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Chicago College Sexual Assault/Harassment Lawyer
Many college students believe that teasing, flashing, or other acts of a sexual nature are harmless and simply to be seen as entertaining. Increasingly, however, targets of these behaviors, both male and female, are reporting them to the administration of your college or university. Regardless of your stated intention or belief that the conduct was welcomed or accepted by the other person, if your actions are received as threatening or even just unwanted, you may be accused by your school of serious sexual misconduct or harassment. Acts such as unwanted sexual advances, exposure, voyeurism, or sexually explicit communications are all violations of your college’s code of conduct and may result in extremely serious long-term consequences.
Sexual Assault and Title IX
Federal laws such as the Clery Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 require colleges and universities that receive funds from the federal government to take sexual complaints extremely seriously and, if they fail to do so, they may face sanctions from the Department of Education. Under Title IX, schools are required to investigate complaints of sexual harassment. For this reason and more, schools often initiate an extensive investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct or harassment.
If the school determines that you violated the code of conduct and the alleged misconduct or harassment occurred, the administration is required to do whatever is necessary to prevent and deter future misconduct. This often means that violators face harsh penalties including:
- Disciplinary probation
- Formal reprimand
- Loss of financial aid or housing
In the event that you are suspended or expelled, your transcript will likely reflect the fact that you violated the code of conduct regarding sexual harassment or misconduct. This can substantially affect your chances of admission into other universities or advanced degree programs and ultimately your career.
In many cases, your school will conduct a disciplinary hearing to determine whether a violation occurred. Unlike a traditional criminal case, however, you do not have the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty and the allegations against you do not have to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt for punishment to be imposed. You may not even have the right to have a lawyer with you or appeal the decision in the future.
Sexual misconduct and harassment cases often involve the alleged victim’s word against yours. For this reason, it is important to find any evidence possible to assert your innocence. Text messages, emails, witness reports, and more can demonstrate that any sexual conduct that occurred was not unwanted. Often, however, you may not realize that such evidence exists. An experienced attorney will know how to investigate the circumstances of your case in order to gather evidence and build an effective defense against the accusations.
What is Sexual Assault
Sexual assault can occur in many ways, including the following:
- Compelling a person to have sexual contact without their permission through force or threat of force
- Sexual contact with a person who is unable to consent to the contact because of intoxication by drugs or alcohol
- Sexual contact with a person who has a mental, intellectual, or physical disability that renders them incapable of consenting
The term “rape” refers to the most serious degree of sexual assault that involves actual sexual intercourse. Any degree of sexual assault can result in serious consequences, however.
Penalties for Sexual Assault
Schools that receive federal funding are subject to specific laws regarding sexual assault or rape on campus. Both Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Clery Act have strict requirements to report and to prevent instances of sexual violence among students or faculty. Because of these laws, school administrations take potential sexual assault and rape violations very seriously and aggressively investigate victim complaints to avoid non-compliance with the law. Schools further often impose the harshest penalties possible, which often involve suspension or expulsion. An expulsion for rape will often prevent you from being accepted at another reputable education institution and can, therefore, have long-lasting consequences.
In addition to school-imposed penalties, if school officials decide that a rape or sexual assault occurred, they will almost certainly report it to local law enforcement. This can result in an investigation and criminal charges issued by the state against you. The penalties you may face for a sexual assault or rape conviction in criminal court can involve lengthy prison sentences and costly fines.
Defending Sexual Assault Allegations
If you have been accused of rape or sexual assault by your college or university administration, it is imperative that you speak to an experienced college defense attorney as soon as you can. Often, students facing this type of allegation believe that if they simply tell their side of the story, the investigation will be dropped. This it generally not the case, however, and sexual assault or rape allegations can have devastating consequences for your life.
Chicago College Sexual Assault and Harassment Attorney
The Law Office of William Carlos Weeden is a zealous advocate to clients facing Campus Disciplinary Proceedings and Title IX hearings. We will provide you with competent advice and communicate with you every step of the way throughout the disciplinary process, and will tirelessly defend your rights.
William Carlos Weeden is licensed to practice law in Illinois. Your school cannot prevent you from selecting the advisor of your choice, including an attorney or other professional. Outside of Illinois, Mr. Weeden’s assistance is educational advice, and does not constitute legal advice or the practice of law.
Law Office of William Carlos Weeden
The information on this website has been provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice nor create an attorney-client relationship or warrant that a certain result will be attained in a specific case. The Supreme Court of Illinois does not recognize certifications of specialties in the practice of law and the certificate, award or recognition is not a requirement to practice law in Illinois. We encourage you to contact us or another legal professional for advice regarding your individual situation.