Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination “on the basis of sex” within federally funded higher education institutions. Sexual misconduct in all of its forms - sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence etc. - is regarded as sex discrimination by the law. Therefore, any actions that constitute sexual misconduct are a violation of Title IX. In compliance with this law, colleges and universities must adjudicate all alleged instances of sexual misconduct committed by/and or against students.
Schools use the Title IX resolution process to determine if actions detailed in a complaint are a violation of Title IX. One of the most important parts of this process is the investigation period. During this period and throughout the entire process, you'll need the assistance of an outside party, known as an advisor, to help you get through this process.
The Role of an Advisor
People who bring allegations (complainants) and people who respond to said allegations (respondents) are afforded the right to choose anyone they would like to serve as their advisor. The Department of Education thought it necessary to extend this right because it is understood that complainants and respondents will undoubtedly need all assistance they can get through this intricate and emotionally charged process. Students must realize that choosing the right person to be your advisor makes all the difference in achieving an equitable and favorable case outcome.
The Benefits of Choosing an Attorney as Your Advisor
Although respondents are given wide discretion as to who they can choose to serve as their advisor, it is important that they consider choosing an attorney to occupy this role. An experienced attorney advisor has likely been through the Title IX resolution process many times and understands what it takes to protect your rights and ensure they are properly exercised.
The Title IX Process
Here's a general overview of the Title IX process in federally funded Maine institutions:
- A complaint is filed: Schools encourage each member of the campus community to report any instances of rumored, witnessed, and experienced sexual misconduct.
- Interim measures: If deemed necessary, schools may impose measures like a no-contact order, housing reassignments, schedule changes and more against a respondent to minimize their contact with complainants and other involved parties throughout the process.
- The investigation: A formal investigation will be conducted by a sole investigator or a hired firm. At some schools, the process ends here. In these circumstances, a determination is made by an investigator and if responsible, a respondent will be sanctioned.
- The hearing: In schools where Title IX allegations are mitigated via the hearing process, a hearing is the final opportunity for both sides to share their account of the incident. Depending on the school pursuing the claims, a panel comprised of students and staff will listen to testimony, statements, and presented evidence to make a determination.
- Sanctions: If the investigation or hearing panel determines a respondent is “responsible” for violating Title, a wide range of potential sanctions may be imposed. Sanctions like treatments, orders to attend an intervention program, the removal of scholarships, suspension, and expulsion have been imposed upon guilty respondents.
- Appeals: An appeal is a request for schools to reconsider its decision due to an error made at some point during the process. If any party feels dissatisfied with a final decision, he or she may file an appeal.
Maine Title IX Advisor
If you attend a Maine college or university and are facing sexual misconduct allegations, it is crucial you contact an attorney. For students who haven't been through this process before, it can be confusing and scary. Preparation is the key to favorable results. Skilled legal professional Joseph D. Lento has extensive experience preparing respondents for an investigation and the entire Title IX process. Contact him today for help.
Maine colleges and universities where Joseph D. Lento can help as your or your student's Title IX advisor during investigations (in addition to hearings and appeals) include, but are not limited to, the following schools:
- Bates College
- Bowdoin College
- Central Maine Community College
- Central Maine Medical Center College of Nursing and Health Professions
- Colby College
- College of the Atlantic
- Eastern Maine Community College
- Husson University
- Kaplan University Maine Campus
- Kennebec Valley Community College
- Landing School of Boat Building and Design
- Maine College of Art
- Maine Maritime Academy
- New England School of Communications
- Northern Maine Community College
- Saint Joseph's College of Maine
- Southern Maine Community College
- Thomas College
- Unity College
- University of Maine
- University of Maine at Augusta
- University of Maine at Farmington
- University of Maine at Fort Kent
- University of Maine at Machias
- University of Maine at Presque Isle
- University of New England
- University of Southern Maine
- Washington County Community College
- York County Community College
It is critical to make certain the Title IX investigation at your college or university is handled properly and that the accused student's or employee's interests are protected from as early as possible during the sexual misconduct investigative process. One major reason is because even at schools where a finding of responsibility for sexual misconduct charges is made at a hearing, the investigation will set the stage for what the hearing panel is provided prior to a hearing (and what the hearing panel will in large part rely on at a hearing), and at schools where the finding of responsibility is made solely through the investigative process, what takes place during the investigation itself will determine whether the accused is found responsible or not responsible for Title IX charges.
Unfortunately, some students, families, and college employees make the mistake of not taking the necessary precautions as soon as possible when accused of sexual misconduct. Some people will mistakenly believe that if they "just explain what happened," their school will be fair and impartial and will arrive at the truth. In a perfect world this may be the case, but in a perfect world, sexual misconduct and Title IX charges would not exist.
Fighting passionately for the future of his clients at universities and colleges throughout the nation for a decade, Joseph D. Lento knows how important it is to mount the strongest defense because he understands that an accused's academic and professional future is on the line. 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 sexual misconduct investigations and disciplinary cases in Maine and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.