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Connecticut sexual harassment defense lawyerIn 1972, the federal government of the United States passed what is known as the Educational Amendments Act, and one of the key provisions of this act is Title IX. This Act was quintessential in changing the landscape surrounding sexual misconduct in higher education in America. Title IX is a law that protects students from being discriminated against based on their sex when they are involved in educational programs that receive federal funding. Recently, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced a few new rules that will be included in Title IX, and these could potentially affect cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct at colleges and universities.

What Is Title IX?

Title IX is known for prohibiting discrimination based on sex. Specifically, Title IX states that no student is permitted to, “be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination…” solely based on their sex. Title IX applies to more than 16,500 local school districts and 7,000 colleges nationwide, in addition to various charter schools, libraries, and museums. Title IX is also known for prohibiting and punishing sexual harassment, which is considered a form of sex discrimination.

Changes to Title IX

Recently, some major changes to Title IX have been announced, and these will go into effect in August 2020. One of those changes includes moving away from the single-investigator model. Rather than having one person investigate an accusation of misconduct, decide what evidence to use, and produce a report recommending an outcome, the final decision-maker for a case must be a different person than the investigator.

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Connecticut sex crime attorney character witnessesSince the beginnings of the “Me Too” movement, a great deal of emphasis has been placed on the issues surrounding sexual violence. Several high-profile cases have taken place in the past couple of years, including the Brock Turner case, in which a college student was convicted of three counts of sexual assault and sentenced to only six months in jail. Another more recent case is that of Harvey Weinstein, the media mogul who was convicted of two counts of sex crimes after years of allegations and trials. Weinstein’s case was of interest to the criminal justice community in particular for the choice of witnesses permitted to testify during the trial.

Sexual Assault Cases Often Involve “Prior Bad Acts” Witnesses

It is not uncommon for trials involving allegations of sexual misconduct to allow character witnesses to testify about the defendant’s past behavior. These “prior bad acts” witnesses may allege that the defendant committed previous acts of sexual misconduct, even if there were never any charges or convictions pursued for the supposed acts. In two recent high-profile cases, prior bad acts witnesses were involved. In the Weinstein case, three additional witnesses were permitted to testify against Weinstein, even though charges were never pursued for the misconduct the witnesses alleged. In another case involving actor Bill Cosby, five women testified against him, and none of these witnesses’ allegations resulted in criminal charges. It has been speculated that these witnesses played a significant role in the defendants’ convictions.

Implications of Allowing These Types of Witnesses

The fact that most courts allow prior bad acts witnesses is something of concern in the criminal justice community. This practice allows prosecutors to solicit testimony from alleged victims in cases where a defendant was never charged with a crime or found guilty, including in cases where prosecutors deemed that the defendant’s alleged actions were not substantial enough to warrant criminal prosecution. In some cases, witnesses may even testify about alleged incidents that were never reported to police or doctors. Because of this, many criminal defense attorneys have called the legitimacy of prior bad acts witnesses into question and argued against the use of this type of evidence.

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Hartford sex crime defense attorney

In the wake of the viral “Me Too” movement that swept across social media in recent years, many state and local jurisdictions have taken a second look at their current sexual assault laws to determine whether changes should be made. Connecticut is the latest state to pass legislation concerning sexual misconduct laws. The Connecticut legislature recently voted to pass a bill that would make a number of changes to state law, including extending the statute of limitations for prosecuting sexual assault charges.

Disagreement Among House Members

Though the bill passed unanimously in the Senate, the vote in the House was not as one-sided. The bill passed by a vote of 121-23, with those 23 naysayers expressing worries about the changes to the law. One member suggested that a person’s memories are not always accurate as time goes on, and a longer statute of limitations could mean that a person may be accused of sex crimes based on untrustworthy testimony. Another member was concerned with the bill’s possible interference with the constitutional right to a fair and speedy trial. Proponents of the bill have stated that lengthening the statute of limitations helps the victims but does not detract from the rights of the accused, because the burden of proof will remain the same.

Current Laws on Statute of Limitations

Under Connecticut’s current laws, the statute of limitations in cases concerning sexual misconduct vary depending on a couple of different factors. Class A felonies have no statute of limitations -- they can be prosecuted at any time. These crimes include first degree sexual assault when force or the threat of force is used and the victim is under the age of 16, first degree sexual assault when the victim is under the age of 13 and the perpetrator is more than two years older than the victim, first degree aggravated sexual assault when a victim is under the age of 16, and aggravated sexual assault of a minor. Sexual assault or abuse cases that are not Class A felonies typically have a five-year statute of limitations, while misdemeanor cases typically have a one-year statute of limitations.

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Hartford sexual assault charges defense attorneyMost people understand that forcing someone to have sex with them when they clearly do not want to is wrong. This crime is called sexual assault or rape, and it is addressed in each state’s laws, though the definitions, situations, and punishments for sexual assault differ from state to state. A fairly new issue in the laws concerning sexual misconduct is the idea of “rape by fraud.” This idea may sound far-fetched, but it has happened before -- and more than once.

A Case of Sexual Deceit

In 2017, a Purdue college student fell asleep in her boyfriend’s dorm and was woken up by a person she thought was him who prompted sex from her. She soon realized that the person was not her boyfriend, but was, in fact, one of her boyfriend’s friends who had sex with her, knowing that she thought he was her boyfriend. The woman went to the police and pressed charges of sexual assault. The imposter was arrested and charged with two counts of rape, which carried a sentence of 3 to 16 years in prison. However, the state of Indiana does not specifically have laws pertaining to “rape by fraud,” and the alleged perpetrator ended up being acquitted of the charges and having his criminal record expunged.

The Issue With Consent

One of the biggest issues that can complicate cases involving sexual deceit is the fact that consent is rarely defined in sexual assault laws. Most states do not have an explicit definition of what constitutes consent, including Connecticut. The states that do have definitions for consent will typically describe it as positive cooperation in act or attitude where a person exercises their free will and has knowledge of the act that is happening. Without an explicit definition, consent is often a gray area. A person may be interpreted as having given consent in a wide variety of circumstances, ranging from a lack of physical struggle to explicit positive affirmation.

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Hartford sexual assault defense attorney minor victimSex crimes are some of the most serious and harshly punished crimes there are. Even just being accused of a sex crime can have a negative and long-lasting impact on your life. The state of Connecticut does not take kindly to those who are convicted of being a sex offender, and consequences can be even more severe for those who are convicted of a sex offense involving a minor child. If you are convicted of a sex crime in Connecticut, you could a face long prison sentence, extremely expensive fines, and the requirement to register as a sex offender.

Types of Sex Offenses Upon a Minor

In Connecticut, sex offenses are broken down into degrees. Though all sex offenses are extremely serious, first-degree sexual assault is the most harshly punished, and fourth-degree sexual assault is one of the lesser offenses. When it comes to sexual offenses involving victims who are minors, the same laws apply as if the victim was an adult, but the charges automatically become much more serious, and the consequences become more harsh.

In Connecticut, a minor is defined as a person under the age of 16. However, if the alleged perpetrator of sexual assault is in a supervisory position over the alleged victim, such as a coach or teacher, they can be charged with sexual assault of a minor, even if the alleged victim is 18 years old. In addition, anyone charged with Sexual Assault of a Minor will automatically be charged with Risk of Injury to a Minor under Connecticut General Statute 53-21.

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