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University of Maryland beefing up sexual assault investigations

Not every young adult has an easy transition going from high school to college. High school students are juveniles who are given much latitude when it comes to their actions, and have their parents present to lean on when things go south. College students are legally adults and must take full responsibility for mistakes.

This transition can result in many problems between not only other college students, but between college students and authority figures. One of the most serious issues that arises frequently on college campuses are those surrounding sexual assault allegations.

While suffering such an assault is devastating, so is being accused - especially if the accusation is false or the series of events are being exaggerated.

False allegations happen

It is assumed by many that sexual assault is something that people generally don't lie about. This should be true, it isn't.

False allegations can happen for a number of reasons. A couple may have an unrelated dispute, and the accuser may be attempting to seek revenge on the other person. It is also possible for someone to simply misinterpret signals they have received.

When college campuses and police departments in college towns have limited resources to fully investigate an accusation, it is likely that disciplinary action will be pursued against the alleged perpetrator without allowing that person to fully tell their side of the story.

False allegations, even when disproved, are still disruptive

Even if there is not enough evidence to press criminal charges, a sexual assault accusation alone can still wreck havoc. Suspension, expulsion and adverse marks on a person's education record interfere with a student's academics and life.

In addition to false allegations being traumatizing and damaging to their reputation and educational opportunities of the person accused, it also takes its toll of the college or university who is responsible for the investigation. It is the kind of case normally handled by a university's Title IX office, which takes care of a variety of discrimination issues.

The cost of investigations being transferred to the student body

At the University of Maryland, the budget has been $1 million annually for Title IX, which has always been paid by the university. Recently, student government took it upon themselves to impose a fee of $34 a year - to be paid by the student body - that would nearly double that budget, if the University president approves the proposal.

This increase in budget will go a long way in enabling the Title IX office to conduct full investigations into sexual assault allegations.

If you've been accused of sexual assault or other misconduct, it's important to get past the incident so that you can move forward with your life. A skilled criminal defense lawyer can listen to your version of events and provide you with the strong representation you need.

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