Defamation Liability for Testimony in a Title IX Proceeding – Part 2

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Apr 11, 2022 | 0 Comments

No question that a lying accuser's false allegations of Title IX sexual misconduct can cause the accused student substantial reputational and other harm. How, though, could the accused student recover money damages from the accuser for that harm? The law of defamation generally permits the person harmed by another's false, reputation-lowering statements to recover money damages in a civil court action for that harm. Could defamation liability make a lying Title IX misconduct accuser pay for the accused student's unfair harm?

Uncertain Defamation Law

The prior post showed that the law of defamation is not always clear when an accuser exaggerates and lies during the course of a college or university Title IX proceeding. The case of Khan v Yale University provided the example where the federal court had to ask the state supreme court to rule whether a lying accuser has absolute immunity for statements made unfairly harming the accused student in a private school's Title IX proceeding. Time will tell the nature of that ruling. Some states extend absolute immunity to quasi-judicial proceedings, which might, in theory, include school Title IX proceedings. The answer depends on how state courts apply a list of factors on the proceeding's nature. If absolute immunity does not apply, where the law protects even deliberate lies, then states may offer qualified immunity, where the law protects falsehoods made innocently in good faith. Khan v Yale University asked the state supreme court to answer that question, too.

Reliable Liability Theories

But even if a state extends absolute or qualified immunity to an accuser telling falsehoods in a college or university Title IX proceeding, the accused student may, in some cases, still have a defamation remedy for the reputational and other harm. Absolute or qualified immunity applies only to statements made within the proceeding. Just because an accuser may have immunity to make false statements to Title IX investigators and hearing officers doesn't mean the accuser can spread lies around outside the proceeding. Accusers may commonly share accusations not just with Title IX coordinators, investigators, and officials but also with students, professors, and school staff who have no role in the Title IX proceeding. Accusers may also spread lies around online. Defamation liability could make a lying accuser pay for those broader lies, even if not for lies told within the Title IX proceeding. Other laws, rules, and school policies may also hold the lying accuser responsible for the lies, disciplining the lying accuser rather than the falsely accused.

Premier college misconduct defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are available both to defend college or university Title IX or other misconduct charges and to evaluate your rights to recover monetarily for the harm caused by an accuser's lies. Don't let a vindictive or vengeful lying accuser destroy your reputation and career. Get national Title IX defense attorney help. Call 888-535-3686 or go online now.

About the Author

Joseph D. Lento

"I pride myself on having heart and driving hard to get results!" Attorney Joseph D. Lento passionately fights for the futures of his clients nationwide. Attorney Lento and his team represent students and others in disciplinary cases and various other proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States. Attorney Lento has helped countless students, professors, and others in academia at more than a thousand colleges and universities across the United States, and when necessary, he and his team have sought justice on behalf of clients in courts across the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph D. Lento is licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted pro hac vice as needed nationwide, and he can help you or your student address any school-related issue or concern anywhere in the United States.


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Contact Us Today!


If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations - the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Allegheny, Berks, Bucks, Carbon, Chester, Dauphin, Delaware, Lancaster, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton, Schuylkill, and York County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.