Title IX and College Sexual Misconduct at the University of the Pacific

The private, Methodist-affiliated University of the Pacific has campuses in Sacramento, San Francisco, and Stockton in Northern California, in what it calls one of the country's most diverse and dynamic regions. Its website advertises that since 1851, the University of the Pacific has been California's “private university of choice.” It offers undergraduate programs in such fields as accounting, business administration, chemistry, computer science, economics, health, and music management, graduate programs in such fields as data science, clinical nutrition, and social work, and professional programs in law and dentistry. The University of the Pacific advertises a low student/faculty ratio, small class size, high alumni earnings, and enrollment of about 6,000 students. Students at the University of the Pacific may live in on-campus residence halls, fraternal facilities, or apartment housing.

While the University of the Pacific rightly touts its idyllic campuses and strong academic programs, University of the Pacific students face similar challenges as students at other colleges and universities, challenges that can lead to Title IX or other college-sexual-misconduct charges. National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento shares here how his expert representation can help you successfully defend sexual-misconduct charges at the University of the Pacific. Misconduct allegations need not derail your education and career.

University of the Pacific's Sexual-Misconduct Policy

The University of the Pacific maintains an Interim Policy Prohibiting Sexual Misconduct that it made effective August 14, 2020, to meet the new U.S. Department of Education Title IX regulations taking effect the same date. University of the Pacific's policy prohibits both Title IX sexual misconduct and certain forms of non-Title IX sexual misconduct. The University of the Pacific thus broadens the reach of its policy beyond what the federal regulations require, as do other colleges and universities. University of the Pacific's policy also provides separate procedures, Process A and Process B, for addressing Title IX or non-Title IX sexual-misconduct charges.

Title IX Sexual Misconduct at University of the Pacific

University of the Pacific's sexual-misconduct policy enforces Title IX's prohibition against sex discrimination, as the University must, in order to continue receiving federal funding. The year 2020 saw the Department of Education restrict the regulatory interpretation of Title IX's sexual-misconduct definition. The new federal regulations also added procedural protections for the accused, as national Title IX attorney Joseph Lento explains here. The current Title IX regulatory interpretation reaches only these three forms of sexual misconduct, each of which University of the Pacific's Interim Policy Prohibiting Sexual Misconduct also prohibits:

  • sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking;
  • quid-pro-quo harassment (attempting to trade favors for sex); or
  • unwelcome conduct so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive as to deny equal access to education based on sex.

University of the Pacific Sexual Misconduct

As just indicated above, the University of the Pacific defines sexual misconduct more broadly than Title IX. University of the Pacific's Interim Policy Prohibiting Sexual Misconduct prohibits these additional forms of non-Title IX sexual misconduct:

  • sexual exploitation, defined as taking non-consensual or abusive sexual advantage of another, including sexual voyeurism, invasion of sexual privacy, the non-consensual taking of pictures, video, or audio recording of another in sexual activity when there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, revenge pornography, prostituting another person, engaging in sexual activity with another person while knowingly infected with a sexually-transmitted disease or infection, causing or attempting to cause the incapacitation of another person to consent to sexual activity, misappropriation of another person's identity on apps, websites, or other venues designed for dating or sexual connections, blackmail using information, video, audio, or an image that depicts the victim's nudity or sexual activity, soliciting a minor for sexual activity, sex trafficking, and child pornography;
  • non-consensual sexual intercourse including sexual penetration with an object, rape, forced sodomy, forced oral copulation, or the threat of any of these behaviors;
  • non-consensual sexual touching, however slight, with any body part or object, including intentional contact with the breasts, buttock, groin, or genitals, or touching another with any of these body parts or object, or making another touch with or on any of these body parts;
  • gender-based harassment, defined as acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, based on gender, gender expression, sex, or sexual orientation;
  • gender-based discrimination, defined as giving preferential treatment to one gender to the disadvantage of another;
  • sex or gender-based hazing, defined as acts likely to cause physical or psychological harm or social ostracism to any person within the community, when related to the admission, initiation, pledging, joining, or any other group-affiliation activity;
  • sex or gender-based bullying, defined as repeated or severe aggressive behavior likely to intimidate or intentionally hurt, control, or diminish another person, physically or mentally;
  • violating no-contact orders; and
  • attempts at the above prohibited conduct.

Expanded definitions within the University of the Pacific's Interim Policy Prohibiting Sexual Misconduct broaden the above non-Title IX sexual-misconduct categories around terms including consent, coercion, and incapacitation. These definitions increase the risk of misunderstandings and of false, fabricated, or exaggerated sexual-misconduct charges.

University of the Pacific Sexual-Misconduct Procedures

The above definitions of sexual misconduct are important to the outcome of sexual-misconduct charges. So are the following procedures for determining the charges. As just briefly indicated, the University of the Pacific's Interim Policy Prohibiting Sexual Misconduct provides for a different Process A or Process B depending on whether the charge involves Title IX or non-Title IX sexual misconduct. As one would expect, Process A for Title IX charges protects the accused to a greater extent than Process B for non-Title IX charges.

Process A Title IX Procedures. University of the Pacific's Process A Title IX procedures authorizes the University's Title IX Coordinator to make an initial assessment of any complaint, out of which the Coordinator may dismiss the complaint, attempt informal resolution, seek alternative resolution with a trained mediator, or advance the complaint through the Formal Grievance Process. A student accused of sexual misconduct may counterclaim for abuse of the misconduct system. The Title IX Coordinator must notify the accused student in writing of the charge.

In the Formal Grievance Process, the Title IX Coordinator first appoints two trained investigators. The investigators interview the accuser, accused, and other witnesses, assemble documentation, and prepare a draft report that they must share with the accuser and accused for comment. The investigators may incorporate those comments in the final report. The procedures prohibit investigators from considering character or sexual disposition.

A three-member Decision-Maker panel then conducts the Formal Grievance Process hearing after pre-hearing exchanges of information. As federal regulations require, witnesses must attend the hearing and testify under opportunity for cross-examination if the Decision-Maker panel is to consider their testimony. An attorney advisor of the accused student's choice may attend the hearing to ask questions, including cross-examining adverse witnesses. The Decision-Maker panel may find Title IX sexual misconduct based on the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard. The procedures also provide for appeal by an aggrieved party.

Non-Title IX Procedures. University of the Pacific's Process B non-Title IX procedures track its above Title IX procedures except for some significant limitations. While a three-member Decision-Maker panel decides non-Title IX charges, and must offer a hearing to do so, Process B procedures permit the Decision-Maker panel to rely more heavily on the investigators' report. Either side may call witnesses at a hearing, but Process B does not require that witnesses testify.

Under Process B for non-Title IX charges, the accused student may select an advisor, including an attorney advisor, but neither the accused student nor the student's advisor has a right to question or cross-examine witnesses. Only the panel members question witnesses. An advisor does not participate other than to help the student prepare for the hearing and advise the student at the hearing. Once again, the preponderance standard, not the clear-and-convincing-evidence standard, decides the charges. Process B authorizes appeals and permits the same sanctions as Process A for Title IX charges.

University of the Pacific Sexual-Misconduct Sanctions

University of the Pacific's sexual-misconduct procedures provide that sexual misconduct at the University can result in any of the following sanctions:

  • disciplinary warning;
  • required training or education;
  • disciplinary probation;
  • educational, interventional, or restorative requirements;
  • restricted access to facilities, organizations, or events;
  • no-contact order;
  • loss of housing privileges;
  • suspension from an educational program or campus access;
  • delayed awarding of a degree;
  • dismissal (expulsion);
  • revocation of degree;
  • organizational sanctions such as deactivation or loss of privileges.

Premier Representation Makes a Difference

With so much at stake, University of the Pacific students facing sexual-misconduct charges need and deserve the premier representation of national Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento. Attorney Lento has helped hundreds of college and university students nationwide successfully defend sexual-misconduct and other misconduct charges. Attorney Lento's unparalleled experience in dealing with college and university administrators and procedures has given him extraordinary insight into how best to approach and defeat sexual-misconduct charges. As a preeminent trial lawyer, attorney Lento also has the litigation skills to mount the most-aggressive defense to false, fabricated, or exaggerated charges.

You can trust national Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm with preserving your education and career against University of the Pacific sexual-misconduct charges or charges of other misconduct. Call 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation, or use the online service.

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