Sexual Assault on Texas’ College CampusesPublished: Aug 30, 2023 in Sex Crimes
Sexual assault on college campuses in Texas and nationwide is an undeniable concern. It not only traumatizes victims but also impacts the accused and the community. One in 5 women and one in 16 men are sexually assaulted in college. But reporting remains low. More than 90% of sexual assault victims on college campuses do not report it.
These alarming statistics and the lasting repercussions underscore the need for comprehensive solutions to sexual violence in college communities nationwide.
Sexual Assault on College Campuses
It’s amid this bleak backdrop that we ask young adults to go to school. But Texas legislators, educators, and others are trying to make things safer.
This may be little comfort to those on campus. Hopefully, by understanding the gravity and implications of college sexual assault, you can better protect yourself and safeguard your rights.
University College Sexual Assault Stats
- Approximately 19% of women will be sexually assaulted at college.
- 5-6% of men will be victims of sexual assault during college.
- 90% of campus sexual assaults are committed by perpetrators that the survivor knows.
- 84% of female victims report being sexually assaulted during their first four semesters on campus. This is often called the ‘red zone’ on college campuses.
- 13% of women report being stalked during their time in college.
- 43% of college women report violent and abusive dating behaviors, including physical, sexual, technology-facilitated, verbal, or other forms of controlling abuse.
- Over 57% of college students who report dating violence experience it while in college.
Texas Laws Regarding Campus Sexual Violence
Responding to the alarming rate of sexual assault at universities like Baylor, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Texas Christian, and more, Texas legislators have enacted various measures to bolster safety and seek justice, particularly in cases regarding rape, stalking, and domestic violence. Recent examples include:
- HB 1096 (Baylor Bill): Inspired by the Baylor University sexual assault controversy, this mandates a policy and prevention programs related to campus sexual violence.
- SB 967 & SB 970 by Senator Kirk Watson: These bills aim to redefine consent, emphasizing an explicit “yes” rather than the mere absence of a “no.”
Title IX & College Proceedings
Title IX regulations address sexual harassment in educational environments. While Title IX covers forms of sex-based discrimination, in recent years, it has become associated with managing and preventing sexual harassment and sexual violence in schools and college campuses.
When sexual assault or misconduct allegations are made at school, they should be investigated by law enforcement. If sufficient evidence exists, they’ll make an arrest and forward the case to the prosecution. Under Title IX, the victim and the accused may also need to engage in an independent investigation and disciplinary process conducted by their school.
Title IX Accuser Can Expect:
- The Right to Report: An accuser, often referred to as a “complainant” in Title IX processes, has the right to report an incident of sexual harassment or violence to their school, regardless of where the incident occurred.
- An Investigation: Once an incident is reported, schools are obligated to investigate promptly. This is separate from any criminal investigation that might occur.
- Interim Measures: Schools may take steps to protect the complainant while an investigation is ongoing. This can include academic accommodations, counseling, changes in housing or work arrangements, and no-contact orders against the accused.
- Grievance Procedures: Schools must have established procedures for handling complaints of sex-based discrimination, harassment, or violence. These procedures must be equitable, providing the same rights to both the complainant and the respondent (the accused).
- The Right to an Advisor: Complainants have the right to have an advisor present during any related meeting or proceeding. This can be anyone, including an attorney.
- The Right to Be Informed: Complainants have the right to be informed of the outcome of the investigation, usually in writing.
- An Appeal Process: If either the complainant or the respondent is unsatisfied with the outcome, both parties can appeal the decision if the school’s policies provide an appeal process.
- The Right to Confidentiality: Schools must keep complaints as confidential as possible and inform the complainant about the extent to which they can guarantee confidentiality.
- Retaliation: It’s illegal under Title IX for schools to retaliate against someone for participating in a Title IX investigation.
Title IX’s process and specific procedures can vary by institution, so anyone involved in a Title IX process must familiarize themselves with their school’s policies.
Sexual Assault on Campus: Victims & The Accused
The topic of sexual assault on college campuses often focuses on the victims, and rightfully so. 34% of college student sexual assault victims experienced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and increased rates of depression and drug and alcohol abuse. However, it’s essential to acknowledge the profound effects on those accused of sexual assault, mainly when those accusations might be false.
In addition to formal sex crime charges, which carry possible prison time and sex offender registration, students accused of sexual misconduct also face potentially severe sanctions under Title IX, including expulsion. Other consequences for those accused of sexual assault at school are:
- Academic Repercussions: Even before any formal finding of guilt, an accused student might face immediate sanctions. They might be removed from classes, barred from facilities, or suspended. Such interruptions can severely disrupt a student’s academic progress, delay graduation, and affect future educational and employment opportunities.
- Social Stigma: In the era of social media, news of an accusation can spread rapidly. Friends, peers, faculty, and family might distance themselves from the accused. They could face isolation, exclusion from social groups or events, and outright hostility, all based on accusations without full evidence or a fair hearing.
- Psychological Stress: Living under the cloud of an accusation can be immensely stressful. The accused often grapple with feelings of anxiety, depression, and fear. The uncertainty of the outcome, potential career ramifications, and loss of social support can weigh heavily, leading to deteriorating mental health, substance abuse, or even suicidal thoughts in extreme cases.
- Economic Loss: Engaging in defense can be expensive. Legal consultations, therapy, and potential transfers to another institution can create significant financial burdens.
- Future Prospects: Even if cleared of all charges, the mere existence of an accusation can taint a reputation, affecting future employment, relationships, and opportunities. Some industries, particularly those involving trust or care of vulnerable populations, might be hesitant to hire someone with a past accusation, regardless of whether it was true.
Given these potential consequences, a robust system of fair representation and due process is crucial. Everyone deserves a chance to present their side of the story, access resources, and treated justly.
Dealing with College Sexual Assault Accusations
Facing sexual assault accusations on a college campus is daunting. And allegations must be taken seriously. These cases can spiral into serious criminal matters, and the immediate and long-term effects on your education must be considered.
Early legal intervention is crucial to understanding your rights and navigating the system, but Title IX hearings are not courts of law. Don’t rely on your institution for guidance. There are different standards of evidence, and certain protections given to the accused may not apply if you’re accused of sexual misconduct at school.
Remember, there are ways to improve things if you’re accused of a sex crime, but here are a few key points to keep in mind:
- Consult a Lawyer ASAP. A criminal defense attorney can offer guidance on your rights, potential consequences, and strategies for your defense. If a case is weak, you may be able to avoid official charges or formal investigation by your educational institution.
- Don’t Make a Statement: While it’s natural to want to clear your name, be wary of discussing the case with anyone, including friends or school administrators, without legal advice. Anything you say can be used against you.
- Know Your Rights: Familiarize yourself with your college’s procedures for handling sexual misconduct accusations. This includes the appeal processes, potential interim measures, and your rights regarding representation during hearings.
- Document Everything: Preserve any evidence or communications related to the incident. Text messages, emails, or witness statements can be vital.
- Stay Calm: Emotionally charged confrontations can complicate matters, whether with the accuser or others. Seek support through counseling or therapy. Above all, listen to your legal counsel.
With the proper legal support and resources, those facing accusations can navigate the process with confidence. Those without legal representation are often disadvantaged, subject to whatever discipline their school hands down, and more vulnerable to criminal prosecution.
Accused of Sexual Assault on Campus? Contact Ned Barnett.
Texas law and Texas universities need to strike a delicate balance between protecting victims and preserving the rights of the accused. But if you or a loved one have been wrongly accused of a sex offense on a Texas campus, you must act fast.
As a former prosecutor and experienced Texas sex crime defense attorney, Ned Barnett knows how cases involving sexual misconduct on college campuses work and what can be done to remedy sensitive situations.
At The Law Offices of Ned Barnett, we understand what it’s like facing false accusations and have a proven track record of achieving positive outcomes in complex sex crime cases. Attorney Barnett is a fierce advocate for the accused and a careful strategist for each of his clients. Let us review what happened, advise you, and fight to clear your name.
For a free and confidential consultation, call (713) 222-6767.