Sexual Misconduct Charges at Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville

What do you do if you find yourself accused of sexual misconduct? You get help, fast.

Everything is at stake in a sexual misconduct case, and it's no easy task to defend yourself.

  • The minimum penalty is usually suspension. The more likely penalty is expulsion.
  • The rules for investigations and hearings are complicated and difficult to navigate. For instance, there are different processes for different kinds of allegations.
  • The rules aren't always fair. For example, the school doesn't have to find you guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” to punish you.
  • Your school doesn't want to look soft on sex offenders, so it may tend to favor the Complainant.

You've got one thing going for you: you have the right to choose an advisor to help you defend yourself, and this advisor can be an attorney. Given what's at stake, you need to take full advantage of this right. Not only should you retain a lawyer, but you should choose one who has experience with student disciplinary conduct cases and who knows Title IX.

Title IX Sexual Misconduct

One of the complications with sexual misconduct accusations is that Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville doesn't have one policy on sexual misconduct; it has two. The schools deal with most cases using Title IX, a federal law. Title IX, passed in 1972, outlawed all forms of sexual discrimination and harassment in US education programs. That prohibition includes sexual assault, dating violence, and rape.

In addition, Title IX includes a complex set of rules and procedures for how schools must go about investigating and adjudicating allegations. The complete set of rules runs to some 550 pages, and that doesn't include memorandums that have been issued in the last several years that are meant to explain those rules. SIUE's own Title IX policy reduces that set of rules down to its most important components, but it's still pretty complicated.

Here's just a sampling of how investigations and hearings are supposed to work.

  • Your school has a designated Title IX Coordinator. Anyone at your school may report knowledge of a sexually-based offense, but only a Complainant (alleged victim) or the Coordinator may sign a formal complaint against you.
  • As soon as you are charged, you are entitled to formal Notification of the Charges. This notification should include details about the allegation as well as the name of the Complainant. In addition, it should apprise you of your rights, including the right to be presumed “Not Responsible” (not guilty), the right to unbiased investigators and decision-makers, and the right to review all evidence against you.
  • Next, the Coordinator appoints an Investigator. This person meets separately with both sides in the case. In addition, they interview any witnesses and collect any physical evidence.
  • Once the investigation is complete, the Investigator writes an unbiased summary of their findings. This will become the foundation for the hearing to follow.
  • Investigations must be concluded within 90 days. At the conclusion, the Investigator writes an unbiased summary of their findings. Both sides then have ten days to contest anything they disagree with in this report.
  • Once the Coordinator receives the Investigative Report, they set a date and time for a live hearing and appoint a Hearing Officer to oversee the proceedings.
  • The hearing offers you an opportunity to make your case in person. 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. Note: only advisors may conduct witness examinations.
  • At the conclusion of the hearing, the Decision Maker must determine your level of responsibility in the matter. To do this, they use a legal standard known as “Preponderance of Evidence.” According to this standard, they are required to find you responsible if they believe it is “more likely than not” that you committed an offense.
  • You may appeal the outcome within five days of being notified of that outcome. However, grounds for appeal are limited to
    • Procedural irregularity
    • New evidence
    • Bias or conflict of interest
  • The Complainant may appeal the outcome as well.

Non-Title IX Cases

Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville maintains a second set of procedures for what's known as “non-Title IX” sexual misconduct cases.

In 2020, the Trump administration issued new guidelines for how Title IX should be enforced, narrowing the definitions of “discrimination” and “harassment”, and limiting schools' jurisdictional authority. As a result, some types of misconduct were no longer covered under Title IX. For instance, off-campus incidents no longer meet the law's stricter definitions.

SIUE and many other schools responded by enacting their own school policies designed to handle any cases that might otherwise fall through the cracks. Because these cases are not subject to the law, schools are free to utilize any investigative procedures they choose. They have no obligation, for instance, to provide respondents with any particular due process rights.

In fact, SIUE's non-Title IX procedures are significantly different than mandated Title IX procedures. Among the differences:

  • Cases aren't handled by the Title IX Coordinator.
  • An official from the Office of Equal Opportunity and Access conducts the investigation.
  • You may select an advisor, and this advisor may be an attorney. However, your advisor may not directly address officials during any proceedings.
  • You are not entitled to a hearing. Instead, at the end of the investigation, the appointed official decides whether or not you are responsible for a violation and assigns you a sanction

How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?

It should already be clear by this point why you need an attorney to help you with your case. The procedures are complicated. You may be at a serious disadvantage under campus judicial rules. You're not entitled to the same minimum due process rights as defendants in the US justice system. You need the best help you can find to help you defend yourself.

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. 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.

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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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