Campus Sexual Assaults: Will a New Rule Give Students Ground to Have Cases Dismissed?

A new rule addressing sexual violence and harassment on college campuses may give accused students legal grounds to get their cases dismissed and limit a victim’s ability to seek help from school officials or campus police.

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Sexual Misconduct on College Campuses

Under a new proposed rule, schools may be required to address incidents of sexual misconduct only if the incidents occur on campus or within school programs and activities. Even if a student is enrolled in the school, incidents of sexual misconduct may be ignored by school officials when they happen off-campus. Incidents that occur on campus may be dismissed and unreported, leaving students with limited recourse for help.

The revision of President Obama’s rules by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos changes the intended scope of federal laws barring sex discrimination in education. Current federal guidelines urge colleges and universities to take action against any sexual misconduct that disrupts a student’s education, whether it takes place on-campus or off-campus. The proposed rule under DeVos will require schools to address incidents of sexual misconduct only when they occur within school programs or activities, excluding incidents that occur off-campus.

Due to confusing language, some school officials claim the new proposal allows schools to handle sexual misconduct cases off-campus at their own discretion, while others claim schools are barred from handling off-campus cases. Colleges have raised concerns that the new proposal will cut off the school’s authority at campus boundaries. The President of the University of Wyoming, Laurie Nichols, says that limiting a school’s powers off-campus will push sexual violence to off-campus areas where offenders are beyond a school’s reach for punishment. Nichols also emphasizes that refusal to take action off-campus will suggest indifference on the part of the institution and minimize the impact of sexual assault or misconduct on the student.

According to recent studies, acts of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and date rape are rising on college campuses around the country. At the University of Minnesota, one in four female undergraduate students say they have been sexually assaulted. In 2017, sexual assault cases at U of M rose significantly, but less than half were investigated by school officials. Most colleges admit that it’s difficult to track off-campus sexual assaults because many are never reported to Minnesota police or assault attorneys, but estimates are as high as 60%. Campus resources make it easier for students victimized by sexual assault to seek help, whether they live in student dorms or off-campus housing.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

What to Do If You Have Been Charged with a Criminal Offense

Confidential informants may provide integral information to help build criminal investigations, but how reliable is that information when they are receiving payment for their services? To protect them, state law requires the identity of informants be kept confidential. For those facing criminal charges, however, this creates challenges in questioning the accuracy and validity of the information given at trial.
Stay calm and compose after getting accused of a crime but not charged in Minneapolis, MN. Do not discuss the facts of your case with anyone, including your relatives and family members. Hire a criminal defense attorney with a demonstrated record of winning cases like yours. Your attorney will discuss your rights, guide you on how to cooperate with law enforcement within the legal boundaries, and build a solid defense strategy to fight the charges you could face in the future.
Expungement and sealing of records in Minnesota affect how your criminal history appears to government agencies and the public. The main difference between the two legal actions is that expungement permanently removes past arrests, criminal charges, or convictions from private and public databases, while sealing hides the criminal record from the public. Courts, government entities, and law enforcement agencies can access sealed criminal records.