If someone has accused you of sexual misconduct at Case Western Reserve University, you could be going through a slew of emotions. Navigating your school's disciplinary process with the threat of grave penalties looming over your future is challenging, but you mustn't bury your head in the sand. University investigations are far from perfect, and with the stakes as high as they are, you must take a proactive approach to ensure you have a fair chance to defend yourself.
Ohio Colleges and Title IX or Sexual Misconduct Cases
Case Western Reserve and other Ohio schools have recently changed their Title IX processes in the light of new federal regulations. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits sexual harassment in educational institutions across the country.
In the past, colleges have nearly always processed sexual misconduct claims under Title IX policy. However, colleges across the state have responded to this year's changes to Title IX guidance by updating and expanding sexual misconduct policies in their student code of conduct. More so than ever, 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.
The new Title IX guidance narrows the definition of prohibited sexual harassment and adds provisions to protect due process for the accused. The most significant change is that you have the right to a live hearing with direct cross-examination. As Title IX won't apply in as broad a range of cases as it used to, some schools plan to process what used to be Title IX under their own, often expanded student codes of conduct.
It is perhaps an especially difficult time to face investigation for sexual misconduct under these new, untested rules. This is particularly true given the haste with which schools had to implement policies in 2020 amidst significant disturbance from the coronavirus pandemic. It is more important than ever to familiarize yourself carefully with school policy and make sure you have an advisor who knows the system.
Case Western Reserve: Your School's New Title IX Policy
At Case Western Reserve, the Office of Equity handles all sexual misconduct allegations. Title IX guidelines require the school to follow a specific grievance process for specified Title IX behaviors. Title IX offenses, broadly known as Title IX sexual harassment, includes various categories of sexual assault, stalking, dating/domestic violence, and harassment.
When someone makes a formal complaint against you under Title IX, they trigger an investigation culminating in a written report and a hearing. Both sides must have advisors, who can but do not need to be an attorney. Your advisor will participate in the hearing by leading your cross-examination.
Recent Title IX changes specify required time periods at each stage of the process to prevent the school from rushing through an investigation and decision.
While Title IX protocol is compulsory for Title IX offenses, the Office of Equity can still investigate allegations of sexual misconduct through processes outside Title IX. For example, sexual exploitation allegations such as the invasion of privacy or online or overseas offenses no longer come under Title IX but are prohibited in the Case Western Reserve interim sexual misconduct policy. The Office of Student Conduct and other campus authorities can also look into other behavior prohibited by school policies.
Case Western Reserve: Your School's Sexual Misconduct Policy
Case Western Reserve has made great efforts over the last five years to bolster its sexual misconduct prevention and discipline. The school made clear in a message to students in August this year that they wouldn't allow new and more confined Title IX guidance to restrict the policing of sexual misconduct on campus. The upshot was an interim policy covering a broad span of sexual misconduct at the University.
The key sexual misconduct policy at Case Western Reserve is the school's Interim Sexual Harassment Policy. Case Western Reserve describes the purpose of this policy as “the prohibition of all forms of sex-based discrimination.” The school revised it in August 2020 to coincide with the new Title IX policy and pick up where the old policy left off.
The policy prohibits Sexual Harassment, defined here as an umbrella term for sexual misconduct. It includes everything prohibited by Title IX, as well as more broadly-interpreted, non-violent offenses, including voyeurism and invasion of privacy, which count as sexual exploitation. The school notes that its policies are “written and interpreted broadly to include online manifestations of any of the behaviors prohibited.”
If someone has made an accusation of sexual misconduct against you, you could be grappling with either or both Title IX and the Interim Sexual Harassment Policy, so it is important to be prepared.
Case Western Reserve: What Due Process to Expect
If someone has made a formal complaint against you, the Office of Equity at Case Western Reserve will assess it and can trigger either a formal process or alternate resolution.
A formal process involves:
- Written report with a preliminary determination
- Hearing to determine whether you violated the policy
You could also agree with your school and your accuser to pursue an alternate resolution, an informal process where the parties try to reach a mutual resolution. This process can happen pre-investigation or post-investigation if you choose to accept responsibility and end the process. Once resolved, complaints are not appealable, but at any time, as it is ongoing, your accuser may still request a formal grievance process.
The Consequences of Sexual Misconduct at Case Western Reserve
At Case Western Reserve, the consequences can be wide-ranging. According to the Interim Sexual Harassment Policy, the sanctions you face could
- Disciplinary Warning
- Disciplinary Probation
- Separation from the University
- Expulsion from the University
- Required Education and Training
- Organizational Sanctions
- Withholding Diploma
- Revocation of Degree
Formal sanctions will not come into play until after the hearing. However, the school can apply, at its discretion, interim or supportive measures straight from the outset. While supportive measures are less punitive, interim measures can include no-contact orders, enforced housing changes, and movement restrictions on campus. You must adhere to any restrictions put upon you, however unfair, or you could face far worse sanctions later on.
Joseph D. Lento: Experienced College Sexual Misconduct Advisor
Sexual misconduct allegations can unfairly ruin lives, but an experienced attorney-advisor can give you the best chance to clear your name. Joseph D. Lento has successfully defended students all across the nation in their Title IX and sexual misconduct cases and knows how hard-fought a fair result can be. He will work tirelessly to support you at every stage, whether that's reviewing the evidence, preparing you for the hearing, or negotiating with the administration for a mutually acceptable resolution. For more information about how we can help you, call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.