In an ideal world, it would not take a university-wide blunder to prompt legislative change. However, there can be silver linings to these stressful situations.
From 2018 to 2021, Louisiana State University faced widespread complaints regarding a sexual misconduct claim that many believed the university mishandled. The case in question was resolved in 2021. In light of the criticism related to the university's treatment of the case, however, the Louisiana Board of Regents has taken steps to integrate four new updates into state universities' Title IX response plans.
Setting the Scene
In 2018, a French LSU student, Edouard d’Espalungue d’Arros, faced seven accusations of sexual misconduct. Two of the young women accusing d'Espalungue expressed their intentions to file criminal complaints against the young man. It was this intent that would have paved the way for LSU to start an investigation into its student's alleged behavior.
LSU's alleged inaction in the face of these accusations was received poorly by the surrounding community. While area law enforcement investigated the charges brought against d'Espalungue, the 31-year-old was permitted to return to France while in the midst of a grand jury trial. As of February 2021, d'Espalungue had not returned to the United States, despite being indicted on 3rd-degree rape charges.
Louisiana Universities' Changing Approach to Sexual Misconduct Claims
The legislative changes posed by the board see universities invoke more Title IX checks and balances. Universities throughout the state now use a broader definition of sexual misconduct when considering their students' complaints. Students and staff alike are also barred from taking retaliatory action against someone who reports alleged incidents of sexual assault.
Furthermore, the board now requires Louisiana universities to involve area police officers in a campus's sexual assault cases. The board hopes that the involvement of law enforcement representatives will prevent reactive charges alongside code of conduct oversights.
Similar rulings have seen Louisiana universities implement more thorough sexual harassment training programs into their training curriculums. As of 2022, 500 campus officials throughout the state have sought additional misconduct education.
What Do New University Policies Mean for Students?
The rulings passed by the Louisiana Board of Regents are designed to protect students on both sides of sexual misconduct claims. What do these rulings mean for students, though?
The checks and balances added to universities' sexual assault proceedings do not conflict with the rights of accused students. Any student facing sexual misconduct allegations still retains the right to counsel and a fair trial. Rather, law enforcement's increased presence on campus, combined with additional instructor training, should help university students and staff address reactive accusations more effectively.
A Title IX Attorney-Advisor Can Help Address Unclear Title IX Charges
Sexual misconduct charges can spell major trouble for a student's future. Students who do not effectively challenge these accusations can find themselves facing suspension, dismissal, and other potential consequences, including professional blackballing in the field of their choice.
International and local students alike need all the help they can get contending with the increasingly-complex Title IX legislation. Fortunately, students and their families can turn to the Lento Law Firm. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his expert team are available to discuss students' cases at 888-535-3686 or through the Firm’s online form.