Sexual Misconduct Policy at Boise State University

We can all agree that a university has a responsibility to protect its students—all its students. Certainly, that includes anyone who is a victim of sexual discrimination or harassment. However, that should also include any students who have been accused of sexual discrimination or harassment.

We hold certain principles of justice sacred in this country: that the accused are “innocent until proven guilty”; defendants have the right to confront their accusers; and in order to be convicted for a crime, an individual must be guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.

Unfortunately, schools aren't required to respect any of these principles when they investigate allegations of sexual misconduct. As a result, many treat defendants unfairly in the name of “protecting victims.”

If you should find yourself accused, don't let this happen. Contact a skilled Title IX attorney immediately, someone who can help you navigate the complexities of an investigation and hearing and who can protect your rights throughout the process.

A Brief History of Title IX

Most schools, including Boise State, investigate and prosecute instances of sexual misconduct under the federal government's Title IX. This law, passed in 1972, guaranteed everyone the right to an equal education, regardless of their sex. To enforce this goal, the law further threatened to withhold federal funding from any school that refused to comply.

Title IX was a landmark in the march towards equality for women, and in the fifty years since it was enacted it has done enormous good in support of that cause.

Yet, the law was not without its flaws. Chief among those flaws was its enforcement mechanism. By tying sexual misconduct investigations to funding, Title IX created an incentive for colleges and universities to zealously—often over-zealously—pursue the accused. Desperate to hold on to their funding, most schools will do anything to demonstrate their compliance with the law, including opening cases on the flimsiest evidence, taking shortcuts to convict defendants, and assigning penalties far out of proportion to offenses.

Since its original passage, the federal government has done even more to undermine defendants' rights under Title IX. The accused haven't always had the right to defend themselves at a hearing, for instance, or to cross-examine witnesses. Some presidential administrations have instructed schools to “believe the victim,” even if that meant pre-judging the defendant.

In 2020, the Trump administration made an important move to try and level the playing field, introducing very specific guidelines for how investigations and hearings should be conducted. While this should have brought clarity to the Title IX process, it has largely done the opposite. Many schools, frustrated by the new rules, have chosen to implement their own separate procedures where the new Title IX didn't suit them. The result? Sexual misconduct investigations are now a patchwork quilt of competing policies and procedures that are harder than ever to make sense of.

Boise State's Policies and Procedures

Like most schools, Boise State uses Title IX when it is convenient and an entirely different set of procedures when it isn't.

A Title IX case begins with a formal complaint made to the school's Title IX Coordinator. This person assesses the complaint and decides whether or not to begin an official investigation.

Next, they appoint an investigator to look into the matter. This person interviews both sides as well as any relevant witnesses. In addition, they collect and preserve any evidence, including images, videos, clothing, emails, and text messages. At the conclusion of the investigative phase of the case, the investigator writes a summary of their findings and submits this to the Title IX Coordinator.

The coordinator then sets a date for a formal hearing. At this hearing, a panel made up of representatives from the faculty and the student body examines the evidence and listens to testimony. Both sides are allowed to have an advisor through the entire Title IX process. This advisor can be an attorney and is responsible for cross-examining witnesses and raising any objections on their clients' behalf.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the panel decides whether the accused is “responsible” or “not responsible” and assigns any sanctions as necessary.

These procedures aren't perfect. Under Title IX, for instance, the panel doesn't have to use the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard for guilt. Instead, they can apply the far looser standard, “preponderance of guilt.” Essentially, they must only decide whether events are “more likely than not” to have occurred.

Even so, current Title IX procedures offer more protections for a defendant than Boise State's own judicial processes. Should the school decide that an offense doesn't fit Title IX's new, narrower definition of “harassment,” BSU can prosecute you under their own student code of conduct. In many cases, students aren't entitled to a hearing. Even when they are, they have limited rights. Advisors, for example, can't participate directly, and only the panelists themselves may question witnesses. Nonetheless, having an experienced advisor solely dedicated to your cause, whether you are facing Title IX or code of conduct charges, will best help you work towards a fair process and the best possible outcome.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento Understands Title IX

Why do you need an attorney if you've been accused of sexual misconduct?

You need an attorney because sexual misconduct cases are complex and can be difficult to win. You can't even be sure what method your school will use to investigate you. In addition, your school will do everything it can to convict you. They may try to suspend you before they even conduct an investigation. They may discontinue your email account, destroying important evidence. They may even tell you you don't need an attorney.

Don't believe them. Your future is at stake. Schools talk about a range of penalties they might impose but make no mistake: if you've been accused of sexual misconduct, they will try to suspend you at an absolute minimum in most cases, if not try to expel you. In fact, an expulsion may come with a transcript notation about your offense, a notation that could keep you from enrolling anywhere else.

Don't trust your case to anyone other than attorney Joseph D. Lento. Joseph D. Lento built his career representing clients across the United States just like you. He knows Title IX. Just as importantly, he knows how colleges and universities operate. Attorney Joseph D. Lento will make sure you get all the rights you're entitled to, and he'll fight for the very best possible resolution to your case.

If you or your child has been accused of sexual misconduct at Boise State University, 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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