UT Students Accused of Sexual Misconduct
Title IX prohibits sexual harassment which includes acts of sexual violence or relationship violence. When an accusation of sexual misconduct involves a student at the University of Tampa, the student and their parents are shocked to find out how these cases are handled on campus.
Even when the police find no probable cause for the arrest or determine that the accusations are false, the University of Tampa might proceed with disciplinary action against the student for sexual misconduct or relationship violence. The term “relationship violence” includes stalking, domestic violence, dating violence, or any kind of sexual assault.
UT might take action against a student even when the conduct occurred off-campus, especially if another student was involved.
When another student makes an allegation of misconduct, the first indication might be a “Temporary No-Contact Order” that is served via an email message from the Director of Student Conduct / Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Students, in the Office of Student Conduct at The University of Tampa. The email might reference a “reported incident of conflict that has necessitated a temporary no-contact order with another student.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of Student Conduct at the University of Tampa is providing copies of paperwork, including the final reports, to each party via email since they might be unable to review the report within the Office of Student Conduct on campus. Other procedures have changed as a result of the health crisis.
Attorneys for Allegations of Sexual Misconduct at UT
At Sammis Law Firm, our criminal defense attorneys for students at the University of Tampa. Our main office is in downtown Tampa, just a short distance from the UT campus on Kennedy Boulevard.
Our attorneys can represent you during all dealing with the Office of Student Conduct and/or the Title IX coordinator. We can represent you at every stage of the case including during the incident review, hearing board meeting, registered student organization investigation, sexual misconduct relationship violence investigation, or an appeal to the dean.
The goal in these cases is showing that no violation of the Sexual Misconduct and Relationship Violence Policy occurred, or that there is insufficient evidence to conclude that the incident occurred as reported. We have represented students during these hearings against all kinds of allegations including false allegations of rape.
Never make a statement to another student, the staff, the faculty, or a security officer with the Department of Campus Safety at the University of Tampa until after you have spoken with an experienced criminal defense attorney. We can help you preserve your rights as you fight a false allegation.
Additionally, our attorneys can help you respond to the criminal accusations that might be prosecuted in court, while we fight the allegation of a student code of conduct violation on the UT campus. Let us put our experience to work for you.
Call (813) 250-0500.
The “No Contact” Order at the University of Tampa
When one student makes a complaint against another student, the Director of Student Conduct / Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Students, in the Office of Student Conduct at the University of Tampa, might issue a temporary or permanent no-contact order. Notice of the no-contact order is served via email.
The email message often informs the student that there was been a reported incident of conflict that has necessitated a temporary no-contact order with another student. The order prohibits “direct contact” which is defined to include, but is not limited to:
- Contacting through social networks, including on mutually “liked” pages
- Face-to-face contact
- Email or other written correspondence
- Phone calls, voice mails, and text messages
The order also prohibits “indirect contact” which is defined to include, but is not limited to:
- Hanging around housing or classrooms of the above-named individuals
- Blog or social network postings regarding the person named above
- Making contact through a third party, including mutual friends
The notice explains that it is the student’s responsibility to ensure compliance with the no-contract order. The temporary no-contact order shall last until dismissed in writing by the Director of Student Conduct / Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Students or his/her designee, whichever is sooner.
Any action deemed to be in violation of the no-contact order will be taken seriously and considered retaliation. Further action may be taken by this administration as a result, which could include suspension or expulsion.
Additionally, a copy of the no-contact order is provided to the University of Tampa offices as deemed necessary and appropriate by the Office of Student Conduct.
How are Sexual Misconduct and Relationship Violence Claims Reported?
Certain faculty, staff, and employees of the University of Tampa are obligated to report all given information about sexual misconduct or relationship violence to the Title IX coordinator or deputy Title IX coordinator.
Any of UT’s students, faculty, staff, or community members are permitted to file a complaint of sexual misconduct and relationship violence in any of the following ways:
- by reporting to any responsible employee or campus security authority;
- by filing an incident report on the Office of Student Conduct website by utilizing the Public Report Form;
- by consenting to a confidential employee sharing the information with the Title IX coordinator or deputy Title IX coordinator; or
- by contacting the Title IX coordinator or deputy Title IX coordinator directly.
The University of Tampa designates members of the staff or faculty to serve as confidential employees. Confidential employees such as victim advocates or University of Tampa counselors are obligated to withhold certain personal identifiable information of sexual misconduct reported by a student unless consent is given by the student to whom they are providing services.
The University of Tampa offers victim advocacy services to any student who has been the victim of a violent crime. The program is staffed with trained advocates who are designated by the Office of the Attorney General in the state of Florida to provide victim services.
Interim Actions Prior to an Incident Review Meeting
After a complaint is received, the Office of Student Conduct and/or Title IX coordinator or designee might impose interim actions prior to an incident review, hearing board meeting, registered student organization investigation, and/or sexual misconduct and relationship violence investigation.
UT might impose interim actions under any circumstances in which the Office of Student Conduct and/or Title IX coordinator or designee determines, in its sole discretion, determines the interim actions to be in the best interest of the University or its community. Those circumstances might include:
- if a student or registered student organization poses a threat of disruption of or interference with the normal operations of the University;
- to ensure the integrity of the investigative and/or student conduct process;
- to ensure a student’s and or registered student organization’s own physical or emotional safety and well-being; or
- to ensure the safety and well-being of members of the University community or preservation of University property.
If an interim action is imposed, the Office of Student Conduct will convene the formal student conduct process as soon as possible pending the normal due process requirements and upon consideration of the circumstances.
Notification of Relationship Violence or Sexual Misconduct Investigations
The Title IX coordinator at the University of Tampa will notify the responding student of the alleged sexual misconduct and/or relationship violence. A meeting will be scheduled with the Title IX coordinator or designee and the responding student.
The responding student will be notified at least one business day prior to the scheduled meeting. The responding student may bring an adviser to this meeting, including a criminal defense attorney.
The responding student will meet with the Title IX coordinator or designee. At this meeting, the responding student and their attorney will be able to review the written complaint of sexual misconduct and relationship violence.
At the conclusion of this meeting, the Title IX Coordinator or designee will assign the investigator(s) who will investigate the allegations of sexual misconduct and/or relationship violence.
Investigation of Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct
The University often falls short of its goal of responding to the complaint in a procedurally fair and impartial manner. After the complaint is received, the University begins a fact-finding investigation. Throughout the process, the complainant and respondent(s) may have an advisor present for all meetings.
The investigator(s) will prepare a preliminary written report at the conclusion of their initial fact-finding and then a final written report at the conclusion of their investigation. Before the preliminary report is finalized, the complainant and respondent(s) will be given the opportunity to review and comment on their individualized statements.
These statements will not be eligible for editing after the release of the preliminary report. The complainant and respondent may review the investigator’s preliminary report without the investigator’s summary of findings. The complainant and respondent(s) will be scheduled for a meeting with the Title IX coordinator or designee to facilitate the review of the preliminary report.
A complainant or respondent must submit any comments about the preliminary report within two business days after reviewing the preliminary report.
After any comments are submitted or after the two business day period has lapsed without comment, the investigator will address any identified factual inaccuracies or misunderstandings as appropriate at their discretion and complete a final written report. For the final report, the investigator will use the “preponderance of the information” standard to make determinations of responsibility in investigative reports.
Notification of Outcome and Sanctioning for Misconduct and Violence Violations
The University of Tampa will notify the complainant and respondent(s) of the outcome and sanctions at the same time. When the respondent is found to be “responsible” for sexual misconduct or relationship violence, the University of Tampa will initiate a sanctioning process. The sanctions are designed to:
- eliminate the misconduct;
- prevent its recurrence; and
- remedy the effect of the misconduct; and
- support the University’s educational mission and Title IX obligations.
The best result is getting a Notice of Conclusion and Findings that provides that either no violation occurred or that the student is “not responsible” for any violation.
The Notice of Conclusion and Findings will list the date and time of the alleged incident, the Title IX Report Number, and the location of the incident which is listed as on-campus or off-campus.
The notice will contain the case decision and rationale of the investigators that is included within the final investigatory report. In Title IX cases, the best result occurs when the case decision finds “No Violation of Sexual Misconduct and Relationship Violence.”
The policy section of the report will list the case rationale. In many of these Title IX investigations, the matter at hand is not whether sexual intercourse or contact between The Complainant and The Respondent occurred, because both may agree on that point.
Instead, the issue might be whether or not consent was present during sexual intercourse. The Investigators might determine that lack of consent to sexual intercourse is “inconclusive” and therefore find the Respondent “not responsible” for violating the university’s Sexual Misconduct policy of both Sexual Harassment and Nonconsensual Sexual Intercourse.
The Investigators might believe that the Complainant may have been intoxicated at the time of sexual intercourse, but not incapacitated, and therefore capable of providing or retracting consent. The Investigators will then determine whether they believe that the Respondent, as a reasonable person, would not have known that consent was not present during sexual intercourse.
Appeal of the Decision Regarding Sexual Misconduct or Relationship Violence
Either party may appeal the decision of the investigator(s) final investigatory report. The notice might require either party to file an appeal within two (2) business days of the date of this letter. Appeals should be submitted by the deadline listed via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parties may only seek an appeal within the guidelines stated below:
- To determine whether the original investigation was conducted in conformity with prescribed procedures. If a procedural error occurred it needs to be sufficient to alter the decision of the case.
- To consider new information, sufficient to alter an outcome, and was not available at the time of the original investigation, because the information could not have been known to the Complainant of Respondent parties at the time of the original investigation.
- All appeals are reviewed by the Dean of Students or designee who is free from any conflict of interest or bias.
Questions should be directed to Timothy Nelson, the Director of Student Conduct and Deputy Title IX Coordinator for Students at the Office of Student Conduct located on the campus at the University of Tampa in Vaughn 202, 401 W. Kennedy Blvd., Tampa, FL 33606.
The vice president of Student Affairs and dean of students or designee, in their sole discretion, will determine if the appeal is eligible for review by meeting the criteria outlined above.
The vice president or dean of students has the authority to render the following decisions based on their limited review:
- Accept the appeal and refer the case for a re-investigation by a new investigator(s);
- Affirm the decision of the original investigator(s); or
- Deny the appeal based on failure to meet established appeal criteria.
If a new investigation is ordered, then the new investigator will receive all statements given by any parties that were interviewed but the new investigator will not receive any conclusions or outcome from the original report.
All appeal decisions are final. Students will be notified within 10 business days of the appeal decision via their University email account.
UT’s Assumption of Good Faith Reporting
The University presumes that reports of sexual misconduct and/or relationship violence are made in good faith. A finding that the reported incident does not constitute does not mean that the report was made in bad faith.
The University encourages all individuals who have experienced or witnessed behavior they believe violates the Sexual Misconduct and Relationship Violence Policy to report the matter so that it may be addressed, without fear of consequences from the University.
Reports to Law Enforcement Agencies
The University of Tampa encourages anyone who believes they have experienced sexual misconduct and/or relationship violence to make a report to the Department of Campus Safety if the misconduct or violence occurred on campus, or to local law enforcement, for misconduct occurring off-campus.
Prompt reporting of the incident to law enforcement is critical because the collection and preservation of evidence relating to the reported sexual misconduct and/or relationship violence is essential for law enforcement investigations.
At the University of Tampa, the designated staff will, upon request, assist individuals in making reports to the Department of Campus Safety and/or appropriate law enforcement agency. For reports of off-campus sexual misconduct and/or relationship violence,
The Department of Campus Safety at the University of Tampa will help a student identify the appropriate jurisdictional law enforcement agency needed to file the report.
If a report of sexual misconduct and/or relationship violence is made directly to the Title IX Coordinator or designee, which may also constitute a crime, the Title IX Coordinator or designee will notify the Department of Campus Safety to ensure appropriate distribution of University-wide warnings, if needed, and maintenance of accurate reporting statistics.
Please note individuals who have experienced sexual misconduct and/or relationship violence may decline to make a report to a law enforcement agency.
This article was last updated on Friday, October 30, 2020.