The steps taken after accusations of a sexual assault make all the difference in the outcome of an investigation.
If you have been accused of sexual assault on a college campus, here are a few things you should watch out for:
The School Investigator
When an alleged instance of sexual assault is reported, the accused receives a notice informing them that they are involved in a case. After receiving this notice, a respondent will be required to visit the office of a Title IX investigator or school administrator for investigation purposes. Prior to conversing with a school investigator, it's crucial that the accused understands the pivotal role a school investigator plays in the outcome of a case.
Firstly, these investigators are not your friend. Their primary objective is to obtain a clear and coherent understanding of what transpired through the accounts of both the accuser, the accused and witnesses, and make an appropriate decision based on what they consider (through their judgment) to be the truth. Therefore, it's important that when conversing with investigators, you provide them with an account of events that are devoid of inconsistencies and inaccuracies. It may help to make preparations, such as documenting facts regarding your version of events and bringing as much evidence as possible to accompany this information. Whichever method aids in you keeping your story accurate and true is best. Obviously, any attempts to bribe or intimidate investigators will surely backfire.
Also, investigators are knowledgeable of the disproportionate ratio of false accusations in comparison to legitimate ones. And they are especially careful about not blaming the alleged victim for a perceived sexual assault. Due to these factors, the burden of proof - which is usually imposed on the accusing side in a typical criminal court case - is now shifted to the accused in college hearings.
Being Left Out of the Loop
As a student attending a higher education institution, you are granted rights. Hence, these rights should not be disregarded or robbed due to a mere accusation of sexual assault. According to the Department of Education, schools must conduct an “adequate, reliable, and impartial” investigation of complaints. In order to uphold this standard, schools are expected to give you at least a summary of the evidence against you. In the event that this summary omits major details pertaining to your case, however, it may serve as a limitation to your presentation of evidence.
In order to ensure that you're aware of all the cards that are stacked against you, it's important that you request all information regarding your case from school administrators. Unfortunately, respondents typically only have rights to constitutional due process if a respondent is attending a public state school.
Contact from an Alleged Victim
Many respondents make the dire mistake of reciprocating the contact of an alleged victim and/or their family as if the issuing of a no-contact order isn't incentive enough to discontinue all communication them. It's understandable why the accused would do this, they likely have many things to say an accuser. However, doing so could be detrimental to the outcome of a case. Whatever you do, stay away from your accuser and cut off all contact with them. Schools are put under immense pressure to keep the accused and the accuser apart. If you fail to do so, you could ultimately acquire two separate charges: one for an allegation and one for violating a no-contact order.
Experienced Defense Attorney
All the reasons listed above should prompt those accused of sexual assault to consult with an attorney for advice before making any drastic or impulsive decisions. When an attorney is involved from day one, they are able to smoothly guide you through your school's processes. Remember, you are already unjustifiably presumed as guilty in the eyes of counterparts. From here on out, everything you do will be thoroughly monitored by everyone around you. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today.