In recent years, the rates of sexual harassment and assault in higher education have skyrocketed - a daunting and eye-opening reality for the federal government, schools, and students alike. Consequently, under current federal guidelines, colleges and universities have been bestowed the responsibility of adjudicating any complaints alleging such misconduct. Research indicates that sexual assault and harassment is underreported, and when victims do speak up, they rarely lie about their assault. In any case, however, it's important due process is maintained. In an ideal system, perpetrators are punished while innocent respondents are spared from unwarranted repercussions.
If you've been accused of sexual misconduct at a college or university, you must undergo what's known as the “Title IX process.” This process typically entails an in-depth investigation and a hearing. Upon notification of charges, a student who cares about the state of their college and professional career would seek a student defense attorney. An attorney advisor can help you strategize in preparation for the process, and avoid any pitfalls that could potentially arise along the way.
My experience as an advisor has taught me one important lesson: things won't always go as planned. One of the most critical requirements of Title IX is for schools to publish their grievance procedures and carry them out as such. This is one of the many variables in Title IX enforcement that keeps hearings fair. After all, students can't prepare if they don't know what to expect. It seems reasonable to expect institutions to follow their own rules, but oftentimes they make mistakes. Grave mistakes that could contribute to creating an unfair process, and ultimately an unjust result.
I've witnessed many oversights on behalf of colleges and universities in my years of advising. Most schools take preventative measures to prohibit all contact between complainants (accusers) and respondents (the accused) prior to a hearing. But a seemingly minor mistake like asking both parties to meet at the same place immediately before a hearing has snowballed into a serious issue, as accusations alleging intimidation, and overheard conversations now become a factor in the hearing.
Unfortunately, issues with the panel are a common occurrence. In some instances, panelists may talk over each other or ask questions in an unorganized fashion. Some panelists may dabble in topics that are off limits or bear no relevance to the case, like relationship history or prior sexual interactions with unrelated people. But one of the most disconcerting occurrences in a hearing is for a respondent to endure a lengthy questioning only to notice that panelists didn't take many notes during that period. This is a sign that either a respondent's evidence was immediately disregarded, or panelists have decided to go with their own preconceived notion of the case.
During a hearing, students must remember that the possibility of mishaps and irregularities is likely. These things can adversely affect the outcome of a hearing. This is why students need an advisor who has persisted through chaotic situations to give you guidance when you need it most.
Nationwide Title IX Attorney
The only way to make sure your voice is heard and your rights are upheld is to retain a student defense attorney. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has the skill, experience, and expertise to help you preserve your entitled rights under Title IX and your school's policy. For a case evaluation or more information about his representation, contact him online or give him a call at 888-535-3686 today.