College Title IX lawyers and student misconduct attorneys representing clients in cases alleging gender-based misconduct and dating violence accusations know firsthand how the system is not one founded in due process. Simply, university violations, from NYU and Columbia to Pace and Fordham, not only lack the checks and balances taken for granted in the criminal justice system but are enforced by university administrators often lacking the investigative experience necessary to pursue the right leads and effectively parse through the evidence. Couple these factors with a legal threshold that is not beyond a reasonable doubt but a preponderance of the evidence, the subject of an accusation is often left without the tools and recourse necessary to defend him or herself. Fortunately, for a client falsely accused of a horrific rape that morphed into claims she was a monster-like stalker and manipulative predator, after a five month long investigation and ultimate adjudication, the college exonerate our client. Only slightly less gratifying, the college found that the accuser was in fact the abuser leading to a responsible finding and multi-year hold on her diploma post-graduation.
Although I recently drafted a blog entry regarding the other “piece” of this case where the NYPD closed a criminal investigation into sexual abuse by our client without an arrest, the school ignored this fact deeming the detective’s finding that no probable cause existed a separate and distinct investigation. While in fact it was, we argued that the finding by the police and the wildly different story from the complainant was nonetheless relevant. Setting aside the simple fact that the tale told by the accuser varied greatly and called into question her credibility, the complete lack of reliable evidence presented by the accuser and the overwhelming and substantiated evidence provided by our client fell on relatively deaf ears. In no uncertain terms, the investigation should favorably ended favorably to our client shortly after it started.
Sadly, after being initially saddled with an interim suspension followed by her removal from campus, our client suffered for five months as the school remained seemingly indifferent to her plight even in the face of demonstrable, and reasoned evidence confirming that the complainant was telling a vilely putrid lie to protect herself from being exposed as, among other things, a dishonest fraud. Despite out impassioned efforts, constant diligence and forceful advocacy, the college stonewalled our innocent client at every turn, even bucking their own procedures. The icing on the proverbial cake occurred on our last day to review materials before the Title IX investigators submitted the same to the arbitrator for a decision. Frighteningly, the college presented us with a roughly ten-page statement from the complainant and a five-page supporting “witness” letter corroborating her story. For an inexplicable reason, the college had been sitting on these materials without sharing them for over one month. When asked why the college had not provided it to us and why they were precluding us from responding, the response was that our time to comment was over. Unwilling to recognize and accept that this stunt was improper, to say the least, the college ultimately relented somewhat and did not submit the “witness” letter after we argued it was drafted by the complainant herself and the school could not verify its source.
In lieu of reciting the facts, the HIPAA violation, and outright callous disregard for our client’s well-being, her exoneration could not be sweeter. Now a college graduate without the fear of a permanent mark on her transcript or the withholding of her diploma, she can concentrate on life’s important things…her future, family, friends, and simply, herself.
To learn more about university and college student misconduct cases including violations of codes of conduct and Title IX, review the above links.
Saland Law PC, a New York based law firm representing both accusers and the accused in criminal, Title IX, and Family Court matters, was founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors.