Title IX and Sexual Misconduct Defense for Students at East Carolina University

Like most universities, East Carolina University (ECU) takes allegations of sexual misconduct extremely seriously. Any violation of ECU's sexual misconduct policies—which follow federal Title IX regulations—can lead to serious consequences, including suspension or expulsion.

ECU will likely adjudicate your case in accordance with the university's policies on sexual misconduct. The outcome of this process could have significant ramifications. You may hire an attorney-advisor who specializes in student discipline defense to lead your disciplinary case. Attorney Joseph D. Lento can advise you from the start of your case through its resolution.

What ECU Students Should Know About Title IX

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (known commonly as “Title IX”) prohibits harassment and discrimination. Title IX has undergone significant changes under the Obama and Trump administrations.

The current presidential administration has pursued a “sweeping rewrite” of Title IX, creating the possibility of further confusion and complication for students accused of sexual misconduct. An attorney-advisor may be familiar with impactful changes to Title IX that you must know about.

ECU adheres to Title IX regulations and procedures in cases of alleged sexual wrongdoing:

"Pursuant to the Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”), the University prohibits sexual harassment, forms of sexual assault, and interpersonal violence under its Title IX Compliance and Resolution Regulation." (University Regulation on Reports of Prohibited Interpersonal Violence and Related Misconduct, Section 1.1)

You may face disciplinary action even if Title IX statutes do not apply to your case.

Non-Title IX College Sexual Misconduct (CSM) at ECU

ECU expressly prohibits “Sexual Assault (Rape, Sodomy, Sexual Assault with an Object, Incest, Fondling, and Statutory Rape) Sexual Exploitation, Dating and Domestic Violence, Stalking, and Sexual Harassment.” (Section 1.2) These behaviors qualify as “Prohibited Interpersonal Violence and Related Misconduct.”

If for any reason, your alleged misconduct does not qualify as a Title IX case, ECU may adjudicate your case, nonetheless. ECU literature explains that adjudication of Title IX and non-Title IX sexual misconduct offenses follow the same framework.

How ECU Adjudicates Title IX and Non-Title IX Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Appendix A of ECU’s Procedures for Reports Against Students details:

  1. How ECU adjudicates Title IX sexual misconduct allegations
  2. How ECU adjudicates non-Title IX sexual misconduct allegations

The process for adjudicating Title IX and non-Title IX allegations are the same: The University uses these Procedures [set forth in Appendix A] to investigate and adjudicate any such allegations [of sexual misconduct] and to impose disciplinary sanctions against Students found responsible for violating the Regulation(s).

The stages of this process are:

Reporting

ECU encourages anyone who learns of alleged sexual misconduct to report the allegation through either:

  1. ECU’s Title IX Coordinator
  2. An online form submitted to the Office for Equity and Diversity

ECU's Sexual Misconduct Response Team (SMRT) will review the allegation. The SMRT may generally order an investigation, as universities may be leery of allegations that they failed to act upon a report of sexual misconduct.

Investigation

ECU may conduct an investigation even if the Complainant requests that it does not. ECU's Title IX Coordinator, Associate Provost for Equity and Diversity, or the assigned investigator may proceed with your case at their own discretion. You will receive written notice of any pending investigation.

Interim Actions

ECU may take actions against you, including but not limited to suspension, while your case unfolds. It may do so under the justification of safety.

Informal Resolution

Both you and the Complainant must agree to an informal resolution in order for ECU to accept that resolution. Certain types of informal resolution, like face-to-face meetings, are not available when:

  • Allegations involve sexual assault or sexual harassment
  • The Title IX Coordinator, Associate Provost for Equity and Diversity, or designee reject the informal resolution

You should consult an attorney-advisor before agreeing to any informal resolution.

Formal Resolution

Your case will progress further if you do not reach an informal resolution with the Complainant. The investigator in your case will complete a Final Investigation Report and provide it to you, the Complainant, and the ECU Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities (OSRR).

The OSRR will appoint a three-person Hearing Board to review the investigator's findings. You can then expect a hearing to take place no more than 60 days from the receipt of the Investigation Report.

What to Expect During Your Disciplinary Hearing

Your hearing may entail:

  • Presentation of evidence
  • Witness testimony
  • Your own testimony
  • Cross-examination of witnesses
  • Presentation of arguments

Per ECU literature, “Both the Complainant and the Respondent have the right to be represented, at the respective party's expense, by a licensed attorney or non-attorney advocate…”. Your attorney-advisor may take the leading role in your hearing and all other aspects of your case.

What Are Your Appeal Options?

You have rights as the Respondent named in a sexual misconduct allegation. Per ECU's Appendix A, those rights include:

  • Prompt and equitable resolution of the allegations against you
  • Privacy
  • “Reasonably available supportive measures”
  • Freedom from retaliation
  • Timely written notice of hearings, meetings, and other case-related procedures
  • The right to an advisor

These are just a few of the many rights that you have as an ECU student. Violation of one or more of your rights could be grounds for appeal. You may also appeal if case proceedings were flawed, a conflict of interest influenced your case outcome, new evidence has arisen, or the decision issued in your case does not match the facts.

ECU's Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs will rule on your appeal. You may have a limited time to file your notice of appeal. Your attorney-advisor will act swiftly to adhere to any filing deadlines.

Possible Consequences of Sanctions for a Title IX or Non-Title IX Offense at ECU

ECU's range of sanctions includes “warning, probation, suspension, expulsion, community service, educational task, counseling, no-contact ban, restricted privileges, restitution, revocation of degree, failure to comply with sanctions, and/or deferred suspension.”

In cases involving allegations of sexual wrongdoing, serious sanctions like expulsion and suspension may be ECU's first resort. Suspension or expulsion from ECU may:

  • Prevent you from entering a certain professional field, obtaining accreditation, or receiving job opportunities
  • Cause financial harm, including lost earning power and crushing student debt
  • Cause mental health issues
  • Diminish your quality of life

Allegations of sexual misconduct are among the most serious a college student can face. The resulting consequences reflect the seriousness of the allegations.

Hire a Skilled Attorney-Advisor to Defend You

When dealing with allegations of a sexual nature, you need an attorney-advisor familiar with cases like yours. Attorney Joseph D. Lento specializes in college sexual misconduct defense. He and his team at the Lento Law Firm will deploy every resource and prepare a passionate defense for you.

Call the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss how we can assist you. You may contact us online as well.

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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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