You never expect to be fighting for your position on campus when you start college. You are focusing on passing your classes and building friendships. So, getting accused of a Title IX violation or another act of sexual misconduct can be extremely jarring. What steps do you take next? Who can you trust? Attorney-advisors, like attorney Joseph D. Lento and the expert team at the Lento Law Firm, work diligently to protect accused students from unnecessary punishments. They will gather relevant evidence, interview witnesses, and create a strategic defense that will not only guarantee the best possible outcome for your case but ensure the administration upholds your due process rights. Call the Lento Law Firm today.
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 North Carolina Wilmington is committed to providing an environment free of discrimination or harassment, including sexual misconduct, which usually includes sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking.
What Happens After an Allegation of Sexual Misconduct at the University of North Carolina Wilmington?
All students, faculty, and staff are expected to report any information regarding a Title IX violation or an act of sexual misconduct as soon as they become aware of it. Once the Title IX Coordinator learns of the complaint, they will interview the complainant further. If during that interview, they determine that there is enough preliminary information to warrant a formal complaint, they will ask the complainant to file one. There are some cases where the complainant may not want to pursue a formal complaint, but the Title IX Coordinator decides to file one anyway. But it is important to note that this does not make the Title IX Coordinator a party to the hearing.
Following the filing of the formal complaint, the Title IX Coordinator notified the trained Title IX investigator. The investigator will set up interviews with the complainant and the accused student, gather documentary evidence, and interview relevant witnesses. When they finish the investigation, they will send their formal investigative report to the Director of Title IX and Clery Compliance, who will review it and determine if a hearing is appropriate.
If a hearing is granted, the complainant and accused study will receive notice of it and the formal investigative report – which can be used as a jumping off point for your defense at the hearing. Sometimes, hearings are not granted, but the complainant has five days to challenge this decision. So, you should still be prepared to defend yourself the moment you find out about these allegations.
The Director of Title IX and Clery Compliance will appoint an external hearing officer to oversee the matter. Both parties will have equal opportunities to present their arguments, evidence, and witnesses. You will then have the chance to cross-examine the other party's witnesses and evidence. After both parties have been heard fully, the hearing officer will meet separately to determine if the accused student is responsible for committing a Title IX violation or another act of sexual misconduct. They will also decide which sanctions to impose, if necessary.
Possible sanctions might include:
- Disciplinary probation
- University housing transfer or removal
- Educational sanctions
- Written warning
- Expulsion or permanent separation
- Transcript hold
Appealing a Sexual Misconduct or Title IX Violation Decision at the University of North Carolina Wilmington
Both parties will have the right to appeal the outcome of the matter. Usually, the instructions for an appeal will be delivered with the official grievance decision. At the University of North Carolina Wilmington, the parties must appeal within two business days after receiving notice of the decision-maker's determination.
Appeals can only be filed on the following grounds:
- There was a violation of the rights that were guaranteed
- 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 sanctions are too severe for the violation
Once an appeal is received, the Appeal Panel will review the matter and issue a decision within fifteen business days. The panel has the ability to approve, reject, or modify the decision-maker's decision or to remand it back down for further review. If you are appealing a suspension or expulsion decision, you will have multiple chances to appeal. For other sanctions, the panel's decision is final and cannot be appealed further.
If the thought of filing an appeal, or defending yourself further after the grievance process, is devastating and confusing, an Attorney-advisor can help lessen that stress.
How a Skilled Attorney-Advisor Can Help
Being accused of a Title IX violation or an act of sexual misconduct can have far-reaching consequences. If you are expelled or suspended because of these allegations, the university will notate the punishment on your transcripts. Every time you apply to a graduate program, a new school, or even certain jobs, you will have to provide these transcripts to the admissions department. Most admissions counselors will want to discuss the notations before offering you admission. And it is important to note that punishments like these will make getting into future programs extremely difficult.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the expert team at the Lento Law Firm are skilled attorney-advisors with years of experience helping college students protect themselves against unnecessary sanctions, including dismissals. Attorney Lento and his team will work diligently to preserve your place on campus. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.