Are you a student who was just informed they are being investigated for campus sexual assault? You likely have many questions such as:
- What is sexual misconduct?
- What is Title IX?
- Is my college career over?
- How can I prove my case?
Our team is here to answer all of your questions.
Being accused of sexual misconduct is scary. We’re here to help.
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The day that a student’s school contacts them to inform them that they are now the subject of a Title IX investigation into an alleged sexual misconduct is a shocking and confusing one. Many don’t even know what Title IX is or what it represents and they don’t know what their rights are. Our team wants to make sure that students who have been accused of sexual misconduct at an academic institution are fully aware of their options and understand the process they are about to go through.
What Is Sexual Misconduct?
Sexual misconduct under Title IX can include
Harassment can be verbal or physical in nature and could include repeated unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other sexual interactions that the accuser feels created an environment so hostile that they felt unable to continue being present.
This specifically addresses penetration of any kind.
Forcing someone to perform sexual acts, fondling, and attempted rape are covered under sexual assault. Basically, sexual contact that takes place without the accuser’s permission.
While there is no denying that these horrible crimes do happen, sometimes the accusations occur simply because of a misunderstanding or the fact that the accused, also known as the respondent, was in the wrong place at the wrong time. These situations put the accused student’s college careers and professional futures on the line.
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What Should I Expect If I’ve Been Accused Of Sexual Assault?
This process is never easy, but knowing what to expect can at least help to prepare the respondent for what is to come.
Respondents should expect that:
They Will Be Presumed Guilty
When it comes to sexual assault cases, friends, school staff, and the authorities nearly always perceive the respondent as guilty. It’s not uncommon to feel completely alone and to feel as though others are treating you differently or unfairly.
A No-Contact Order Will Be Issued
According to the Department of Education, the accuser and the accused should be kept separate throughout the entire process even if the allegations haven’t been proven. This is why a no-contact order will be issued and if that order is violated, the consequences can be severe.
The problem for the respondent is that this may mean they are unable to attend classes and school events that the accuser also attends, stalling any progress they may be making academically or professionally and taking away opportunities that they may not have again.
The Process Will Be Confusing
Every single school has been given a general set of guidelines to follow but the procedures that have been put into place are different at each school. It takes time to become familiar with these procedures and even though all of the necessary information should be available to all parties involved, the hearing that will take place often occurs in 60 days or less, leaving little time to process the information and to collect evidence.
Steps To Take If You’ve Been Accused Of Sexual Misconduct
There are steps any student can take if they’ve been informed that they are under investigation. This includes:
Contacting An Attorney
The sooner you contact an attorney the better. Not only does it help to have someone to talk to and to support you during this difficult time, but an experienced attorney can investigate the allegations, collect evidence, and represent you during a hearing. The chances of a favorable outcome become significantly higher when working with an attorney.
Avoid The Alleged Victim
Humans naturally want to talk to the person that has accused them of something, to try and fix the situation. However, this is the worst thing that a respondent can do. Not only is there likely a no-contact order in place but approaching a victim may be seen as harassment.
Don’t Approach Witnesses
Witness statements can be invaluable but let a lawyer handle obtaining statements, If you approach the witness, it may be seen as an attempt to change the story or intimidate them.
All paperwork and communications from the school, the alleged victim, their family, or their legal counsel, and any other valuable information should be kept. This includes any social media interactions from prior to the alleged assault.
Each of these steps is important because without help or the proper evidence, the consequences that may occur can be devastating.
Consequences Of Being Found Guilty
One thing that doesn’t often sink in during the initial shock of being accused of sexual assault is how serious this is and how much it can impact a student’s future.
If the student is found guilty of the sexual misconduct they have been accused of, they face having that information placed on their academic record, being expelled from the school, and potentially being unable to pursue a career in their chosen field. All of this during a period of time that is supposed to prepare them for the rest of their life.
Will The Police Be Involved?
While it is possible that the respondent also faces criminal charges, that’s not always the case. The investigation and committee hearing that will occur with the school is completely separate from any criminal charges that may be filed.
Why Would Someone Make A False Accusation?
There are generally four things that would cause someone to falsely accuse another student of sexual misconduct:
Sadly, those will a mental illness are generally suffering from a psychosis which means that they believe they have been assaulted. Without help, over time, they will continue to accuse others of crimes that never happened.
Often those who seek to gain something accuse those they know have monetary funds.
Sometimes, when someone feels that they’ve been deeply wronged, they seek revenge on the person they think caused them harm. When accusing someone of sexual misconduct, the accuser seeks to ruin friendships, college aspirations, and future careers.
The Accuser Needs An Excuse Or Alibi
Sometimes, out of shame or regret, the accuser wants to change the narrative of what happened by making themselves a victim, not realizing that what they are doing is ruining someone else’s life.
Don’t Be Afraid To Get Additional Help
Even with the support of family, friends, and a legal team, this is a very difficult time. Don’t be afraid to seek help from a counselor or therapist who can also help with the mental and emotional stress of the situation.
Title IX Links