If you are under investigation for sexual misconduct at the University of Illinois, you will likely be feeling distressed and overwhelmed.
College disciplinary processes can be confusing and severe, and a record of sexual misconduct can have a ruinous effect on your reputation and future prospects.
Secure an experienced attorney-advisor and familiarize yourself with your school's policies. You can best ensure that the university is held to account for its own rules and that you have a fair opportunity to defend yourself.
Illinois Colleges and Title IX or Sexual Misconduct Cases
The federal Title IX prohibits sexual harassment in schools and colleges across the country on the basis that it is a form of discrimination. Historically these have been the regulations under which schools have processed their sexual harassment and misconduct claims.
The U.S. Department of Education recently issued compulsory new Title IX regulations affording greater procedural protections to students accused of sexual misconduct. This new guidance went into effect on August 14, 2020. It was with noisy reluctance that many colleges adopted the regulations, which were seen as politically unfashionable on many campuses. UIUC and other Illinois colleges amended their Title IX policies to comply with the new guidance.
However, many colleges also recently have revised their student codes of conduct to police behavior which Title IX no longer covers. For this reason, it is particularly important that you familiarize yourself with individual school policies as well as Title IX.
UIUC: Your School's Title IX Policy
The Title IX Office at UIUC is responsible for handling Title IX complaints and allegations relating to other school policies. If someone makes a complaint about you to the Title IX Office or information about a potential offense comes their way, they are obliged to respond.
The office will assess whether the allegation comes under the jurisdiction of Title IX. If the allegation comes under the definition of a Title IX offense, the school is obliged to investigate and adjudicate according to standardized federal Title IX guidelines. This process includes a live hearing where your advisor can cross-examine witnesses on your behalf.
The allegation against you might not come under Title IX but still violate the UIUC’s Sexual Misconduct Policy. In this instance, the school might pursue a formal process instead of, or parallel to, the Title IX process.
UIUC: Your School's Sexual Misconduct Policy
UIUC intend their sexual misconduct policy to be more expansive than the provisions in Title IX.
The policy states the following:
“Title IX requires a definition of ‘Title IX Sexual Harassment' that provides a floor—not a ceiling—to the varied forms of misconduct that can be prohibited at a university, and the University of Illinois has decided to go beyond this floor to promote a safe and welcoming culture and climate.”
Not only does this policy cover a broader range of behavior over a broader jurisdiction than Title IX (this policy applies to student behavior conducted overseas), but its corresponding grievance procedure is slightly different.
All members of the UIUC community across university activities are subject to this policy, and the school is obliged to investigate. You may be investigated and penalized for violating this policy at the same time, or instead of Title IX, so you must learn to navigate this tangle of policies early in the process.
UIUC: Formal Grievance Process
A formal grievance process proceeds in this order:
- formal report
- formal hearing
The standard of evidence used will be the preponderance of the evidence, meaning it is more likely than not that you violated the policy.
Both you and your accuser have the right to put forward witnesses and evidence and participate in the hearing. You also have the right to appeal.
You both have the right to an advisor or attorney-advisor of your choice. Your advisor can join the live hearing in Title IX protocol to conduct the cross-examination on your behalf.
If you are under investigation for non-Title IX sexual misconduct, the protocol differs slightly. Perhaps the most significant difference is that your advisor may not directly participate in a live hearing.
In some cases, if your accuser does not want to lodge a formal complaint or there is not enough information to proceed with a formal investigation, the school might pursue an informal resolution. This process favors cooperation and supportive measures. All parties must consent to this, and unlike a formal procedure, this process will not seek to judge whether you violated the policy. However, it is important to note that until the parties all agree to a resolution, the school can still instigate a formal investigation against you.
The Consequences of Sexual Misconduct at UIUC
If the school find that you violated sexual misconduct policy, there is a broad range of sanctions they might use, including:
- no contact directives
- no trespass orders
- workshops, ongoing programs with disciplinary officers
- community service
- university reprimand
- university censure
- conduct probation
- dismissal held in abeyance
These sanctions can have serious repercussions for your future. The school might also deem it necessary for safety reasons to implement interim measures for the duration of the investigation, up to and including your removal from campus. If they take these steps, you must take them seriously and adhere to them or risk graver penalties later on.
Joseph D. Lento: Experienced College Sexual Misconduct Advisor
If someone has accused you of sexual misconduct at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, you will want to engage an attorney-advisor as early in the process as possible. With the stakes as high as they are, having the right advisor at your side to protect your best interests can make all the difference. Joseph D. Lento has successfully defended countless students from all across the country in their Title IX and sexual misconduct cases. Whichever stage of proceedings you are at, Joseph D. Lento will work tirelessly to ensure a fair process and the best possible outcome. For more information about how we can help you, call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.