What do you do if you're facing an accusation of sexual misconduct from your college or university? First, you take it seriously. It is no exaggeration to say that your entire future is on the line. If you're found “Responsible” (guilty), the minimum punishment is likely suspension. In most cases, though, schools expel students for sexually-based offenses. If you're expelled, it will almost certainly include a transcript notation about why you were dismissed. That can keep you from enrolling anywhere else. Your academic career could be over.
Take your charge seriously, but don't let it overwhelm you. You are facing an uphill battle, but you don't have to face it alone. The law gives you the right to an advisor and to choose an advisor who is an attorney. A Title IX attorney, someone who understands how sexual misconduct cases work and who has experience representing student clients, can stand beside you from start to finish, make sure your university treats you fairly, and see that you get the very best possible resolution to your case.
So, take a deep breath and let it out. Find out as much as you can about what you're facing. Then, contact the Law Offices of Joseph D. Lento to find out how we can help.
Title IX and Sexual Misconduct
Understanding the charges against you begins with an understanding of Title IX. Title IX is a federal law that requires all federally-funded schools to do everything in their power to eradicate sexual discrimination and harassment on campus. That means colleges and universities are essentially required to investigate and adjudicate all but the most obviously spurious accusations of sexual misconduct.
To help in this process, Title IX also includes a set of guidelines, mandating the investigation and adjudication procedures schools must follow in such cases.
You can find out more about how Webster University interprets these guidelines by examining the school's own Title IX Policy on Sex Discrimination, Including Sexual Harassment. For now, though, here are the highlights of that document.
- Like all schools, WU has a Title IX Coordinator. All official complaints originate in this office.
- Any time you are under investigation for a Title IX offense, you are entitled to a Notice of the Charges. This notice should include the name of the Complainant and the details of the allegation, as well as a list of your rights under the law.
- Among the rights granted to you by Title IX, you have the right to
- Equal treatment to the Complainant in all matters
- An advisor, who may be an attorney
- Advanced notification of all meetings and hearings
- Review all evidence in the case
- Investigators and decision-makers who are free of bias
- A presumption of Not Responsible (innocent) until proven Responsible
- The first half of every case is a full investigation. The Investigator is appointed by the Title IX Coordinator. The Investigator meets separately with both sides of the case. In addition, they collect any physical evidence and interview any potential witnesses.
- Investigations at WU can last up to 90 days. At the end of the investigation, the Investigator compiles their findings into an unbiased Investigative Report. Both sides have ten days to review this document and suggest any necessary revisions.
- Ultimately, the Investigative Report is forwarded to the Title IX Coordinator. The Coordinator then initiates the next phase of the case: a live hearing overseen by an appointed Decision-Maker.
- At the hearing itself, you may present evidence and call witnesses to testify on your behalf. In addition, you may cross-examine the Complainant and any witnesses against you. However, your advisor must conduct all cross-examination. If you do not have an advisor, the school must provide one, though they are under no obligation to provide you with an attorney.
- At the end of the hearing, the Decision-Maker deliberates as to your level of responsibility in the case. In making their decision, they use a legal standard known as “Preponderance of Evidence.” This standard requires them to find you Responsible if they believe it is “more likely than not” that you committed an offense.
- You have the right to Notice of the Outcome of the hearing. Once you've received this, you have ten days in which to file an appeal. However, appeals are granted for only three reasons:
- The discovery of new evidence that has a direct bearing on the case outcome
- Procedural errors that may have affected the outcome
- Bias on the part of a Title IX official
Finally, it's important to note that not every accusation of sexual misconduct is subject to a Title IX investigation. The federal government issued new guidelines in 2020 that restrict how the law is implemented. As part of these new guidelines, off-campus incidents are no longer covered under the law.
Some schools have elected to handle these so-called “Non-Title IX cases” using their own student conduct procedures.
However, Webster University's policy notes that the school will only investigate Title IX misconduct.
How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?
Joseph D. Lento is a fully-licensed, fully-qualified defense attorney. He's not just a defense attorney, though. Joseph D. Lento is what's known as a Title IX attorney. Here's what that means: Joseph D. Lento built his career defending students just like you from sexual misconduct charges. He has studied the law and knows it inside and out. In addition, Joseph D. Lento knows how schools operate. He knows the tactics they often use, and he knows how to counter those tactics. Most importantly, though, Joseph D. Lento is on your side. He understands what you're going through, and he'll do everything he can to make sure you're treated fairly and that you get the best possible resolution to your case.
If you or your child has been accused of sexual misconduct, don't wait to see what the school or the other side will do. Begin building your case now. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.