Investigations

COLLEGE SEXUAL ASSAULT & CAMPUS DISCIPLINE DEFENSE: INVESTIGATIONS & THE ROLE OF THE COMPLAINANT

The complainant, otherwise referred to by the school and law enforcement as the victim, typically serves as the catalyst for any college investigation into sexual misconduct by a student. In the experience of top New York school discipline lawyers, the complainant’s actions (including even the hiring of an attorney) often dictates how an investigation by the school into sexual assault or misconduct unfolds. Generally speaking, after submitting a formal report or complaint with the school’s student disciplinary office or campus police, the complainant is given leeway or discretion on whether to commence a school investigation, notify law enforcement or both. Almost as a rule, complainants often opt to commence a university investigation before handing the case off to law enforcement.

First, a school’s investigation is, logically, financed by the school. For a complainant contemplating a civil suit, a school investigation may provide all the evidence they need to secure a civil judgment against you or your son without spending much, if anything, on lawyers or discovery. Second, the substantially lower burden of proof at school disciplinary proceedings means a disciplinary sanction by the school is both quicker and more certain than a jury verdict in a criminal case. Third, accused students at many private high schools and universities do not enjoy the right to remain silent at their college disciplinary hearing. Therefore, an admission or incriminating statement is more likely to be made here than at a trial. Logically, this presents a powerful incentive not just for the accused student to have counsel present for the hearing but increases the likelihood that the complainant’s attorney will be present as well.

Naturally, none of this is in your or your son’s interest. Some universities and private boarding schools provide the accused, in cases where law enforcement has been notified, the right to postpone the school’s disciplinary investigation until after the conclusion of the criminal case. Despite what is at stake in a criminal proceeding, it is often in the accused’s interest to exercise this right when offered by the school. A law enforcement investigation is conducted within the parameters of a later criminal proceeding; a proceeding where you or your son has constitutional rights and the prosecution bears the burden of proof to establish guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt” – rights and processes which may be entirely, or partially, absent at the school disciplinary hearing.

If you or your child faces a school investigation into his alleged commission of sexual assault or misconduct at school, please seek legal help from an experienced New York expulsion and college sexual assault defense attorney whether you go to Columbia University, Fordham, NYU or any school in Connecticut, New Jersey or throughout the country – the attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman have represented students at schools as far away as in Alabama and Georgia. Universities and colleges are quicker than ever to expel male students on complaints of sexual misconduct upon the conclusion of their investigation. You or your son is at risk for both discrimination and arbitrary punishment for their alleged role in the perceived media crusade against colleges and university’s handling of sexual assault or harassment claims by female students. By consulting New York expulsion and disciplinary hearing lawyers with a proven track record of obtaining favorable results for their clients, you can take immediate steps to preserve yours or your son’s still bright future and good name.

For more information on campus disciplinary proceedings, additional articles on this increasingly polarizing subject of college sexual assault may be found here.