If you're facing a Title IX sexual misconduct allegation, you're probably feeling a lot of complicated emotions right now. Someone you were close to and maybe even loved has betrayed you. You're hurt, angry, probably scared. You don't know what's going to happen next.
Take a deep breath and exhale. You don't have to handle this situation alone.
In fact, you shouldn't try to handle this situation alone. Title IX is a complicated law and defending yourself won't be an easy matter. High schools and universities typically do everything they can to support accusers, even if that means denying the accused some important due process rights. You need professional help from an expert in the law. You need a Title IX attorney.
Title IX Rules and Procedures
Title IX is a federal law originally passed in 1972, intended to eliminate sexual discrimination in the US educational system. Almost from the moment it was passed, Title IX has been the subject of fierce contention among Washington politicians. As a result, the procedures can be tricky, and the rules are subject to change with little notice.
Here's what the current guidelines say:
- Your school must have a designated Title IX Coordinator. Anyone at your school may report you for sexual misconduct. In fact, at some schools, faculty and staff are required to report any knowledge of sexual misconduct they may have. However, only a Coordinator or a complainant (the alleged victim) can sign an official complaint against you.
- If you are being investigated, you have some important due process rights. First, you have the right to notice of the charges, including details about the allegation and the name of the complainant. You also have the right to be presumed “not responsible” (innocent), the right to an advisor, and the right to review all evidence against you.
- Next, the Coordinator must appoint an Investigator. This person will separately interview both you and the complainant to get your side of the story. Your advisor should be able to accompany you to this meeting, though they may not be able to speak on your behalf.
- The Investigator will also collect any physical evidence and identify potential witnesses.
- At the conclusion of the investigation, the Investigator will complete a written summary of the case. Both you and the complainant will have a chance to review this document and suggest revisions. It will then be forwarded to the Coordinator.
- If you are a college student, you are entitled to defend yourself at a live hearing. The Coordinator will set the time and date for this hearing and appoint one or more decision-makers to oversee the proceedings. Title IX does not require high schools to hold hearings. Some do. Others appoint a single decision-maker to meet further with both sides and then render a final decision.
- At the hearing, you can introduce evidence and call witnesses. You can also cross-examine the complainant and any witnesses. Likewise, the complaint can cross-examine you and your witnesses. Only advisors, however, may ask the questions.
- Decision-makers use a legal standard known as “preponderance of evidence” in coming up with their verdict. Less strict than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” “preponderance of evidence” requires decision-makers to find you responsible if they are more than fifty percent convinced you committed an offense.
- You have the right to appeal the decision maker's findings, though only under certain very specific circumstances such as the discovery of new evidence or an allegation of procedural misconduct. The complainant has the right to appeal as well.
If you've been reading carefully, you probably realize why you need an attorney and, in particular, a Title IX attorney. And this is only a brief summary of the rules. The actual government guidelines run to some 554 pages. Only someone who has studied the law and has experience defending clients will know all there is to know about it and how to use its many provisions to your advantage.
Choosing an Advisor
You will be tempted to choose a family or local attorney as your Title IX advisor. After all, they're right down the street. They know the quirks of the local justice system. They may even know you.
Here's why that's a bad idea:
- Title IX is a federal law with many complex rules. It provides important due process protections, but only someone who has studied the law will know how to use these to your advantage.
- You won't be tried in a court of law. Instead, your hearing will probably take place in some campus seminar room. You won't appear before a judge and jury. Instead, some combination of faculty, administrators, and students will decide your case. Your advisor needs to be just as comfortable in front of a campus hearing as they are in a court of law.
- Title IX cases involve unique concepts like “consent” and “preponderance of evidence.” Title IX attorneys understand the issues that surround these concepts and have the know-how to craft a defense strategy that takes them into account.
Local attorneys are, of course, local. Keep in mind, though, that your advisor doesn't have to be from your community or even your state. What you want is the most knowledgeable, experienced attorney, not the closest one.
The best way to know if an attorney is qualified is to ask three simple questions:
- How many Title IX cases have they dealt with?
- What is their success rate with Title IX cases?
- What specific strategies would they use to handle your case?
The right attorney will have the right answers to all three.
Joseph D. Lento can Help with Your Title IX Case
Joseph D. Lento is a defense attorney who built his career on Title IX cases. He's represented hundreds of student clients, defending them from all kinds of charges, from online harassment to stalking to date rape. Joseph D. Lento is a tough-as-nails litigator who knows the law and understands how schools operate. Don't let your school treat you unfairly. Joseph D. Lento will protect your rights and get you the justice you deserve.
If you or your child have been accused of Title IX sexual misconduct in Alaska, don't try to handle it yourself. Contact the Lento Law Firm's Alaska office to find out how we can help. Call 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.
Alaska colleges and universities where Joseph D. Lento can help as your or your student's Title IX advisor during investigations, hearings, and appeals include, but are not limited to, the following schools:
- Alaska Bible College
- Alaska Pacific University
- Charter College Anchorage
- Ilisagvik College
- Prince William Sound Community College
- University of Alaska Anchorage
- University of Alaska Fairbanks
- University of Alaska Southeast
Title IX violations and Title IX charges can change an accused student's life if not defended against properly and as early as possible during the disciplinary process, and Joseph D. Lento has nearly a decade of experience passionately fighting for the future of his clients at universities and colleges throughout the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead, prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph Lento is a licensed attorney in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, is admitted as an attorney pro hac vice in state and federal court if needed when representing clients nationwide, and serves as a Title IX advisor and educational consultant to students facing disciplinary cases in Alaska and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.