Title IX is a federal law that prohibits gender-based discrimination within federally funded higher education institutions. Sexual misconduct in any of its forms - sexual assault, sexual harassment, dating violence etc. - is legally regarded as gender discrimination. Therefore, any actions that constitute sexual misconduct will be considered a violation of Title IX. In compliance with this federal law, colleges and universities must internally adjudicate all alleged instances of sexual misconduct committed by and/or against students.
The Title IX process is used by administrations to determine potential violations. One of the most important phases of this process is the investigation period. During this period and throughout the entire process, students will need the assistance of an outside party, known as an advisor, to navigate the 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 be their advisor. This right is extended because both complainants and respondents will need guidance through this intricate, confusing, and stressful process. Choosing the right person to be your advisor is the key to an equitable process and a favorable result.
The Benefits of Choosing an Attorney as Your Advisor
Respondents are given wide discretion with little limitations as to who they can choose to be their advisor. It's critical that respondents choose an attorney to occupy this role. An experienced attorney is invaluable in this process. They have been through the process many times, and understand what respondents must do to adequately prepare for an investigation or hearing. They can also ensure that a respondent's rights are protected and properly exercised.
The Title IX Process
The following is a general overview of the Title IX process in federally funded Washington DC higher institutions:
- A complaint is filed: higher education institutions encourage all members of the campus community to report any witnessed, rumored, or experienced instances of alleged sexual misconduct.
- Interim measures: If deemed appropriate, a school may implement interim measures to minimize the interactions between respondents and all other involved parties. Measures like a no-contact order, housing rearrangements, class schedule changes, and even restriction from certain parts of campus may be imposed upon a respondent.
- The investigation: A formal investigation will be conducted by the school. During this period, all involved parties will be thoroughly interviewed for the purposes of collecting information.
- The hearing: In schools where Title IX charges are resolved via hearing, this hearing is the final opportunity for both parties to share their account of the alleged incident. A panel will factor in what they head during testimonies, statements, and evidence to deliberate and come up with a determination.
- Sanctions: If an investigator or hearing panel determines a respondent is indeed “responsible” for violating Title IX and committing sexual misconduct, a wide range of potential sanctions may be imposed in response. Sanctions like treatment, orders to attend an intervention program, the removal of scholarships, suspension, and expulsion have been imposed upon respondents in these cases.
- Appeals: An appeal is a request for a school to reconsider its decision based on an error made at some point during the Title IX process. If any party is dissatisfied with the outcome of an investigation finding, or panel determination, they may file an appeal - which is a process in and of itself.
Washington DC Title IX Advisor
If you attend a Washington DC 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.
Washington DC 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:
- American University
- Catholic University of America
- Corcoran College of Art and Design
- Gallaudet University
- George Washington University
- Georgetown University
- Howard University
- Potomac College Washington
- Trinity Washington University
- University of the District of Columbia
- University of Phoenix - Washington DC Campus
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 Washington DC and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.