It is 8:15 and you have just rolled out of bed to go to class. You check your email, and there is a message there from the Office of the President. That seems sort of important, so you open it. It says a couple of people from the Title IX Office would like to meet with you to discuss a confidential matter. It gives a specific date, time and location for the meeting and asks you to let them know if that date and time does not work for you.
WHAT TO DO: Do not respond to this message. You are being accused of sexual misconduct. It could be something minor, or a full blown rape allegation. The police may already be involved.
CALL YOUR PARENTS IMMEDIATELY.
Tell them you have been accused of sexual misconduct, and ask them to GET A LAWYER for you. Do not tell them or anyone else the facts of what happened between you and your accuser, yet. Do not email, text, Snapchat or send any other electronic communication to anyone. Save that for after you talk to the attorney.
You didn’t tell your parents yet, because you don’t think it’s that big a deal. You went to the meeting. The folks from the Title IX Office hand you some papers – a Notice of Investigation and a No Contact letter. The Notice of Investigation is 5 pages long, and after you read it, you still don’t know exactly what you’re accused of.
WHAT TO DO: Do not make any statements in this meeting, or answer any questions. Anything you say can be used against you at UVA, and in any criminal trial that may come about. CALL YOUR PARENTS. Yes, this will be a tough conversation, but doors are closing and you need to act as early as possible in this process, if you are going to protect yourself and have the best possible chance of a positive outcome.
You didn’t call your parents, because you’re embarrassed, and hoping this will go away. It’s not going away. You get an email from the assigned Investigators at your school. At least one of them will be a lawyer, but not for you. The Investigators would like to meet with you. Like the first email you got, this one contains a date, time and location. It even says they’ve “reviewed your schedule to avoid any conflict.” They’re expecting you.
WHAT TO DO: Call your parents and get a lawyer right away. If you go to this meeting without talking to an attorney, there is a chance you could say something that will hurt your case at UVA, or even put you in jail.
At the meeting, the Investigators spend hours asking you questions about yourself, your sex life, your relationships, and the specifics of the incident giving rise to the accusation in this case. The questions are uncomfortable. You are being recorded.
You get an email from the Investigators with a link to a “Draft Report”. It’s 25 pages long, and has hundreds of pages of exhibits attached. It doesn’t say whether you’re guilty or not. It does invite you to comment, but only gives you 5 days to do so.
You get an email from the Investigators with a link to the “Final Report”. The Final Report looks a lot like the Draft Report, except that the Final Report says you’re guilty. And it says you’ve got 5 days to request a hearing, if you disagree.
In 2011, the Dept. of Education, Office of Civil Rights issued a “Dear Colleague” letter to schools all across the country, which threatened the loss of federal funding unless they changed the way sexual misconduct cases are handled. Schools have been required to adopt changes that some people believe to be are unfair to accused students, and others believe don’t go far enough to protect victims.
UVA has adopted Policies and Procedures, and is making a major effort to change the culture on campus. Students are being educated that all sorts of behaviors which may have been considered “normal” before actually constitute sexual assault, and should be reported. UVA is taking reports of sexual misconduct seriously — So should you.
IF YOU ARE ACCUSED OF SEXUAL MISCONDUCT ON CAMPUS: CALL YOUR PARENTS & GET A LAWYER.
Please visit my Bio page for more information on the “LACK” of Due Process UVA affords students accused of sexual misconduct.
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