Over the last several years, public news stories concerning the #MeToo movement, widespread sexual abuse in Hollywood, and high-profile sexual misconduct cases in American universities, have drastically shifted the tone surrounding sexual misconduct cases in US schools. While victims must have a voice and legal options for pursuing justice, the accused often have little to no public support whatsoever. Unfortunately, the shift in attention to the rights of victims encourages some to be willing to shed the responsibilities of due process.
The DeVos administration over the United States Department of Education has been politically divisive for several years. Recently proposed changes to Title IX seem to fly in the face of the victim-focused mentality of the public when it comes to public sexual misconduct cases. The rise in sexual abuse cases has likely added to this. The new protections proposed to be added to Title IX aim to protect due process and ensure the rights of students accused of sexual misconduct.
Defending Against False Accusations
One of the biggest challenges facing any student accused of sexual assault in an American university is that, once the story becomes public knowledge, they will likely face social media backlash – no matter how much information is released. The current atmosphere of public discussion surrounding Title IX matters is vehemently one-sided. Those accused can easily feel as though the whole world is against them despite being wrongfully accused.
Another challenge is the fact that proving innocence in a charge of sexual misconduct can be incredibly difficult. In some situations, an individual is falsely accused of sexual misconduct after engaging in consensual activities with the accuser. In other situations, allegations are completely fabricated or levied against the wrong people. It’s essential for anyone facing a sexual assault or misconduct allegation to understand the proposed Title IX changes and how they might help.
Proposed Title IX Changes
The first proposed change issued by the DeVos administration is a clearer definition of the term “sexual misconduct” within Title IX. The more carefully defined definition aims to ensure all cases receive appropriate attention. The DeVos administration argues that the current definition is too nebulous and allows too much room for illegitimate cases to receive formal attention and use excessive school and legal resources.
Another proposed change is reducing the burden of investigation for universities and colleges. While they will still have investigative responsibilities under Title IX, there will be more of an impetus on accusers to secure legal representation and seek formal legal action, thus lowering the chances of false allegations receiving undue attention. Such changes will also increase the likelihood of a fair and balanced trial in court as opposed to the often one-sided investigative panels at many American schools.
The next proposed change would allow legal counsel and advisors on all sides of a sexual misconduct case to have the right to cross-examination. This change aims to increase transparency in sexual misconduct cases and ensure due process. The DeVos administration argues that this change aims to prevent “he said, she said” situations in which there is little to no physical evidence from automatically turning in favor of the accuser without due process. Unfortunately, many students who were falsely or wrongfully accused of sexual misconduct suffered administrative punishment and other losses due to school “courts” ruling against them without adhering to due process.
Under the Obama administration, the federal government’s effort to crack down on campus sexual misconduct backfired in the form of hundreds of lawsuits filed by accused students who believed their Constitutional rights were violated. The proposed changes to Title IX from the DeVos administration have met with heavy resistance. This resistance includes arguments that changing the definition of sexual misconduct will lead to conflicts between state and federal laws. Formal legal action from 18 states aims to block the proposed changes from taking effect.
What to Do If You Are Accused
Title IX exists to ensure due process in any sexual misconduct case in an American school. Different policies and procedures are in place for all phases of education. If you have been accused of sexual misconduct, secure legal representation as soon as possible. Once your case becomes public, public opinion will likely turn against you unless you have a solid defense in place.
An experienced Los Angeles sex crimes lawyer can help you build a strong defense, even with little to no physical evidence to support you. At the Law Offices of Stein & Markus, our team understands how difficult it can be to face a wrongful accusation of sexual misconduct. If you have questions about Title IX or need legal counsel after an accusation of sexual misconduct at school, contact the Law Offices of Stein & Markus today to arrange a consultation with an experienced defense attorney.
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