When you start college, you expect it to go smoothly. You sign up for the classes you want, join clubs, make friends, and then graduate. You never expect to be accused of sexual misconduct or a Title IX violation, and when you are, it can be completely overwhelming. Where do you turn? Who can you trust? At the Lento Law Firm, Attorney Joseph D. Lento is an experienced attorney who has worked with hundreds of students in New York and across the country accused of sexual misconduct and Title IX violations. He will work diligently to ensure the best possible outcome for your situation. Do not try to weather this storm alone; the Lento Law Firm can help.
What is Title IX?
Title IX is a federal regulation that creates a specific standard that all federally funded colleges and universities must uphold when managing sexual discrimination and sexual violence on their campus. These standards include:
- Clear and immediate procedures for sexual misconduct allegations
- Designated personnel to handle instances of sexual violence
- In Title IX hearings, the standard of evidence should be “more likely than not” or “preponderance of evidence”
- Both parties involved should have access to the same procedures – advisors, appeals, and presentation of the evidence
- Retaliation protection
CUNY Queens College prohibits sexual misconduct and discrimination based on gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, citizenship, race, class, or educational level. They define sexual misconduct as sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking.
CUNY Queens College Sexual Misconduct Procedure
Once CUNY Queens College learns of an allegation of sexual misconduct, the Title IX Coordinator will evaluate whether the alleged behavior falls within the scope of the Title IX Sexual Harassment. If it does, and at the time the allegations are made, the complainant is a student or participant in an activity at CUNY, the matter will proceed as a Title IX violation. If it does not fall within those parameters, it will proceed as a Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct matter. But both will have the opportunity to join an informal resolution process.
Informal resolution processes are an alternative to the formal investigation and hearing procedures and usually include mediation or another form of dispute resolution. In order for the parties to transfer the issue to this process, they must both agree to it and any subsequent penalties placed on the defendant. If they do not, the matter will be moved to the formal resolution process.
Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct Matters
If informal resolution is stopped, or the parties decide not to enter that procedure, the Title IX Coordinator must begin an investigation into the accusations. This investigation will be documented and delivered to both parties for review.
After commenting on the report, the information and documents will be delivered to the Adjudication Committee. They will review these documents, witness testimony, and evidence during the formal hearing and make a determination of responsibility.
Title IX Sexual Misconduct Matters
After the complainant files a formal complaint alleging Title IX Sexual Harassment, the Title IX Coordinator will launch a formal investigation into the matter. Usually, this investigation is completed within 120 days of receiving the formal complaint. Once the investigation is complete, the Title IX Coordinator will send their investigative report to both the complainant and the defendant. Both parties have the chance to review the report and respond within ten days. These responses and the report will be shared with the Adjudication Committee and the other party before the formal hearing.
During the hearing, both parties will have the opportunity to present evidence and relevant witnesses to prove their side of the case. The Adjudication Committee will review all statements, evidence, and witnesses and determine the defendant's responsibility. Students are allowed to have advisors acting on their behalf through the entire proceeding.
If the college determines that the defendant is responsible for either sexual misconduct or a Title IX violation, they will decide which penalties to apply. These penalties range from a warning to suspension or expulsion from the college entirely.
Appealing a Sexual Misconduct or Title IX Violation Decision
The Adjudication Committee's decisions can be appealed within 15 days of receiving the written decision. Appeals will only be heard if they are made on one of the following grounds:
- There was a procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the case.
- There is new evidence that was not reasonably attainable during the hearing, but it might have affected the outcome.
- There is a conflict of interest or bias present that affects the outcome of the case.
- The sanction was more egregious than the conduct.
After receiving the appeal, the committee will notify the other party who will have an opportunity to respond to the appeal. The committee will review both the appeal and the response and make a final determination. As this determination is final, it cannot be appealed further.
How an Attorney-Advisor Can Help
Attorney advisors act on behalf of the student, compiling evidence and witnesses to defend the student to the best of their ability. Title IX and sexual misconduct violations can carry life-long consequences and working with an attorney advisor can help mitigate those penalties. For instance, even before possibly being found responsible, the college will work to separate you from the victim, meaning your dorm could be changed, your classes rearranged, and you could be barred from joining clubs or intermural sports if the victim would also be present. Additionally, if you found responsible and are penalized with suspensions or expulsion, it will be noted on your transcripts. Whether you try to finish your degree at another institution or you are hoping to apply to graduate school, you will be forced to explain those notations further.
Working with an attorney advisor is the best way to ensure your future is protected, and attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have helped hundreds of students in New York and across the United States overcome Title IX and sexual misconduct allegations. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.