If you are accused of sexual misconduct or violating Title IX, it can feel incredibly overwhelming. Where do you turn? Who can you count on to guide you through the steps to clear your name? You've worked so hard to get into college, and now that journey could be over in the blink of an eye. Attorney Advisor Joseph D. Lento and Lento Law Firm have helped hundreds of students across the country navigate these accusations. Your university owes you a certain level of due process; Attorney Lento will ensure those rights are upheld. Call today.
What Is Title IX?
Title IX is a federal regulation that creates a specific standard that all federally funded colleges and universities must uphold when managing sexual discrimination and sexual violence on their campus. These standards include:
- Clear and immediate procedures for sexual misconduct allegations
- Designated personnel to handle instances of sexual violence
- In Title IX hearings, the standard of evidence should be “more likely than not” or “preponderance of evidence”
- Both parties involved should have access to the same procedures – advisors, appeals, and presentation of the evidence
- Retaliation protection
The University of Arkansas campus forbids discrimination and sexual misconduct, which they define as any sexual activity or attempt to engage in sexual activity, where everyone has not knowingly consented. These sexual activities include rape, fondling, incest, statutory rape, and sexual exploitation.
What Happens After an Allegation of Sexual Misconduct at the University of Arkansas?
After a complainant has filed a formal complaint alleging that a defendant has engaged in sexual misconduct or violated Title IX in some way, an investigation will be performed. The investigation is an administrative process the University uses to determine whether these accusations have any merit. The defendant is presumed innocent until the conclusion of the hearing process.
It should be noted that all students have the right to an advisor of their choice. The advisor will assist the defendant during the proceedings.
If, after receiving notification of the impending investigation, the defendant and the complainant agree to an informal resolution process, the full investigation will be halted. This informal resolution usually looks like mediation and can be suspended if either party decides to revoke their consent. If it is abandoned, the investigation will resume, and the formal grievance process will continue.
The investigator will interview both parties, review any documentation, and question any relevant witnesses so as to get a full picture of the incident in question. At this point, the defendant has the opportunity to review the investigation and respond with any further documentation or witnesses for the investigator to interview. When the investigation finishes, the investigator will submit their report to the Title IX Coordinator.
The Title IX Coordinator will review the report and provide a final copy of it to both parties within ten days of the determination hearing. The determination hearing is conducted by a neutral hearing officer appointed by the Chancellor. The neutral hearing officer will review the report, conduct the hearing, and make final determinations on responsibility and any necessary sanctions that might apply.
If a defendant is found responsible for sexual harassment or assault, the hearing officer will determine if there are any remedies the defendant might provide to the complainant. These remedies might be punitive damages or disciplinary sanctions.
To determine which sanctions are best, the hearing officer will look at whether the sanction will stop the violation in question from happening again, whether it will reasonably prevent a similar situation from occurring and heal the effects of the incident. Possible sanctions may include:
- Removal from on-campus housing
- Limiting access to campus
- Degree withholding
Appealing a Sexual Misconduct or Title IX Violation Decision
Either party has the right to appeal the hearing officer's decision. Appeals must be submitted within five days of receiving the determination but can only be submitted on one of four grounds:
- There was a procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the decision.
- There is new evidence that was not reasonably available earlier that might affect the outcome.
- There was a conflict of interest or bias against either party by the Title IX Coordinator, the investigator, or the hearing officer. This conflict of interest or bias affected the outcome of the case.
- The sanctions imposed do not match the nature and severity of the incident.
Once a determination on the appeal is made, it is final and cannot be further appealed.
How an Attorney-Advisor Can Help
Being accused of violating Title IX or another act of sexual misconduct can have long-lasting consequences that venture beyond the confines of college life. For instance, if you reside in the same dorm as the alleged victim, the university may see fit to move your place of residence or ban you from on-campus housing altogether. Additionally, if the University decides to enforce a suspension or expulsion penalty, they will note it on your transcripts. For every graduate school application in the future, you will have to explain why you were expelled or suspended, forcing you to rehash the experience over and over and closing many doors in the process.
Working with an attorney advisor is so important, especially with consequences like these on the line. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm will create a defense that guarantees you the best possible outcome. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation. You don't have to navigate these murky waters alone. The Lento Law is here to help.