The Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) is a program that prepares college and university students in West Virginia and across the country to become officers in the U.S. military. The ROTC is an attractive option for those who seek job security, as it draws tens of thousands of students each academic year. In exchange for a post-college career and a paid further education, cadets in the ROTC commit to serving in the military after graduation.
If you are a student who plans to start a career in the military post-graduation, joining the ROTC is a huge step in the right direction. But to join you'll have to prove that you're able to stay on the straight and narrow. The armed forces requires that all students who join have an altercation-free academic and disciplinary record. In an industry where the exhibition of discipline is highly regarded, nothing can ruin your military career before it starts quite like accusations of sexual misconduct.
The military is already under fire for surging rates of sexual violence. Within the last two years, there were 20,500 instances of “unwanted sexual contact,” based on a survey of men and women across the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. In response to the report, recruiters and higher-ups have become especially adamant about rejecting people who have a history of perpetuating inappropriate sexual behavior in any capacity.
Yes, the military's stance on sexual violence is rigid, but all is not lost. ROTC students facing allegations of this nature and truly believe they're innocent have options to undergo a fair process through a law named “Title IX.”
Understanding Title IX
Title IX of the Education Amendments is a federal civil rights law that addresses gender-based discrimination against students attending U.S. colleges and universities. According to federal guidelines, West Virginia higher education institutions are obligated to adjudicate cases that entail gender discrimination.
Sexual misconduct falls under the umbrella of gender discrimination, and therefore, warrants an investigation, a determination of responsibility, and (if applicable) the imposition of disciplinary action, such as sanctions.
Some violations of Title IX include:
- Sexual harassment: unwelcome and inappropriate sexual remarks or physical advances.
- Sexual violence: the act of forcing or manipulating someone into unwanted sexual activity without their consent. Some forms of sexual violence include rape and sexual assault.
- Gender-based harassment: this type of behavior includes slurs, negative stereotyping, and any hurtful remark made based on another person's gender.
The Disenrollment Process
ROTC students who are found responsible for a violation of Title IX will be barred or "disenrolled" from the occupancy of a commissioned officer. Each branch of the military has unique regulations concerning their process of disenrollment.
Why You Need Representation
While the Lento Law Firm believes wholeheartedly that sexual misconduct is unacceptable in any all circumstances, we also believe that ROTC respondents (also known as accused students) are entitled to civil rights and due process. One of Title IX's many functions is to promote equity in school processes. It is the duty of an experienced attorney to ensure that each party's rights are honored and that the process is fair.
Title IX allegations are typically addressed in a hearing. The majority of institutions allow parties to select an advisor that can aid them in their school's process. By seeking legal counsel as your advisor, you're likely to be prepared for the moments in the process that matter most - your statements, questioning, the collection of evidence etc.
Many people are under the impression that higher education institutions are always fair and equitable institutions. But in reality, sometimes schools don't play by their own rules. In a swing of the pendulum, institutions that were once lax and arguably apathetic in their approach to adjudication are now aggressively pursuing complaints - all due to the Department of Education's letter that subtly threatened to strip funding in schools who ignored victims. Consequently, the repercussions for the falsely accused are incredibly damaging.
West Virginia Title IX Advisor Defending Disenrollment Actions
Even the most competent school system is not designed to play investigator, judge, jury, executor and appellate court for sexual misconduct. Higher education institutions are bound to make mistakes that can cost innocent people their livelihood, reputation, and even their freedom.
If you're an ROTC student at a West Virginia college or university and have been accused of sexual misconduct, it's imperative you retain legal counsel. Experienced Title IX defense attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped professionals in your predicament achieve true justice in what's been labeled a “flawed system” by both survivors and respondents. Contact the Lento Law Firm online or by phone at 888-535-3686.
West Virginia colleges and universities where Joseph D. Lento can help as your or your ROTC student's Title IX advisor during investigations, hearings, and appeals include, but are not limited to, the following schools (schools in bold have Army, Navy, and/or Air Force ROTC programs or are affiliated with schools where students can take ROTC classes):
- Alderson Broaddus College
- American Public University System
- Appalachian Bible College
- Bethany College
- Blue Ridge Community and Technical College
- Bluefield State College
- Bridgemont Community and Technical College
- Concord University
- Davis & Elkins College
- Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College
- Fairmont State University
- Glenville State College
- Huntington Junior College
- ITT Technical Institute Huntington
- Kanawha Valley Community and Technical College
- Marshall University
- Mountain State College
- Mountain State University
- Mountwest Community and Technical College
- New River Community and Technical College
- Ohio Valley University
- Pierpont Community and Technical College
- Potomac State College of West Virginia University
- Salem International University
- Shepherd University
- Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College
- University of Charleston
- Valley College Beckley
- Valley College Martinsburg
- Valley College Princeton
- West Liberty University
- West Virginia Business College Wheeling
- West Virginia Junior College Bridgeport
- West Virginia Junior College Charleston
- West Virginia Junior College Morgantown
- West Virginia Northern Community College
- West Virginia State University
- West Virginia University
- West Virginia University at Parkersburg
- West Virginia University Institute of Technology
- West Virginia Wesleyan College
- Wheeling Jesuit University
All students must be extremely mindful when accused of sexual misconduct at their college or university; ROTC students in particular, however, can have even more concerns at all stage of Title IX proceedings because the stakes are higher yet – When first contacted by their school's Title IX office, when a sexual misconduct investigation begins, when facing a hearing or an appeal, or when seeking further recourse by filing a Title IX complaint with the Department of Education Office of Civil Rights when necessary. For ROTC students who are facing a Title IX case and their families, it is critical to take the necessary precautions as soon as possible, including having an experienced attorney advisor, when accused of sexual misconduct. Unfortunately, some students, not being as familiar what is at stake and also their rights in the process, will mistakenly believe that if they "just explain what happened," everything will work out. Title IX cases can be won, but students and their families must recognize, however, that achieving a favorable in a Title IX case requires a dedicated and intensive approach best handled by a professional who has a track record of successes in the Title IX disciplinary arena.
Fighting passionately for the future of students at colleges and universities throughout the nation for over a decade, Joseph D. Lento knows how important it is to mount the strongest defense because he understands that an ROTC student's academic future and future commission and military career is at stake. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph Lento is a licensed attorney in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted as an attorney pro hac vice in state and federal court if needed when representing clients nationwide, and serves as a Title IX advisor to students facing sexual misconduct investigations, disenrollment proceedings,and disciplinary cases in West Virginia and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.