Under Title IX, colleges and universities are responsible for internally adjudicating all allegations of sexual misconduct committed by and/or against students and staff. The investigation period is one of the most important parts of the administrative Title IX resolution process schools use to determine if there has been a violation.
The Role of an Advisor
People who bring allegations (complainants) and people who respond to them (respondents) have the right to choose anyone they would like to serve as their advisor throughout the Title IX process. This right is extended because both parties will need guidance throughout this intricate and emotionally charged process. Selecting the right person to be your advisor can maximize your chances of success.
The Benefits of Choosing an Attorney as Your Title IX Advisor
Although respondents are allowed to choose anyone to be their advisor, it is critical that they consider an attorney to occupy this role. An experienced attorney will know the ins and outs of the investigation and Title IX process as a whole. They've been through the process many times, and give you insight as to what you need to do to be successful.
The Title IX Process
Although there are always important distinctions among schools, most New Jersey colleges and universities follow a similar process for addressing claims of sexual misconduct:
- A complaint is filed: Colleges strongly encourage each and every member of their community to report all instances of sexual misconduct, whether they are rumored, witnessed, or experienced. A complaint can be filed by virtually anyone, from a “victim” to school staff.
- Interim measures: once a complaint is received, the school's primary concern becomes keeping a complainant and the rest of the campus safe from retaliation. If the college deems it appropriate, interim measures may be implemented. Measures like a no-contact order, class schedule changes, housing modifications, and more are put in place to minimize the interactions between respondents and complainants.
- The investigation: A formal investigation conducted by an investigator will be carried out. Complainants, respondents, witnesses, and other relevant parties will be thoroughly interviewed for the purposes of gathering information. Based on the facts, the investigator(s) will come up with a finding. At some schools, the sexual misconduct investigative process is the final step because they provide a determination of responsibility without the opportunity for a hearing on the matter.
- The hearing: At schools where a hearing is required to resolve Title IX charges, this is the last opportunity for both sides to tell their side of the story. A panel will listen to testimony, witness accounts, and final statements. After deliberating, the panel will come up with a determination and recommended sanctions.
- Sanctioning: If the investigation or hearing panel concludes that a respondent is “responsible” for violating Title IX, sanctions like treatment, an intervention program, the removal of scholarships, suspension, or expulsion may be imposed upon respondents.
- Appeals: An appeal is a request for a school to reconsider its decision on the basis of reasonable grounds. Basically, if any party is dissatisfied with the outcome of an investigation or recommended sanction, he or she may file an appeal, which is a whole process in and of itself.
New Jersey Title IX Advisor
If you attend a New Jersey 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 the investigation and the entire Title IX process. Contact him today at 888-535-3686.
New Jersey 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:
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 New Jersey and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.