5 Things You Must Do if You Are Accused of Sexual Misconduct on Campus
1. Don’t Be Pressured Into Doing Something Dumb
Often school officials will tell you they need to meet with you very soon – sometimes the same day that they reach out to you or the next morning.
Do not go to that meeting.
Every school is required by the federal government to let you have an advisor. The school may want you to go to a meeting so they can tell you what the accusations are and get you to tell them something they can use against you. Don’t let them.
If a school official is pressuring you into meeting with them immediately, simply respond that you want to talk to your parents and get an advisor and that you will get back to them very soon. Then talk to your family immediately about what’s happening.
2. Lock Down Your Social Media
Expect that the school and your accuser will look at every bit of social media you have – Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook, and so on. Every social media platform will let you protect your content. You should do that – immediately.
Do not delete your content, though. Just make sure you control access to your information.
3. Preserve Other People’s Social Media
Other people may have content on their social media platforms that would help your case. Go through the social media account of each person who may be involved and save anything that might be relevant.
Maybe there’s a video of a party on Facebook that you need. Or a late-night tweet that shows whether someone was sober enough to send a tweet. Or a friend request that shows that how someone felt changed over time.
Whatever it is, know that cases are won or lost on facts. And the information on social media can be locked away as soon as the user decides that should happen. Before it’s too late, save everything you can on social media.
One note – make sure you are anonymous when you do. If the other user can see that you’re on his or her page, think carefully about whether the benefits of saving the information are worth the risks of having someone see what you’re doing.
4. Do Not Delete Anything
Do not delete any information that you have that could be at all relevant to what the school is looking into. Don’t delete text messages or social media posts or emails.
This doesn’t mean you should share it with anyone else, but make sure every bit of information you have is retrievable.
5. Comply with the no-contact order
Once you’ve been accused, the school will impose a no-contact order between you and your accuser. Make sure you comply with it. The no-contact order will feel incredibly unfair. If you didn’t do anything wrong, why should you have to change where you go on campus or who you hang out with? But schools take these very seriously.
There is nothing more frustrating than beating a sexual assault allegation but losing on a no-contact order violation. We’ve had students accused of violating no-contact orders by talking to their friends, who also happen to be friends of the accuser. We once had a client who was accused of violating a no-contact order by performing in public, just because he could have known his accuser would be in the audience. To be sure, that’s ridiculous—but it shows how seriously schools take these things.
For more tips on what to do if you are accused of sexual misconduct on campus, click here.