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How one date can ruin your life

If the first date went well, you probably made plans to meet again. Maybe you got together at a mixer or party, and things seemed to be comfortable between you. When campus officials notified you that the person with whom you had been spending time reported you for sexual assault, you were shocked.

It doesn't make sense. The two of you seemed to enjoy each other's company, and you cannot recall a single time when your accuser said - or even suggested - that you should stop. While there may be personal reasons why the person made false accusations against you, some of the most common reasons include:

  • You rejected the accuser, or the accuser perceived some kind of rejection.
  • When the accuser was with you, he or she was being unfaithful to a romantic partner and made the accusation to deflect personal responsibility.
  • Someone convinced the accuser that your relationship was not consensual.
  • The accuser regrets the encounter and, in hindsight, considers it rape.
  • The accuser's parents found out about your relationship, so the accuser told them it was rape.

Your first thought may be to go straight to the university authorities and explain the situation. However, legal advisors urge you to think twice before taking this step.

Political pressure in the university world

College campuses are under heavy pressure from the federal government to take seriously every complaint of sexual misconduct. The media is also eager to disclose to the public that there are colleges in Georgia and across the country that foster a "rape culture." Because of this, those who investigate allegations are not concerned about protecting your rights or declaring you innocent until proved guilty.

The department in charge of student discipline should provide you with details about the process it will follow as it investigates your case. They should also tell you who will be on the panel at your hearing. Finally, they should be forthcoming with specific details about the allegations against you. If they do not provide you with this information, you have a right to demand it.

Protecting yourself from the beginning

However, it may not be a good idea to wait until you receive that important information before you procure legal help. If the disciplinary panel finds you responsible for the alleged misconduct, you could be expelled from school, and, in some cases, a record of your penalty will be added to your transcripts. After that, there is every possibility that the person accusing you of this act may also report it to police.

Seeking the advice of an attorney as soon as you suspect someone has reported you for sexual misconduct may be the most advantageous step you can take. You will benefit from having an attorney with the experience and resources to thoroughly investigate the claims against you. In addition, your lawyer will ensure that you receive the due process a college disciplinary panel may be tempted to ignore.

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