Getting into college is an incredible feat for even the best of students. You worked so hard in high school, making sure to take the right classes, joined the perfect clubs, and acing your exams; you never expect to be facing sexual misconduct or Title IX violation accusations that could derail your entire college career. All your hard work could be washed down the drain in the blink of any eye.
If you or someone you love has been accused of these violations at the University of Utah, contact Attorney Joseph D Lento and Lento Law Firm today. Attorney Lento has years of experience helping students across the country navigate complex sexual misconduct and Title IX violation allegations. You do not have to weather this storm alone. Ensure your university upholds your rights by calling the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.
What Is Title IX?
Title IX is a federal regulation that creates a specific standard that all federally funded colleges and universities must uphold when managing sexual discrimination and sexual violence on their campus. These standards 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
Utah State University prohibits discrimination and sexual misconduct, which they define as sexual assault, sexual harassment, relationship violence, or sex-based stalking.
What Happens After an Allegation of Sexual Misconduct at Utah State University?
Once an allegation is made, the Title IX Coordinator will notify the accused student and perform an initial review to determine if the described conduct falls within the scope of Title IX or sexual misconduct that is not gender-based. They will then begin a more formal investigation.
This investigation will include interviews with both the complainant and the accused student, as well as any relevant witnesses. The assigned investigator will review all the evidence and present their official report to the hearing panel. This report will also be distributed to both the complainant and the accused student for them to review and respond to.
If the accused student admits responsibility, the grievance process will move from the investigation stage to the sanctions stage immediately. But if the accused student does not admit responsibility, they will be notified of a specific date for the hearing and what is expected of them.
It should be noted that USU allows students to have an independent process advisor to attend meetings and help advocate on their behalf. This independent process advisor is usually an attorney who can help navigate the complexity of the proceedings.
The Hearing Panel will review the investigation report and hear both sides of the case. In the end, they will deliberate on whether there is enough evidence to find the accused student responsible for either an act of sexual misconduct or a Title IX violation. If they do, they will also determine which sanctions are appropriate.
Sanctions can range from:
- A warning
- Education training
- Referrals to counseling
- On-going no contact orders
- Withholding of degrees
Appealing a Sexual Misconduct or Title IX Violation Decision at Utah State University
Both parties have the opportunity to appeal the decision of the Hearing Panel within ten days. Appeals can only be made on the following grounds:
- The hearing outcome isn't supported by substantial evidence
- There were prejudicial errors that impacted the hearing outcome to such a degree
- New evidence is present that was not reasonably available during the hearing and would have affected the Hearing Officer's decision
- The sanction(s) imposed do not match the severity of the conduct
An appeals panel will review the matter and make a determination of whether to affirm the original decision, amend the sanctions, or have a new hearing panel review the case once more. Whatever the outcome of the appeal, it is final and cannot be appealed further.
How a Seasoned Attorney-Advisor Can Help
No matter the determination of responsibility, the simple allegation of a Title IX violation or an incident of sexual misconduct can have lifelong consequences. For instance, the potential harm to your reputation can be extensive. Students and teachers may make their minds up about you long before they ever meet you. It may become harder to make friends and even harder to find allies. You need someone to protect your reputation as much as anything else.
Additionally, if you are adjudicated responsible and are punished with suspension or expulsion, it will follow you around forever. Even if you are to overcome the challenges associated with such sanctions and earn your college degree, the unfortunate reality is that every graduate school application, government job application, and even some professional employers, will ask about prior discipline and require you to explain the incident. Medical and other professional schools, and law school applications and state bar admissions, in particular, will require you to rehash the entire situation over and over again.
This is why working with an experienced attorney-advisor from the moment you learn of the allegations is so important. Attorney advisors, like Attorney Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm, have the know-how and fighting attitude to ensure the best possible outcome. Attorney Lento and his team will go to bat for your future and work tirelessly to mitigate any negative consequences that might come up. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.