also, if either decides part way through the informal resolution process that they wish to leave it, they can, and the proceedings will return to the formal tract.
The formal complaint is filed with the Title IX Office, and the Title IX Coordinator will appoint an investigator to interview the parties and gather evidence and witnesses who might be able to shine a light on the issue. These interviews and evidence will be written up in a formal report that will be delivered to the hearing officers for review. The hearing officer will then notify both parties of the date of the hearing.
Prior to the hearing, it is important to review the investigator's report and craft an appropriate defense to the accusations. Students who do not prepare are more likely to receive a punishment, which could include expulsion. You don't want to make that mistake.
During the hearing, both parties will have the opportunity to present the evidence and witness testimony they uncovered. Additionally, the parties will be able to cross-examine each other's witnesses and evidence. After both sides have been sufficiently heard, the hearing officers will excuse themselves to deliberate in private. If they find the accused student responsible, they will also determine which sanctions are appropriate given the circumstances. Sanctions should match the conduct itself; they shouldn't be harsher. Possible sanctions might include anything from a reprimand or removal from your university housing to suspension and expulsion.
Appealing a Sexual Misconduct or Title IX Violation Decision at the University of Nevada Reno
The decision of the hearing officers will be delivered in writing to both parties. This written decision will also include steps to take to appeal it. At the University of Nevada Reno, parties have seven calendar days to submit their appeal. Appeals can only be made on the following grounds:
- There was a procedural irregularity that affected the outcome
- New evidence exists now that was not reasonably available at the time of the hearing that may affect the outcome
- The Title IX Coordinator, investigator, or hearing officers had a conflict of interest or bias for or against one of the parties that affected the outcome
- Any additional basis the university offers
Once the university receives the appeal, they have ten days to issue their decision. They will either decide to modify the sanctions imposed, dismiss the issue altogether, or remand it for further review. Either way, this decision is final and cannot be appealed further. Therefore, it is really important to put your best effort into your appeal as it is your last chance of upholding your college dream.
How a Skilled Attorney-Advisor Can Help
Title IX violation and sexual misconduct allegations can have long-lasting consequences in addition to the sanctions imposed by the hearing officers. For instance, the university's top priority will be to separate you and the complainant. This could mean having you change dormitories, revoking your ability to house on campus, having you change class schedules or study groups, or even ejecting you from your Greek sorority or fraternity. Additionally, if you are found responsible and given a suspension or expulsion, you will have to explain those punishments on future college or graduate applications. This is especially true if you hope for a career in law where law schools and character examinations ask you to discuss even minor issues like traffic tickets and lower grades.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm have years of experience helping college students in a similar situation. They will help you defend yourself from such unnecessary consequences and preserve your place on campus. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.