1. Call your parents and call an attorney experienced in college sexual misconduct cases immediately. Even if you are embarrassed, even if the accusation against you is baseless, even if you have evidence proving the accusation is false, and even if you think you can easily explain why you are not at fault, it is critical that you do NOT attempt to deal with this alone. Why:
- The college procedures regarding the investigation and adjudication of sexual misconduct cases are stacked against the accused. Unfortunately, mere truth and common sense are usually insufficient to protect you; you need someone experienced to help you navigate the process.
- The sooner you get an attorney experienced in these cases, the better. I have had clients who came to me late in the process who had thought they could handle the investigation or hearing without the benefit of an attorney, only to have experienced a bad result. It’s better to avoid pitfalls, rather than trying to fix mistakes after they have occurred.
- If possible, you should have an attorney at the first interview with the Title IX investigator or the campus police. Both the accuser and the accused are entitled to the same opportunities to have others present during a campus disciplinary proceeding, including the opportunity to be accompanied to any related meeting by an advisor of their choice.
2. Immediately save all texts, emails, social media and other communications with the accuser to a thumb drive, or other safe place (it’s best to keep two copies). If you can’t readily access the content of your texts, there is software for this purpose to enable you to save them.
3. Take screenshots of the accuser’s social media postings before and after the alleged incident (again, keep two copies). If you are blocked or unable to access the accuser’s social media, ask someone one else if he or she can take screenshots.
4. However, do NOT contact the accuser and do not ask your friends to contact the accuser. Most colleges will impose a No Contact Order between you and the accuser, and you do not want to violate that. Even if there is not yet such an order, you do not want to be accused of harassing the accuser.
5. Likewise, do NOT ridicule the accuser in social media or to others. Do NOT discuss the case in social media. Be circumspect about discussing the matter with others at your college.
6. Create a chronological outline of relevant events leading up to the alleged incident and after, as well as your communications with the accuser before, during and after the alleged incident. Be as thorough and detailed as possible regarding the alleged incident. Include, where possible, the names of witnesses, and the times, dates and places of events.
7. Make a list of individuals you believe have relevant information and obtain their contact information.
8. Email the school asking for a copy of all relevant campus videos and recordings as well as a copy of the file on this case.
9. Keep a log of all communications with the school and Title IX office regarding the allegations and investigation. Save all emails with the school and Title IX office.
10. Download your college’s policy and procedures regarding sexual misconduct in effect at the time of the alleged incident, as well as the policy and procedures regarding sexual misconduct in effect currently (there may or may not have been changes in policy or procedure).
If you, a loved one or friend has experienced any type of campus sexual misconduct, at any type of educational institution, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 240.507.1780.
ABOUT LISA BECKER
Lisa Seltzer Becker began practicing law in 1996. Since then, she has helped many clients in Maryland and the District of Columbia with their family law issues, including high-conflict divorces, custody cases involving special needs children, domestic violence, and premarital and postmarital agreements. Lisa is an experienced litigator, but is also a trained Collaborative practitioner and trained mediator.
For the last twelve years Lisa has also represented numerous students and families in education matters, including school discipline and bullying in public and private schools, and campus sexual assault/Title IX cases and academic misconduct cases in colleges.
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