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Campus Sexual Assault Defense Lawyer Norm Pattis Looks at Defenses to Criminal Charges for Conduct on a College or University Campus

Transcript of Attorney Norm Pattis’ Overview of Campus Sexual Assault Prosecutions, Effects of Title IX Issues and University and Criminal Defense Strategy used in Recent Yale Campus Rape Defense Victory

You’re probably listening to this because you’ve just either gotten a telephone call or received a letter or, perhaps, a knock on the door from a representative of your university or college.  The Dean’s Office or the local police want to talk to you. 

You see, you’ve been accused of sexual assault – campus sexual assault.  A classmate’s claiming you raped him or her, or that you otherwise engaged in sexual misconduct in violation of a university or college policy.

What do you do? 

They say it’s just time for you to come in for a fact-finding. 

You can have a faculty advisor to walk you through the school’s Title IX process, but don’t be fooled.  If you go into this process alone, you’re a lamb about ready to be slaughtered.  Welcome to the brave, new world of campus sexual assault.

It all starts easily enough.  You go to a party.  Perhaps, people have had a little too much to drink.  One thing leads to another.  And, before you know it, you find yourself in the arms of a person you scarcely knew. 

Or, perhaps, you find yourself with somebody you’ve known for a long time who decides the next morning that whatever had happened the night before was not consensual.  They go to the Dean’s Office, and they make a complaint of sexual assault. 

“Accuser” Becomes “Victim” With No Proof

Instantaneously, the college or university calls this person, not an “accuser,” but a “victim.”  And, victims have rights, you see.  Colleges, in order to maintain their federal funds, must take seriously the claims of victims in order to hold federal funding under Title IX.

Each college and university in the country has a Title IX administrator and an infrastructure and a set of policies designed to investigate these complaints. 

All of these policies take, as a given, that complaints are, on their face, valid.  The accuser becomes a victim just by virtue of having made an accusation. 

There’s something wrong with this nomenclature, this taxonomy.  A person who makes an accusation has the responsibility to prove their accusation.  In criminal courts and in civil courts that’s called “the burden of proof.”  On college campuses and at universities throughout the land, the burden of proof is dispensed with. 

An accusation is as good as proof.

Thus, we see discussions of the so-called rape epidemic on campus.  We see scholars writing about rape culture.  Almost none of these accusations are tested in an evidentiary hearing.  Most students receiving them buy what the university is selling, and either enter into agreements to be suspended or expelled in exchange often for keeping this event from being registered on a transcript that might follow them to a new institution.

I’m here to tell you, you can fight back. 

You can fight back, and you can win. 

But, if you’re intent on doing so, you need to get a lawyer immediately.  Look in the phone book, find a criminal defense lawyer, find a Title IX lawyer.  Call us – we have a nationwide law practice.

We’ll help you find somebody, or we’ll represent you ourselves. 

Defending a Campus Sexual Assault Criminal Charge

Here is what’s necessary to defend:  An accusation is merely a statement from somebody that they believe they’ve been violated or their rights have been violated in some form or another. 

You have a story to tell, a point of view, a perspective, on what happened on the night in question.  You need a lawyer to help you perfect that story and to learn how to attack the accusations against you. 

More often than not, campus sexual encounters aren’t criminal.  They may not even violate university policies. 

What they are, are confusing encounters between two young adults experimenting with a very explosive part of adult life.  It’s no surprise that some of these experiments don’t work out, but a failed experiment or an experiment gone awry, a lifestyle chance in the dead of night one night ought not to ruin your life.  You need to learn to fight back. 

Under no circumstances should you agree to speak to the university or to a police officer without a lawyer present.  Any words that you utter can and will be used against you. 

They’ll be admissions.  You may believe that the encounter was consensual.  Your accuser, however, is going to be believed by the university merely because they are making the accusation. 

Title IX funding could be deprived of the university if they don’t take these accusations seriously.  In the university context, you will not have a right to a jury.  You will not have a right to a professionally trained judge. 

Don’t Talk to Disciplinary Committee, University Officials or Police – Lawyer Up Fast

You will, most likely, sit before a panel of administrators and students selected to serve on a disciplinary committee.  These individuals have not been trained in the law, but they’ve been trained in university policies, policies frankly that look more like “MeToo” cheerleading manuals than they do a commitment to due process and fundamental fairness and fact finding.

Your first step, after listening to this audio, should be to contact a lawyer and to sit down with that lawyer and give that lawyer a full and complete statement of what you can recall of the events surrounding the allegations made against you. 

Sometimes, that’s not very easy because the university may not share what the accuser has said.  They’ll come to you and say, “Tell me about what happened in your dorm room the other night.” 

Don’t answer that question. 

The accuser bears a burden of proving the accusation.  Your silence requires the accuser to come forward and give a version of events.  That version of events then becomes the fundamental tool in your defense. 

You know what the accusation is, and you’re capable of defending against it.  Never speak to a campus administrator or a police officer without first reading or seeing the accusations against you.  Doing so is suicidal and will get you thrown out of school if not thrown in jail. 

And, make no mistake about it, these cases can result in criminal charges. 

What is Consent in Campus Situations vs Criminal Court Consent Definition?

Now, most universities give orientations to students when they come in about consent and sexual encounters. 

And, “Yes means Yes” is a popular doctrine on campus.  It means that unless you get an affirmative representation from your partner that they are willing, ready, and able to engage in sexual conduct of one sort or another, you act at your peril. 

But, nobody really expects young people in the heat of passion to walk around with affidavits from one another to sign between each kiss, each pet, each stroke.  That’s simply ridiculous. 

In the criminal courts, consent is somewhat different.

A person can give consent either explicitly or implicitly.  Implicit consent usually is evaluated in terms of the totality of the circumstances, the nature of the relationship between the parties, how the parties behaved that night, their communications in the days and weeks leading up to the event.  Even what they wore can become a relevant factor.  A person behaving flirtatiously and dressed in a sexually provocative outfit ought not to complain when someone questions her or him about their intentions and their flirtations and provocations. 

Only a fool would believe otherwise.

In the criminal courts, you face four harms – being labeled for the rest of your life as a convicted felon which will serve as a barrier to almost any professional career, incarceration for a period that could last for years if not decades, the requirement to register as a sex offender which will haunt you throughout the rest of your days, and also a lengthy period of probation in which you must be treated as a sex offender.

An experienced lawyer can help you navigate these waters and avoid these harms if they can be avoided. 

Landmark Yale Case – Jury: “Not Guilty on All Counts” Norm Pattis Defense

Our office recently defended a Yale student who was accused of using physical force to overcome a classmate in a room one night.  Or, in the alternative, taking advantage of a classmate who was too drunk to give consent. 

At trial, the State of Connecticut introduced evidence of their text communications and asked the complaining witness, the accuser, if, in fact, that her messages reflected any sort of romantic intent.  She said they didn’t.  They were normal communications. 

We questioned her for hours on the stand about those communications asking her whether the decision to send a Shakespearean sonnet or the use of various emojis didn’t, in fact, convey a flirtatious intent. 

The prosecution, itself, then introduced into evidence a cat costume she wore to the Halloween party.  It did so for purposes of showing that she’d vomited on portions of the garment, which was consistent with the State of Connecticut’s claim that she had been intoxicated and unable to consent. 

We asked her why she chose such a provocative and revealing costume. 

We also questioned her about the surveillance video in which she was seen walking arm in arm with her accuser across campus.  She claimed that she was stumbling and drunk and unable to support herself.  But, for all the world, it looked as though two young lovers were strolling across campus, a conclusion the jury agreed with when they acquitted my client of rape in deliberations that did not even last for three hours. 

Our client is now seeking readmission to Yale.  We have our doubts about whether the campus will be permitted to let him in. 

MeToo Movement Creates Mass Hysteria on College Campuses from NY to California

Campuses are dangerous places right now.  The MeToo movement has captured what it perceives to be the moral high ground but really is a form of mass hysteria.  Flirtation has become a crime.  Asking obvious questions about communications and costumes has become morally suspect. 

And, from the MeToo perspective, any person who merely accuses someone must be a victim.

You need to make sure that if you are accused of misconduct, the accuser bears the responsibility of proving their accusation.  Do not cut and run just because the environment on campus is infected with nonsense about an epidemic of rape or rape culture. 

The epidemic is irresponsible accusations and the refusal to let common sense guide the decision about what takes place on campuses in the dead of night. 

Young people, alcohol, easy access to contraceptives, easy access at campus health clinics to the morning after pill, there’s a sexual revolution going on on campuses right now.  But, it’s not your mother’s and father’s sexual revolution where permissiveness was the norm.  Now, a new prudishness has taken root. 

Campus culture is saturated with discussions of microaggressions and overheated claims of the need to respect boundaries of unimaginable sorts and has made it almost impossible for young people to avoid being accused of wrongdoing, at least once in their careers. 

Protect Your Rights & Your Future – Hire a Criminal Lawyer Experienced with University Rules and Realities

When catastrophe strikes, be sure you call a lawyer. 

A lawyer may, or may not, be the difference between the future you envisioned when you first got a letter from your college and the future campus administrators and whatthe MeToo movement has in mind for you as a result of the most recent letter that led you to listen to this podcast. 

Accused of Sexual Assault on a College or University Campus? Call Us before talking to University officials or Police. There is always a defense. No-Cost confidential call with a Campus Sexual Assault lawyer: 203.393.3017 OR CONNECT ONLINE

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