Parents: What You Need To Know If Your Child Has Been Accused Of Campus Sexual Assault

Parents: What You Need To Know If Your Child Has Been Accused Of Campus Sexual Assault 2017-09-26T16:42:55+00:00

No parent expects to hear that their child is now being investigated for campus sexual misconduct. But when they do, they immediately have questions like:

  • How did this happen?
  • How can I help my child fight the allegations?
  • Does this mean they can’t finish their college degree?
  • Will this ruin their chances at getting a job in the future?

Our lawyers are here to support the student and their family and answer all questions.

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Parents spend nearly two decades preparing their children for adulthood. For many, this means sending their child off to college where hopefully, they can figure out where their passions lie and study hard so that they can pursue a career of their choice.

During this time of growth, students are on their own for the first time, essentially without supervision and even the most responsible young adults test all sorts of limits. Unfortunately, sometimes this means that a student is in the wrong place at the wrong time and finds themselves accused of sexual misconduct.

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What Should I Do If My Child Has Been Accused Of Sexual Misconduct?

parent upset about allegationsIt’s incredibly difficult for a child to admit to their parents that they are being accused of hurting another person. While it may take time to overcome the shock that this news will bring, there is no time to waste.

If your child has informed you that they will have to take part in a disciplinary hearing at their university, the first thing that you should do is help them find an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Schools waste no time in moving forward with disciplinary action and sometimes the accused only has days to collect themselves and make their case.

After you’ve found legal representation, encourage your child to seek additional support from a counselor or therapist. This will be an exceptionally stressful time during which they may feel as though they are totally alone and that no one believes them. Even with their family by their side, they may need an outlet for their stress.

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Why Is Collegiate Discipline So Aggressive?

As we previously stated, disciplinary action against students is usually taken quickly, giving the accused, also known as the respondent,  little time to prepare. The reason why colleges are so quick to move on accusations of sexual misconduct is that under Title IX, which is federal legislation, their federal funding is at risk if they fail to handle any allegations of sexual misconduct. This is why most schools have guidelines which state that their formal disciplinary process will take place no more than 60 days after the alleged incident is reported.

What hasn’t been discussed yet is that unlike a criminal court, where the defendant should be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, disciplinary hearings operate on the standard known as “preponderance of evidence”.

This means that the person who has accused the respondent of sexual misconduct must only prove that there is a greater than 50% chance that the respondent did what they are being accused of.

Even though the hearing isn’t taking place in a criminal court, the majority of schools do allow the respondent to have a lawyer with them during this difficult time where their entire future is at risk.

How Can A College Punish My Child?

Even before the hearing, the respondent may be served a no contact order. While it is important for them to refrain from seeing or speaking to the person who has accused them, this order may mean that they cannot attend important classes or school functions which could have an impact on their education.

Of course, the worst outcomes at the end of the hearing include:

  • Having a disciplinary mark put on their transcripts.
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion

Any of these may prevent the respondent from obtaining a degree in the future which in turn can impact their ability to even start their chosen career much less excel in the field.

How Can A Lawyer Help A Student Facing Title IX Charges?

gavel used in title IX hearingGiven the serious nature of the accusations and the possible consequences, it’s extremely important for the student and their parents to contact an experienced and qualified lawyer immediately. A lawyer can help:

  • Provide guidance to the respondent.
  • Create a strategy for defending the respondent.
  • Prepare both the respondent and their parents for the school hearing.
  • Ensure that the school follows all of the Title IX procedures properly so that the respondent receives the information that they need.
  • Help the respondent become familiar with the school’s Title IX policies.
  • Provide the respondent with the support they need to obtain a good outcome.

It may be tempting to forgo contacting an attorney and forging ahead on your own but that’s not a risk that anyone should take when there’s so much to lose.

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