Few things can happen to you at college that are as serious as an allegation of sexual misconduct. The minimum penalty most schools assign for violations is suspension. Expulsion is far more likely.
Given what is at stake, you might expect that schools would make it as easy as possible for students to defend themselves against such charges. The fact is most policies are incredibly confusing. Justice procedures are often weighted in favor of accusers. The investigation and hearing process are complicated and difficult to navigate.
Given these facts, what do you do if you should find yourself accused?
First, find out all you can about how your school treats such allegations. The more you know, the better able you'll be to defend yourself.
Second, contact a qualified attorney with experience dealing with school misconduct cases. You need to know what you're facing. Just as importantly, though, you need to know that you can't handle this situation alone.
Understanding the Law
In many ways, schools are little islands unto themselves within our society. That's important when it comes to “crimes.” Students, of course, are subject to the US criminal code just like anyone else and can be arrested for things like vandalism and murder. However, your college cannot arrest you, and while it has a justice system, that system doesn't typically work like a court of law.
When it comes to sexual misconduct, then, your school can't send you to jail, but it can punish you, including removing you from the university altogether. One mechanism for doing this is the federal government's Title IX statute. This law, passed in 1972, prohibited sexual discrimination in US educational programs. For a number of years, schools have used Title IX to justify investigating, adjudicating, and punishing students who committed any sort of sexually motivated crime, from simple harassment to sexual assault and rape.
Things changed significantly in 2020. The government introduced a new set of guidelines for how schools should deal with such cases. In the wake of these changes, many schools developed a whole new category of violations, termed “non-Title IX” sexual misconduct. The procedures in these cases can be significantly different from those associated with Title IX.
For now, though, Keiser University continues to treat every sexual misconduct case using Title IX. This is to your advantage. It means if you've been accused, you only need to familiarize yourself with how this law works.
Title IX at Keiser University
Recent changes to how Title IX is enforced have helped to standardize the investigation and adjudication processes. However, some elements of these processes are still set by individual schools. The following describes the basic Title IX procedures at Keiser University.
- All official Title IX complaints originate with the school's designated Title IX Coordinator. Only a complainant (accuser) or the coordinator themselves may sign an official complaint.
- Once a complaint is signed, respondents (defendants) are entitled to notification of the allegation. This notification should include the identity of the complainant as well as a full description of the alleged violation.
- The school is obligated to offer support services to the complainant, including medical care and counseling, and Keiser offers additional options such as course schedule changes. According to Title IX, the school must offer respondents the same support services.
- Title IX mandates that KU presume all respondents are innocent until proven guilty.
- Title IX also guarantees both parties the right to appoint an advisor to help them with the case. This advisor can be an attorney.
- Once a complaint is filed, the Title IX coordinator appoints an investigator. This person interviews both parties, talks with witnesses, and collects any physical evidence related to the case.
- At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigator creates a preliminary report summarizing their findings. Both sides then have the opportunity to respond to this report before it is submitted to the Title IX Coordinator.
- Next, the Title IX Coordinator sets a hearing date and appoints a Decision-maker to preside over the actual hearing. This hearing must be conducted live, but either side may request it be held via closed-circuit video.
- At the hearing, both parties may submit evidence and call witnesses. Both sides have the right to cross-examine witnesses as well as each other. However, only advisors and the Decision-maker can actually ask questions.
- At Keiser, the Decision-maker uses the “clear and convincing” standard to decide whether or not a respondent is “responsible” (guilty). Somewhat less strict than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard, clear and convincing means the Decision-maker must believe it is highly probable a violation occurred.
- If the Decision-maker finds the student responsible, they also assign an appropriate sanction.
- Finally, both sides have the right to appeal the hearing decision, but only for very specific reasons:
- The discovery of new evidence relevant to the case
- The demonstration of procedural errors
- The demonstration of bias on the part of a Title IX official
Like most schools, Keiser University lists several potential sanctions for sexual misconduct. However, make no mistake: expulsion is always the most likely penalty.
Joseph D. Lento, Sexual Misconduct Attorney
A sexual misconduct defense can be tricky. You don't just have to contend with all the tiny details in the law; you also have to deal with the vagaries of how your specific college interprets those details. That's why it only makes sense to take advantage of your right to have a lawyer by your side.
Joseph D. Lento is a Title IX attorney. That means he's spent his career studying the law. In fact, Joseph D. Lento has represented hundreds of students, just like you, from all kinds of sexual misconduct charges. He knows how to use the subtleties of Title IX to your advantage, and he knows how to stand up to university administrators who might try to deny you your rights. Joseph D. Lento is on your side. He's serious about making sure you get the very best possible resolution to your case.
If you or your child has been accused of sexual misconduct by your college or university, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm today at 888-555-3686 or by using our automated online form.