Sexual assault and harassment on college campuses is an incredibly serious issue, and whether you are the victim or the accused, you need a student sexual misconduct lawyer who understands campus sexual misconduct proceedings and who can fight for your rights. Contact Allen Harris today to learn more about how our firm can assist you.
How is Sexual Assault Defined?
Though the legal definition of sexual assault varies state by state, sexual assault occurs – generally speaking — when a person commits any non-consensual sexual act against another person, which can include a range of conduct from unwanted touching to forced sexual intercourse. Sexual assault can also occur when a person commits a sexual act with someone who is unconscious, incapacitated by alcohol or drugs, or otherwise incapable of providing consent. Moreover, even if someone consents to some acts in a sexual encounter, that does not mean they have consented to other sexual acts. Consent can be revoked at any time.
It’s also important to understand that the definition of sexual assault on campus is usually different from the definition under the criminal justice system. Sexual conduct that is not illegal may still constitute sexual assault under a campus definition. For example, most colleges and universities have adopted policies requiring “affirmative consent.” This is a higher standard than the law requires – under an affirmative consent standard, sex is considered nonconsensual unless there is affirmative evidence that the other party said or indicated yes, rather than just not saying no.
What is a School’s Role in a Sexual Assault Case?
Because sexual assault is a type of sexual misconduct covered by Title IX, all schools have procedures for handling sexual assault cases. But often, these procedures are designed to serve the institution’s best interests and do not provide students – both complainants and respondents – with the support and fair process they need.
Campus Student Sexual Misconduct Lawyers | Defending Your Rights
Title IX protects students throughout the country against discrimination on the basis of sex, including sexual harassment. If you believe that you are a victim of sexual harassment on campus or if you have been accused, Allen Harris is here to help.
Sexual Harassment Defined
Sexual harassment in the educational setting occurs when sexual conduct – verbal, physical, or visual – prevents someone from accessing or benefiting from educational opportunities. Examples of verbal harassment might include unwanted, lewd comments about a person’s body or spreading rumors about someone’s sexual activity. Visual sexual harassment can occur through the display or sharing of obscene pictures, messages, or objects.
A School’s Duty When Sexual Harassment is Reported
Different schools define sexual harassment in different ways. However, Title IX requires all schools to take steps to prevent sexual harassment and investigate reported abuse. A pattern of recurring behavior may constitute sexual harassment, but investigators can also find that a single incident constitutes a violation.
What to do if You are a Victim of Sexual Harassment on Campus
If you have experienced sexual harassment on campus, be sure to gather as much documentation as possible about precisely what occurred and when. For online harassment, take screenshots as proof of the harassment, with a record of time and date. This is particularly important since text messages and social media posts can later be erased. If you have been subjected to sexual harassment, you can report the harassment to the school’s Title IX coordinator. If your school is unresponsive to legitimate complaints or retaliates against you in any way for making a complaint, litigation may also be appropriate.
Allegations of Sexual Harassment
If you have been accused of sexual harassment, you will face some type of investigative process and, depending on the circumstances, a hearing with an opportunity to ask questions of the parties and witnesses. In any case involving allegations of campus sexual misconduct, both parties are entitled to an advisor of their choice to accompany them to all disciplinary meetings and hearings. A skilled and compassionate campus disciplinary lawyer can help guide you through the process and protect your rights.
Contact a Student Sexual Misconduct Lawyer from Allen Harris
Students involved in campus sexual assault proceedings or under investigation for sexual harassment should seek the assistance of a qualified attorney as soon in the process as possible – even before a complaint is filed with the school. An attorney can guide you through the investigative process and make sure your rights are protected. A sexual assault lawyer can help ensure that your basic rights to a fair proceeding are preserved, that you get access to relevant evidence, and that you have the right to present your case. And ultimately, if the school bungles the matter or looks the other way—by refusing to take proper action, discriminating against you, or otherwise acting improperly—an attorney can file a civil suit. Contact Allen Harris today.