Things college students accused of sexual assault should know.

I used to work in higher education and have read a great deal regarding how title ix cases are handled, so I thought I’d offer some insights. I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, simply some points to consider, should you or someone you know end up being accused:

1. Mandatory reporting: If you learn someone is spreading a rumor about you, you may be tempted to seek advice from a professor, coach, RA, etc. What you need to know is these people are probably mandatory reporters. By college policy, title ix and the Cleary Act, they are probably bound to report any instances of POTENTIAL sexual assault or harassment. They can’t keep your conversation confidential. Even if this person believes you, their mandatory reporting obligations could initiate the very investigation you wish to avoid.

2. Anything you say can be used against you: When you hear someone is spreading false rumors, the instinct is to publicly defend yourself, but this can work against you. For example, if you prove you weren’t around on the day in question, the accuser can simply change her story to something you can’t disprove. Nothing requires her to stick to her initial accusation so the more you reveal, the more you are giving them the opportunity to better accuse you. It can pay to keep such information to yourself. Similarly, anything you say may later be used against you. In most situations, it’s best to keep your mouth shut until officially defending yourself or until a lawyer has advised you otherwise.

3. Administers are not your friend: You will probably get asked to meet with some administrator who will notify you of charges against you. This person may act as if they are on your side. They may insinuate things will be easier on you if you explain what happened. Don’t believe it. Do not attempt to defend yourself at this time. . Try to read about how your college system works prior to this meeting and ask questions about the process. Ask about the charges against you. Use this as an opportunity to learn what you can. Do not give them the opportunity to extract information from you that may work against you later.

Once you are aware official charges are forthcoming, get a lawyer. You may also be entitled to a campus advocate. One problem is that by the time you have any representation you may have already hurt your cause. The one piece of advice I will offer is that until you consult a lawyer, keep your damn mouth shut. As they say: anything you say can and will be used against you.

There are many relevant points to be aware of from this point forward, but I thought I’d keep this post to the main mistakes I’ve seen accused college men make which can hurt their cause early on before they have representation