Going to college is a dream come true for most students. You have worked so hard to get into college, joined all the right clubs, written all the right essays, and scored well on entrance exams, but if you are accused of sexual misconduct or violating Title IX at University of Texas at San Antonio, that dream can be destroyed quickly. You might feel overwhelmed, not knowing where to turn or who to trust. But don't stress. There are various steps you can take to help secure the best possible outcome, including working with an experienced attorney advisor. Attorney advisors, like Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team at Lento Law Firm, have years of practice helping hundreds of college students across the country protect themselves against sexual misconduct charges. You don't have to endure this alone; the Lento Law Firm can help.
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
University of Texas – San Antonio is dedicated to creating and maintaining a learning environment free of discrimination based on sex and sexual misconduct. They define sexual misconduct as sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexual discrimination, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, or other inappropriate sexual conduct.
What Happens After an Allegation of Sexual Misconduct at The University of Texas at San Antonio?
Any person who believes that they have been subjected to sexual misconduct or a Title IX violation, or who has witnessed such incidents, is encouraged to report the matter to the Equal Opportunity Services (EOS) and Title IX Office. After the university's Title IX Coordinator receives notice of a complaint of alleged sexual misconduct, and either they, or the complainant, have signed a formal complaint, the university will notify the accused student of the accusations and the next steps to expect.
The Title IX Coordinator will select a suitable individual to act as the investigator. The investigator will begin their investigation after the formal complaint is signed by reaching out to the accused student, complainant, victim (if different from the complainant), and relevant witnesses. They will also begin collecting documentary evidence if it exists.
At the end of the investigation, the investigator will prepare a report that summarizes their findings and present it to the Hearing Officer. The Hearing Officer will oversee the hearing. During the hearing, both parties have equal opportunity to tell their side of the story, present relevant evidence and witness testimonies, as well as have advisors present during every stage of these proceedings to help.
Once both sides are heard, the Hearing Officer will render a written determination of responsibility. If the student is found responsible for a Title IX violation or other act of sexual misconduct, the Hearing Officer will also determine the sanctions to be placed on the accused student. Sanctions differ based on the specific facts of the complaint but might include anything from educational training, removal from certain classes or extra-curricular activities, or disciplinary probation, to suspension, expulsion, or denial of your degree.
Informal Resolution Process
There are some cases where students may wish to follow an informal resolution process instead of the one outlined above. If this is so, the students will participate in a mediation process with the Title IX Coordinator. Either party has the right to leave this process at any time and move the matter back to the formal hearing process immediately.
Appealing a Sexual Misconduct or Title IX Violation Decision
The determination of the Hearing Officer can be appealed as long as it is made in writing within ten days of being notified of the decision. Appeals are only available if the party can show one of the following:
- A procedural irregularity that affected the outcome
- There is new evidence present that wasn't reasonably available before that will affect the outcome
- There is evidence of a conflict of interest or bias for or against the complainant or accused student
Written appeals will be reviewed by an Appellate Officer. The Appellate Officer will make their decision within 21 days from the date of the appeal. They may either affirm the Hearing Officer's decision on responsibility and sanctions imposed, amend either, or remand the process back to the investigation or hearing stage. Once they make their decision, it is final and cannot be appealed further.
How an Attorney Advisor Can Help
Being accused of a Title IX violation, or an act of sexual misconduct that falls outside the scope of Title IX, by your university may come with life-long negative consequences. For instance, if you are removed from classes or extra-curricular activities where the victim is also present, you will effectively be losing your independence on campus. You may no longer be able to take classes on a schedule that works for your life, instead having to rearrange to meet the needs of the other student. Additionally, for students who are penalized with suspension or expulsion, those sanctions will take root on your transcripts forever. Every graduate application, and even some job applications, will inquire into the incident, forcing you to explain it over and over again. But, working with an attorney advisor from the moment you learn of these accusations can help mitigate these issues. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team at the Lento Law Firm aim to create a strategic defense that will not only ensure the university upholds your due process rights but also guarantees these consequences won't affect your future. Call 888-535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.