Sexual Misconduct Charges at Indiana State University

As a student, you cannot afford to take any accusation of sexual misconduct lightly. If you're accused, the minimum penalty you're probably facing is suspension. More likely, you'll be expelled if the school finds you responsible for a violation. Either of these punishments can seriously disrupt your education. Expulsion may also come with a transcript notation about the nature of your offense, and that could end your college career altogether. You won't find many schools willing to consider a transfer applicant with a record of sexual offenses.

What does it mean to take this situation seriously, though? It means finding out everything you can about how your school handles such allegations. What do investigations look like? Will you have a chance to defend yourself at a hearing? It also means finding the very best legal representation you can.

Title IX, the law that governs most sexual misconduct cases, entitles you to choose an advisor. This advisor doesn't have to be an attorney, but your accuser will likely have an attorney on their side. The school may very well have one as well. Your chances of success may rest on whether or not you've chosen an advisor who understands the law, has experience with the process, and knows how to construct a competent defense. There's just too much at stake to risk handing your defense over to a faculty member or a parent.

Title IX and Sexual Misconduct

Most sexual misconduct cases are handled using guidelines set forth by Title IX, so understanding your situation is largely dependent on knowing just what Title IX is and what it says.

Title IX is a federal law originally passed in 1972 that prohibits sexual discrimination and harassment on university campuses. The courts have interpreted “discrimination” and “harassment” to include all forms of sexual misconduct, from simple verbal harassment to dating violence, sexual assault, and even rape. Schools are required to address all allegations, or they risk losing federal funding. As a result, all schools hold students accountable for misconduct. In doing so, however, they must follow the rules set down in Title IX for conducting investigations and holding hearings.

The history of Title IX has not been without controversy. In 2020, for example, the Trump administration re-wrote the rules, narrowing the definitions of “discrimination” and “harassment” and limiting schools' jurisdictional authority. As a result, Title IX doesn't cover the same kinds of misconduct it did prior to 2020. Off-campus incidents, for instance, aren't currently considered Title IX violations.

Many schools took issue with these new rules and adopted their own sexual misconduct policies in response, policies that include alternative procedures for dealing with so-called “non-Title IX” offenses. Consequently, defending yourself from charges is now more complicated than ever.

Title IX Procedures

Luckily, Indiana State University has chosen to apply Title IX procedures to all of its misconduct cases, whether those cases fit within the strict definition of the law or not. Title IX rules aren't perfect, but they guarantee you a number of important rights as a “respondent” (defendant).

Here's a brief overview of how ISU interprets these rules.

  • Indiana State is required to have a Title IX Coordinator. This individual oversees all aspects of the school's Title IX policy and decides whether or not a particular allegation warrants an official investigation.
  • If the Coordinator opens an investigation against you, they must provide you with written notice of the charges. This notice should include the name of the Complainant, details about the allegation, and a list of your rights under Title IX. Among these, you have the right to:
    • Select an advisor, who may be an attorney
    • Be presumed “not responsible” (innocent) until proven “responsible” (guilty)
    • Be treated as equal to the Complainant in all matters
    • Review all evidence against you
    • Receive advanced notice of all meetings and proceedings in the case
    • Be investigated and judged by non-biased officials
  • Once you've been notified of the charges, the Coordinator selects an Investigator to uncover the basic facts of the case.
  • The Investigator meets separately with both sides to get a clear sense of the competing versions of events. In addition, they interview witnesses and collect any physical evidence.
  • Once the investigation is complete, the Investigator submits an unbiased report summarizing their findings.
  • Both sides then have ten days in which to review the Investigative Report and suggest any revisions.
  • Having received the Investigative Report, the Title IX Coordinator sets a date and time for a live hearing. In addition, they appoint members to a hearing panel that will actually conduct the proceedings.
  • At the hearing itself, both sides may make arguments, present evidence, and call witnesses. In addition, you may—through your advisors—cross-examine each other and any witnesses against you.
  • Once the hearing is concluded, members of the panel decide, based on a majority vote, whether or not you are responsible for a Title IX violation. To do this, they employ a legal standard known as “Preponderance of Evidence.” In simple terms, 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 further right to appeal the panel's decision to the school's Chancellor. However, grounds for appeal are generally limited to:
    • Procedural irregularities that affected the case outcome
    • New evidence that could have affected the case outcome
    • Bias on the part of a Title IX official that could have affected the case outcome

How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?

By this point, you probably have a pretty good sense of why you might need an attorney if you're charged with a sexually-based offense. Your entire future is at stake, and procedures in these cases are complex and difficult to navigate. In fact, the actual Title IX guidelines run to some 550 pages, and that doesn't include government memorandums and judicial opinions that have been issued to provide further guidance for how Title IX should be implemented. This isn't something you can handle on your own. You need professional help.

Joseph D. Lento is a fully-qualified defense attorney. He's not just any defense attorney, though. Joseph D. Lento is a Title IX attorney. That means he specializes in handling campus sexual misconduct cases. He understands Title IX, its history, and its politics, but he's also experienced in dealing with non-Title IX cases. Joseph D. Lento has dedicated his career to fighting for student rights. Over the years, he has handled hundreds of cases for students just like you, making sure they're treated fairly and that they get the justice they deserve.

If you or your child has been accused of sexual misconduct, don't wait to act. The school is already preparing its case. You should be too. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.

Contact Us Today!

If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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