Campus Discipline Defense

COLLEGE SEXUAL ASSAULT & CAMPUS DISCIPLINE DEFENSE

Jeffrey LichtmanFor any New York graduate, undergraduate or private school student facing disciplinary action for allegedly committing sexual assault or rape on campus, please get help and please do so quickly. Too often students accused of sexual misconduct by a peer at school try to deal with the school’s disciplinary hearing alone, confident that by giving their side of the story the entire incident will be dropped or forgiven by the institution. As any New York expulsion and school disciplinary lawyer knows, this is a big mistake. Whether you are a student at Columbia University being investigated by the school’s Gender-Based Misconduct Office or at NYU facing a disciplinary complaint for sexual assault, your goal remains the same: avoiding expulsion while limiting your exposure to criminal charges by the state.

Understanding the competing interests and differing roles of the three main actors in any college or private high school disciplinary proceeding is a necessary first step to crafting a strong defense for these cases.

The School

In theory, a university or boarding school disciplinary committee is the impartial party that both investigates and adjudicates complaints of sexual assault and other misconduct by its students and faculty. In practice, however, they are as much an interested party as both the complainant and the accused.

Chief among the school’s interests is preserving institutional reputation, an interest particularly vulnerable to student complaints of sexual assault under a federal law known as the Clery Act. Under the Clery Act, the United States Department of Education may pursue fines and withhold federal loans from colleges and universities that fail to accurately report crime on or near their various campuses. 20 U.S.C. § 1092(f)(13). Additionally, under a recent 2013 amendment, schools must make public their policy on “prevent[ing] domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking” as well as any procedures “the institution will follow once an incident has been reported.” 20 U.S.C. § 1092(f)(8)(A).

Predictably, all of this increased scrutiny on how colleges and universities handle campus complaints of rape or sexual assault has had a visible effect on how male students, typically the accused in these cases, are treated at their college disciplinary hearing. If the threat of expulsion wasn’t bad enough, universities are increasingly taking a guilty until proven innocent approach with respect to accused students, with both top New York college discipline defense lawyers as well as “legal scholars growing concern[ed] that colleges are trampling the due process rights of accused male students amid a renewed push to end campus sexual assault.” Jake New, Suits From the Accused, Inside Higher Education, May 1, 2015, available at https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/05/01/students-accused-sexual-assault-struggle-win-gender-bias-lawsuits. Universities “railroading accused students” with expulsion after hearings on minimal credible evidence of sexual assault is a systemic problem that has become all too common in these cases.

In light of all that is at stake for you or your child when defending a claim of sexual assault or rape at a university or New York private school disciplinary proceeding, it is never safe to assume the school is unbiased. Retaining a top New York discipline defense attorney to act as your liaison with the school and stand in on the disciplinary hearing may prove effective in keeping them honest. Call the attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman to help you in your defense: we have represented numerous students accused of sexual assault by their schools and have decades of experience on resolving the cases favorably. Your future may depend on it.

Here are some more information on campus disciplinary proceedings, including the accused’s due process rights at both private and public university discipline hearings as well as how schools investigate claims of sexual assault: