Sexual misconduct is among the most serious accusations anyone can have leveled against them. If your college or university has accused you, they can't send you to prison, but they can ruin your future. Typically, the minimum penalty in such cases is suspension. The more likely outcome is expulsion. Often, an expulsion comes with a transcript notation about the nature of your offense. That can prevent you from enrolling anywhere else, and it can hinder your chances at a good first job.
At the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, or any school for that matter, it's no easy matter to fight an accusation on your own – talking with investigators, tracking down witnesses, developing a defense strategy for your hearing. Many schools, including the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, have multiple procedures for dealing with these cases, and it may be some time before you even know which one your school is using. The hard truth is, you need help.
So, read on, and learn all you can about how these cases usually unfold at the University of Louisiana, Lafayette. Once you've done that, though, your best option is to contact a qualified Title IX attorney who can help you make sense of it all.
For many years Title IX was the primary tool colleges and universities used to deal with allegations of sexual misconduct. Even today, most cases fall within the parameters of Title IX. As a result, it makes sense to start preparing your defense by understanding exactly what this law has to say.
Title IX is a federal law passed in 1972 that prohibits sexual discrimination and harassment at all US educational programs. While the law originally addressed schools, it eventually came to apply mainly to students. Today, it contains the guidelines for how all colleges and universities must investigate and adjudicate accusations.
- First, all schools must have a Title IX Coordinator. This official receives all complaints. It's important to note that at ULL, all employees are required to report any knowledge they may have of misconduct. However, only a complainant or the Coordinator can actually sign a complaint.
- Once a Coordinator has formally charged you, they must provide you with notification of those charges. This should include the name of the complainant as well as a description of the alleged incident. In addition, notice should apprise you of your rights. Among these, you have the right to be presumed “not responsible” (innocent) and the right to select an advisor to help you with the case. This advisor can be—and should be—an attorney.
- At ULL, the Coordinator next conducts a complete investigation. They meet at different times with both you and the complainant. They collect any physical evidence like photos or text messages. They also try to find and interview witnesses.
- At the conclusion of the investigation, the Coordinator completes a written report summarizing the evidence they have gathered. Both sides have ten days in which to read this report and raise any objections to its content.
- Once the investigative report is complete, the Coordinator appoints a Decision-Maker to oversee the hearing portion of the case. Hearings must be held live, but either party may request the use of accommodations such as concealing screens or closed-circuit video.
- At the hearing, both sides have the opportunity—through their advisors—to present their case. In addition to submitting evidence, you may call witnesses. You may also cross-examine the other party and any witnesses against you.
- At the conclusion of the hearing, the Decision-Maker determines whether or not you are responsible for a violation. To do this, they use the “preponderance of evidence” standard. Less strict than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” this standard requires only that the Decision-Maker determine whether it is “more likely than not” that you committed sexual misconduct.
- Finally, both sides are allowed to appeal the Decision-Maker's findings. Appeals must be made within five days of the end of the hearing, and they can only be made for certain very specific reasons:
- Discovery of new evidence
- Procedural irregularities
- Conflict of interest or bias on the part of a Title IX official
Non-Title IX Cases
Title IX changed substantially in 2020 when the Trump administration issued its “Final Rule.” Among other things, the Final Rule narrowed the definitions of discrimination and harassment and limited schools' jurisdictional authority. Many schools, including ULL, were unhappy with these changes because they felt they weakened their ability to effectively deal with sexual misconduct. In response, they created new sexual misconduct policies designed to address misconduct no longer covered by Title IX. Since they were outside the government's purview, these so-called “non-Title IX” cases were often dealt with under a different set of procedures as well.
At ULL, for instance, non-Title IX sexual misconduct isn't subject to a formal investigation. Instead, according to the Code of Student Conduct, the Director of Student Rights and Responsibilities appoints an Administrative Hearing Officer (AHO) to conduct a hearing into the matter. At this hearing, the Officer is responsible for gathering evidence and interviewing any relevant witnesses.
At the end of the hearing process, the AHO uses the “preponderance of evidence” standard to determine whether you are responsible or not.
Both sides can appeal the AHO's decision, again under narrow conditions. However, if you should be expelled—a common sanction in such cases—you automatically qualify for an appeal hearing.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento Specializes in Title IX Sexual Misconduct Defense
A university sexual misconduct case can be complex and difficult to navigate. At the same time, everything is at stake. You can't afford to deal with this situation yourself.
Joseph D. Lento is a highly qualified and experienced attorney who specializes in Title IX sexual misconduct cases at the college and university level. Attorney Lento and his team have helped hundreds of students fight and defeat sexual misconduct accusations across the United States. He knows the law; he knows how schools operate. Whether you're looking to prove your innocence or to negotiate a settlement that will let you complete your academic career, attorney Joseph D. Lento has the background and the skills to get you the justice you deserve.
If you or your child has been accused of sexual misconduct, don't wait to act. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form