Sexual Misconduct Charges at Marshall University

Here's the first thing you should know if your university has charged you with sexual misconduct: the situation is serious. Investigations are often slanted in favor of accusers. Campus judicial procedures can be complex and difficult to navigate. If you are found responsible (guilty), you likely face at least suspension and probably expulsion.

Here's the second thing you should know: the situation is so serious you can't afford to handle it all on your own. Make no mistake: you need to be prepared. That means knowing exactly how your school handles these cases. You can find a lot of that information here. You're going to need help, too, though. If you've been accused, or if you think you might be accused, the best thing you can do is contact a Title IX attorney immediately.

Title IX Sexual Misconduct

Defending yourself begins with understanding Title IX. Almost all sexual misconduct cases at Marshall University are Title IX cases, and those that aren't are still heavily influenced by Title IX.

In simplest terms, Title IX is a federal law that prohibits all forms of sexual discrimination and harassment on college campuses. In addition to this prohibition itself, the law also includes a set of rigid guidelines that dictate exactly how schools must handle all allegations.

Here's how Marshall University interprets those guidelines.

  • All Title IX cases originate with your school's Title IX Coordinator. Anyone at your school may report you for sexual misconduct, but only a Complainant (alleged victim) or the Coordinator may sign an official complaint.
  • If you are charged, you're entitled to written notice of those charges. This notice should include the name of the Complainant as well as details of the allegation.
  • Title IX gives you a number of additional rights, including
    • The right to an advisor, who may be an attorney
    • The right to be presumed “not responsible” (innocent) until proven “responsible” (guilty)
    • The right to be treated equally to the Complainant in all matters
    • The right to review all evidence against you
    • The right to advanced notice of all meetings and proceedings in the case
    • The right to be investigated and adjudicated by non-biased individuals
  • The Coordinator is also responsible for appointing an Investigator to the case. This investigator should meet separately with both sides. In addition, they gather any physical evidence and interview any relevant witnesses.
  • At the conclusion of the investigation, the Investigator is tasked with writing an unbiased summary of their findings. Both sides have the right to review this report and to suggest revisions before it is eventually forwarded to the Title IX Coordinator.
  • Once the Coordinator receives the Investigative Report, they set a date and time for a live hearing and select members of a review panel to conduct the proceedings.
  • At the hearing, you may make arguments, present evidence, and call witnesses to testify on your behalf. In addition, you may—through your advisors—cross-examine each other and any other witnesses against you.
  • If you do not have an advisor, the school must appoint one for you. However, it is under no obligation to provide you with an attorney.
  • At the conclusion of the hearing, the members of the panel decide, based on a majority vote, whether or not you are responsible for a Title IX violation. In doing so, they use a legal standard known as “Preponderance of Evidence.” Less strict than “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt,” this standard requires them to find you responsible if they are more than fifty percent convinced you committed an offense.
  • Finally, you have the right to appeal the hearing decision. All appeals are heard by MU's Title IX Appeal Officer.

Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct

For many years, all sexual misconduct cases were Title IX cases. That's no longer true. In 2020, the Trump administration revised Title IX definitions and guidelines, setting off a protracted debate that continues today. Among other changes, the administration narrowed the meanings of “discrimination” and “harassment” and limited schools' jurisdictional authority. As a result, some sexual misconduct, such as incidents that occur off-campus, is no longer covered under the law.

A number of schools, including Marshall University, took issue with these changes. Some universities actually sued the federal government to prevent them from taking effect. When that didn't work, they re-wrote their own school policies to cover these so-called “non-Title IX” offenses. MU's Student Code of Conduct, for instance, clearly prohibits “Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Harassment, and Interpersonal Misconduct,” no matter where it may occur.

Because non-Title IX cases aren't subject to federal law, schools are under no obligation to follow any particular set of procedures or to provide students with any particular due process rights. For example, at MU,

  • Students in non-Title IX cases aren't immediately entitled to a hearing. Instead, a single administrator meets with both sides before rendering a judgment and assigning a sanction. You can request a hearing, but only after the administrator has issued their decision.
  • At a hearing, complainants can choose not to testify. Unlike in Title IX cases, you don't have the right to cross-examine the Complainant unless they choose to testify.
  • At a hearing, neither you nor your advisor may ask witnesses questions directly. Instead, all questions must be submitted to the hearing panel who actually do the asking.

How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?

It should be clear at this point why you need an attorney to help you with your sexual misconduct case. It's no easy task to mount a defense when the rules are this complicated. You don't want just any attorney, though. You need one who knows the law and who has experience representing student clients.

Joseph D. Lento is a fully-qualified defense attorney. He's not just any defense attorney, though. Joseph D. Lento is what's known as 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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