A report of a sexual assault that happened on February 9 left West Chester University students on high alert. A text alert reporting the incident went out to students all over campus, heightening suspicion and fear for many. This sexual assault at West Chester University has brought attention to the policies and procedures put in place to protect victims.

However, if you are ever accused of sexual assault on campus you may face consequences at the institutional level in addition to typical criminal penalties. Contact Skinner Law Firm if you are the subject of an accusation and need representation.

Call (610) 436-1410 for a free and confidential consultation about your situation

West Chester Sexual Assault: Short-Term Measures

Anyone may report sexual misconduct to the Title IX officer at West Chester University, according to their Sexual Misconduct Policy. If you are accused of sexual misconduct, your day-to-day life could change immediately as the university takes measures to help the alleged victim. These measures include:

  • Housing reassignments to keep the complainant and accused apart
  • Class reassignment to keep the complainant and accused from being in the same class
  • Adjustments to transportation, work, and parking to keep the accused and accuser separate
  • A ban on contact between the parties

How West Chester University Investigates Sexual Assault

From there, the Title IX Deputy Coordinator moves forward with their investigation. They conduct a fact-finding investigation that involves communicating with all involved parties and witnesses.

The disciplinary process begins when a hearing officer listens to the case or it goes through a formal hearing in front of a board. The board listens to the victim’s case and the accused may pass questions to the board to ask the victim.

The accused presents their response and must answer questions posed by the board. Each of the individuals on the Conduct Board may vote, based on the preponderance of the evidence standard. This means that they simply have to decide if it is more likely than not that sexual misconduct happened.

After the board votes, the accused may face sanctions. These may include:

  • Disciplinary reprimand
  • Disciplinary probation
  • Deferred suspension
  • Suspension
  • Expulsion
  • Loss of housing or dining privileges

How Sexual Assault is Handled at Other Universities

Several other colleges and universities in the area take a similar approach to the one used at West Chester University.

At Widener University, those accused of sexual misconduct often face suspension or expulsion. At Immaculata University, those accused of sexual misconduct may temporarily be subjected to a no contact order, be removed from university housing, have their class schedule changed, be restricted from university activities, or have changes made to their work or job assignment. If they impose sanctions, they may restrict campus privileges, revoke good disciplinary standing, take away university housing, put students on probation, deny access to specific buildings or facilities, or recommend suspension or expulsion.

Title IX is the law that determines the sanctions used by almost every college and university in the United States.

Sexual Assault Criminal Penalties

On top of the misconduct investigation at West Chester University, you should also prepare to go through the criminal justice system. The burden of proof is much higher here, but so are the penalties.

Those convicted of rape may pay fines as high as $25,000 and spend up to 20 years in prison. Those convicted of sexual assault may spend up to 10 years in prison and pay fines set by the court. Indecent assault is a misdemeanor but can still lead to time in prison and heavy fines.

In any case in which a defendant is convicted of a sex crime, they must also register as a sex offender.

Reach Out to Skinner Law Immediately

If you have been accused of sexual assault, you need criminal defense representation right away. Whether you face penalties at the university level, through the criminal justice system, or both, your future is dependent on the strength of your defense.

Call Skinner Law Firm at (610) 436-1410 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Article Author

Michael J. Skinner, the founder of Skinner Law Firm LLC, is a former prosecutor with the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.

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