If someone has accused you or a loved one of sexual misconduct at the University of Texas at El Paso, you will likely feel concerned. Allegations of sexual misconduct come with a lot of burden, and it is an intimidating thing to be looking down the barrel of your school's formal disciplinary process. Though it might seem overwhelming, all is not lost. You have rights, and the school must give you your due process, so you should let the school browbeat you into submission. Securing an experienced attorney advisor and familiarizing yourself with school policy regarding the investigation, hearing, and time limits to appeal will give you the best possible chance to safeguard your future.
Sexual Misconduct on Campus and Title IX
Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sexual harassment in educational institutions across the United States. The of Title IX sexual harassment is “unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to an education program or activity.” All institutions that receive federal funding have to abide by Title IX.
Schools must investigate allegations of Title IX sexual harassment via a specific grievance procedure. They have to comply with up-to-date federal regulations issued by the Department of Education.
Schools and colleges also have their own codes of conduct, school rules, and policies. Schools will have their own general disciplinary procedures, which they use to discipline students for violating these policies. If someone has accused you of sexual misconduct, you might be under investigation for violating individual school policies in addition to, or instead of, Title IX.
In recent years, school sexual misconduct policies have become a hot-button issue. Previous Governments have made significant changes to how Title IX should be implemented and the range of sexual misconduct it prohibits. After the definition of Title IX, sexual harassment was narrowed, many schools, including the University of Texas, have continued to discipline sexual misconduct, which no longer comes under Title IX, under their own policies.
The University of Texas at El Paso has a sexual misconduct policy that prohibits sexual harassment, sexual exploitation, and other kinds of misconduct that don't necessarily fall under Title IX. The grievance process, which is Title IX compliant, is the same whether or not.
Title IX is an extremely fraught issue, and with so many policy changes and moving parts, it is more important than it ever has been in the past that you familiarize yourself carefully with school policy and secure an experienced advisor to protect your interests.
Sexual Misconduct Policy at the University of Texas at El Paso
The University of Texas at El Paso lays out its sexual misconduct policy, with its policies and procedures for dealing with sexual misconduct in its Handbook of Operating Procedures. If someone suspects you of having violated this policy, they can report you to the Title IX Coordinator or Title IX Deputy Coordinators.
People sometimes simply go to the Title IX coordinators for support or make an anonymous report. Depending on the allegation and whether or not it would come under Title IX, this does not necessarily initiate the grievance process. In some cases, the Title IX coordinators will then work to help you and your accuser reach an informal (non-punitive) resolution.
However, when someone files a formal complaint about you, they trigger a formal grievance process. The Title IX Coordinator will oversee this process.
The school will need to give you your due process, according to Title IX and their own policy. By law, the school must follow a required timeframe and give you an opportunity to defend yourself from allegations. The school must allow you to have an advisor, who may be an attorney, with you throughout. Your attorney can advise and defend you by cross-examining the other side and any witnesses on your behalf during the live hearing.
By law, you will not be deemed guilty for the alleged misconduct unless you have been determined to be responsible at the conclusion of the Grievance Process.
Sexual Misconduct Investigations at the University of Texas at El Paso
When someone files a formal complaint against you alleging sexual misconduct, they trigger the school's grievance process.
You will receive written notice of the formal complaint, including a notice of the grievance process, details about the alleged conduct, and of the potential policy violations.
The school will then investigate the allegations. They will interview relevant and available witnesses. You will have an opportunity to respond to the allegations in writing and through an interview with the investigator. You can review any information and evidence submitted against you and present your own. Your advisor can attend any related interview, meeting, or proceeding with you.
Following the investigation, the school will publish an investigation report. This report will not include a finding as to whether you are responsible for violating policy. Instead, it will simply outline the allegations and summarize the relevant evidence and participant statements.
If your case is not dismissed at this stage, it will proceed to a live hearing.
Sexual Misconduct Hearings at the University of Texas at El Paso
You will have ten days business days written notice before your hearing.
At this time, both you and your accuser will have access to all of the evidence from the investigation. Under Title IX, you have a legal right for your advisor to represent you at the hearing by cross-examining witnesses directly and in .
A designated hearing officer will oversee proceedings. Both parties may make opening and closing statements, and then the hearing officer will question you, your accuser, and any witnesses about the incident.
Then, each party's advisor will be permitted to ask relevant questions and follow-up questions to the other party and of any witnesses. The hearing officer won't allow questions if they are not relevant, but your advisor can ask questions challenging the credibility of your accuser.
The hearing officer will use the preponderance of the evidence standard to determine whether you are responsible. They will issue a written determination with their conclusion and rationale about your responsibility and any imposing disciplinary sanctions.
Penalties for Sexual Misconduct at the University of Texas at El Paso
There are many different penalties you could face for sexual misconduct, up to and including permanent expulsion from the university. If the school has determined that you have violated their sexual misconduct policy, they may put any combination of the following sanctions in place.
- Mandatory training related to your misconduct
- Suspension of rights and privileges
- Ban from classes
- Ban from participation in athletic or extracurricular activities
- Disciplinary probation
- Withholding grades, official transcript, or degree
- Bar against re-enrolling with the university.
- Denial of degree
- Expulsion (including permanent notation on academic transcript)
- Revocation of degree and withdrawal of diploma
Appeal Process at the University of Texas at El Paso
Students have the right to appeal unfair decisions. Both sides can appeal the determination of a sexual misconduct hearing.
There are three grounds for appeal for sexual misconduct findings:
- procedural irregularity
- new evidence
- conflict of interest or bias
To appeal your case, you have to file your request within ten calendar days of the schools decision. The school will not enforce any sanctions until any appeal is complete or the window to appeal has elapsed. The school will notify both parties, and from then, the non-appealing party will have seven business days to submit a written statement. The appeals officer will either be the President of the or someone directly designated by them. The person overseeing your appeal will always be someone different from the Title IX Coordinator, investigator, and the hearing officer who originally handled your case.
The school will release a written decision within 21 business days. The appeals officer may affirm or reverse the hearing officer's determination and amend any disciplinary sanctions. They may also remand the process back to the investigation or hearing stage to remedy a procedural irregularity or consider new evidence.
Joseph D. Lento: Experienced College Sexual Misconduct Advisor
Joseph D. Lento is a nationally-recognized Title IX attorney who has defended hundreds of students across the country in Title IX and sexual misconduct cases. He fights tirelessly to protect the rights of students accused of sexual misconduct when their schools so often fail to do so. If you are facing college disciplinary proceedings, you should waste no time launching a defense. Contact us online or call attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686.