University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus Sexual Misconduct Defense

Sexual misconduct allegations can eviscerate your reputation and deprive you of a degree from the University of Pittsburgh (Pitt). Students accused of sexual misconduct need to defend themselves and should hire an attorney-advisor to help.

Title IX regulations and university policy may put the evidentiary burden on you. If you do not show that you did not commit the alleged offense, then the university may take quick and forceful action against you. Your attorney-advisor will make the strongest possible case in your defense.

Title IX Policy at the University of Pittsburgh

Title IX refers to federal regulations originally meant to prevent gender-based discrimination. Since its origination in 1972, Title IX has grown to encompass a variety of issues, including but not limited to sexual harassment and sexual violence.

As Title IX regulations have changed across presidential administrations, The University of Pittsburgh has updated its policy. Pitt's most recent policy, CS 27, sets forth “the University's approach to addressing Sexual Harassment in accordance with the revised U.S. Department of Education's Title IX regulations.” This policy explains what qualifies as a Title IX offense.

What Qualifies as a Title IX Offense?

CS 27 prohibits “any sexual act, or attempted sexual act, directed against another person, without consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent,” including:

  • Rape
  • Statutory rape
  • Fondling
  • Incest

Title IX also prohibits non-sexual offenses, including dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. All of these offenses constitute “sexual harassment” as defined by Title IX.

Pitt’s Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (OEDI) coordinates most Title IX cases and may oversee yours as well. More specifically, the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX—housed within the OEDI— generally handles allegations of sexual misconduct.

Pitt's Sexual Misconduct Policy

The University of Pittsburgh has its own sexual misconduct policy, CS 20. This policy applies to “sexual misconduct that does not otherwise constitute ‘Sexual Harassment as specifically defined in and addressed under Policy CS 27, Title IX.” In other words, CS20 applies when CS 27 (Title IX) does not.

CS 20 prohibits the same offenses as CS 27. Prohibited offenses listed by CS 20 are even more specific and wide-ranging. CS 20 explains that it is against university policy to:

  • Make unwanted verbal advances of a sexual nature
  • Engage in exhibitionism or voyeurism
  • Engage in nonverbal harassment such as whistling or gesturing
  • Proffer sexually suggestive materials like photographs, videos, or artwork to parties who do not welcome them

Pitt's list of prohibited offenses is extensive. Certain prohibited offenses may qualify for discipline under CS 20, but not under Title IX statutes.

How the University of Pittsburgh Handles Alleged Sexual Misconduct

Pitt's Office of Civil Rights and Title IX will first review the complaint against you. CS 20 explains that the initial review “generally includes interviews with the complainant, the respondent, a chair, dean, director, supervisor, responsibility center head, or designee, and sometimes a review of relevant documents.”

The investigator will determine whether alleged conduct violates Title IX regulations or other university policies, such as CS 20. If alleged behaviors violate Title IX or another policy, then the investigator can initiate:

  1. An informal resolution process
  2. A formal resolution process
  3. Another university adjudication process

The investigator can also end the adjudication process—perhaps because there are no grounds to proceed or because the complainant requests so. Note that even if the complainant wants to end the adjudication process, the university may proceed nonetheless.

Informal Resolution

A Title IX Coordinator will oversee the informal resolution process in tandem with various other university officials. Neither CS 20 nor CS 27 mentions attorney-advisors, but your advisor may be involved in the informal resolution process, too.

The university may present resolutions to the complainant and respondent. If both parties agree to a resolution, then that agreement will resolve the case. If both parties cannot agree, then a formal resolution process will ensue.

Formal Resolution

The formal resolution process for alleged sexual misconduct includes:

  1. Completion of a written report by the case investigator
  2. An opportunity for the complainant and respondent to issue a written response to the investigator's report
  3. The completion of a live hearing, which may be in person or virtual

Hearings are common, critical features of misconduct cases. During your hearing, your attorney-advisor will make the case for you while critiquing the case against you. Your advisor may question witnesses, present evidence, and argue in your favor.

University policy notes that a “Decision-Maker” will rule on your case. You will know who this “Decision-Maker” is before your hearing commences.

Consequences of University Sanctions

You may realistically face suspension or expulsion if Pitt finds you responsible for sexual wrongdoing. Even if you face lesser consequences, any formal acknowledgment of sexual wrongdoing may:

  • Label you as a dangerous person
  • Prevent you from re-enrolling in other universities
  • Require you to re-enroll in a school that you otherwise would not enroll in
  • Prevent you from earning a specific degree, or any degree at all
  • Compromise your professional ambitions

Any of these consequences can drain your mental health. They may derail your life as you know it. This is why a strong defense by an attorney-advisor is so important.

Appeals

You have ten days following a decision to file an appeal with the Office of the Provost or Senior Vice-Chancellor. An Appeals Board may review your case if:

  • New information has become available, and that new information may have influenced the original ruling
  • The original adjudication did not follow proper procedures
  • Sanctions are inappropriate based on the nature of the offense

Considering the limited window for filing an appeal, it is crucial that you file yours promptly and accurately. Your attorney-advisor can draft and file your appeal.

Hire a Qualified Attorney-Advisor to Fight Allegations of Wrongdoing

You now know the gravity of sexual misconduct allegations. If you are facing an investigation into alleged misconduct, then your reputation is at stake. You may also be facing the loss of your most precious goals and dreams. Hire attorney Joseph D. Lento, who has unparalleled experience handling college sexual misconduct cases.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team will put forth a passionate defense. Call 888-535-3686 to arrange your representation. You can also contact the Lento Law Firm online.

Contact Us Today!

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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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