Title IX is a federal civil rights law that guarantees everyone equal access to higher education, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. While admirable, Title IX requires colleges and universities in Montana to vigorously prosecute allegations of sexual misconduct, or have their federal funding stripped away.
Having a lawyer as your Title IX advisor can help to prevent your school from stripping away your rights during the investigation and hearing process.
Your Right to a Title IX Advisor During the Investigation
If you have been accused of violating Title IX in Montana, you have a right to an advisor to provide valuable insight into the upcoming process. While appointing a family member or a trusted professor to help can give you emotional support, doing so is short-sighted; hiring a lawyer instead has distinct benefits:
- Lawyers are at home in the adversarial proceedings of an investigation and the resulting hearings
- Attorneys build and present effective cases for a living
- Title IX defense lawyers have an intimate understanding of the investigation process
The Title IX Investigation Process in Montana Schools
Each and every school in Montana has its own process for investigating and determining a Title IX case. However, they all follow the same basic framework:
- They start with the complaint. All Title IX cases begin when someone files an official complaint with the school, accusing someone else of sexual misconduct in violation of Title IX.
- The school typically files no-contact orders and other interim measures. The typical response from the school is to file a no-contact order against you, the accused party in the complaint. This orders you to have no further contact with the person behind the complaint. Other interim measures can include an interim suspension, a ban from living on campus, reassignment of classes, and similar actions taken by the school against the respondent.
- An investigation begins. The school then either contracts with an independent investigator or puts its Title IX officer to the task of verifying or investigating the allegations in the complaint. This typically involves interviewing you, at some point. Many schools will determine responsibility for Title IX charges through the investigative process alone. Some schools, however, will use the investigation results to proceed to a hearing.
- A panel hears the case. At colleges and universities that use a "hearing" model, the results of the investigation are presented to a panel at a hearing. The exact procedure of this hearing, as well as who is on the panel, depends on your college.
- Sanctions are issued for a violation. If the panel determines that you violated Title IX, it will issue sanctions. These can range from a simple warning all the way up to expelling you from school.
- The possibility of an appeal. You have the right to appeal the outcome of your case if you can point to a defect in the underlying process. You can always challenge the nature or the severity of the sanctions that have been levied against you.
Joseph D. Lento: A Title IX Advisor for Montana
If you have been accused of violating Title IX in Montana, you can expect your school to come down hard on you. Having a lawyer serving as your advisor can make them think twice about violating your rights to due process and make them play fair. Reach out to Joseph D. Lento, a student discipline defense attorney, and hire him to be your Title IX advisor. Contact him online or by phone at 888-535-3686.
Montana 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:
- Blackfeet Community College
- Carroll College
- Chief Dull Knife College
- Dawson Community College
- Flathead Valley Community College
- Fort Belknap College
- Fort Peck Community College
- Little Big Horn College
- Miles Community College
- Montana State University
- Montana State University Billings
- Montana State University Great Falls College of Technology
- Montana State University Northern
- Montana Tech of the University of Montana
- Montana Tech College of Technology
- Rocky Mountain College
- Salish Kootenai College
- Stone Child College
- The University of Montana
- The University of Montana Western
- University of Great Falls
- University of Montana Helena College of Technology
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 Montana and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.