5 Things You Must Never Do if You Are Accused of Sexual Misconduct on Campus
1. Do Not Talk About Your Case to Anyone But Your Lawyer
Your friends may be a good source of support, but we’ve seen friends become former friends because they repeat what one of our clients has said about a case to someone else.
Please, for your sake, don’t talk about your case or what happened or the person who is accusing you to your friends, your professors, people from high school, or anyone except for your lawyer, a mental health professional, and your parents.
2. Don’t Withhold Information from Your Attorney
Sometimes a person caught up in a Title IX proceeding doesn’t want to share everything with his lawyer. This is a mistake.
Even minor things can matter later, and it’s good for your lawyer to know what’s going to happen. If you bump into your accuser on campus, or if you hear someone talk about the case, or if something happens in the case—all of these are things you need to let your lawyer know.
3. Don’t Trust School Officials
Even if the school people are nice, don’t trust them. Most people who work at colleges or universities are nice people. People, in general, don’t like conflict.
School officials are not there to help you. They are looking out for the school’s interest, not yours. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that someone who acts like your friend is your friend. Those are the people who can often do the most damage.
4. Do Not Put Your Head in the Sand
College life has a lot of demands. You have homework and extracurriculars and a social life. It’s hard enough to think about classes and everything else that goes along with college, let alone thinking about your disciplinary case.
Moreover, thinking about your disciplinary case is unpleasant. It is completely understandable to not want to deal with it.
But, as understandable as it is, you need to be actively engaged with your case. You’ll have to represent yourself, which means you need to prepare for any interview or hearing. It may be that you have a test that you need to study for. Any lawyer will work with you as much as possible, but it may be that there are times when your case has to come first.
5. Don’t Shut Your Family Out
Some of our clients’ parents tell us that having a child face an allegation of sexual assault on campus is the hardest thing they have been through as a family.
Other times, we see people who told their parents too late that they are facing a disciplinary charge, and their case can suffer tremendously.
Giving advice about being a family is, of course, far outside of our expertise. But we’ve seen a lot of different families go through this, and the ones who emerge on the other side—to our eyes—are the ones who support each other, try to understand each other, and have each others’ backs. We’ve also seen families who use an allegation as a way to dredge up past events, or talk about things that could have been different. To our eyes, that adds stress to an otherwise very stressful situation.
Every family is different, and navigating how much should be shared within the family is difficult for everyone. But we’ve seen people do better when there’s no question that the family is in this together.