Colleges and universities are responsible for adjudicating all complaints of sexual misconduct committed by and/or against students and staff under Title IX. A vital part of the resolution process is the investigation. Many higher education institutions use the investigative process to determine whether Title IX policy or school has been violated.
The Role of an Advisor
People bringing forth allegations (complainants) and individuals responding to allegations (respondents) are afforded the right to choose a person to serve as their advisor throughout the entire Title IX process. Both sides will need guidance when navigating the complex Title IX process. Choosing the right advisor can alleviate many of the issues that could potentially arise in these circumstances.
The Benefits of Choosing an Attorney as Your Title IX Advisor
It is critical that respondents consider selecting an attorney advisor. An experienced attorney will understand the ins and outs of the process and truly understand where they fit in this process. They will also be able to identify if your rights are being protected and properly exercised.
The Title IX Process
Here's a general overview of how the process usually goes in Maryland schools:
- A complaint is filed: Higher education institutions encourage all members of its community to report all rumored, witnessed, or experienced instances of alleged sexual misconduct. This means that virtually anyone can file a complaint, from a “victim to a spectator, to mandatory reporters like school staff.
- Interim measures: Once a complaint is filed, a school's main concern becomes protecting the complainant and the campus community from retaliation. In some circumstances, the college may think its necessary to impose interim measures. Measures like housing arrangements, schedule changes, job rearrangements and more are imposed to minimize the contact between complainants and other involved parties.
- The investigation: A formal investigation conducted by an objective party will be carried out. Complainants, respondents, witnesses, and other relevant parties in the case will be interviewed for purposes of gathering information. Based on the facts, the investigator(s) will come up with a finding. At many schools, the Title IX investigative process is the final phase. In these cases, a determination of “responsible” or “not responsible” is made without the opportunity for a hearing on the matter.
- The hearing: At schools where Title IX charges resolved via the hearing process, this is the last opportunity for both sides to tell their account of the alleged sexual misconduct. A panel will listen to testimony, witness accounts, and final statements. After deliberating, they will come up with a determination.
- Sanctions: If the investigation or hearing decides that a respondent is “responsible” for violating Title IX, sanctions will be imposed. The range of severity of these sanctions depends on how schools choose to handle these cases, but respondents have been sanctioned with treatment and intervention programs, the removal of scholarships, suspension, or expulsion are 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.
Maryland Title IX Advisor
If you attend a Maryland 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.
Maryland 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:
- Bowie State University
- Capitol Technology University
- Coppin State University
- Frostburg State University
- Goucher College
- Hood College
- Johns Hopkins University
- Loyola University Maryland
- Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA)
- Maryland University of Integrative Health
- McDaniel College
- Morgan State University
- Mount St. Mary's University
- Notre Dame of Maryland University
- St. John's College
- St. Mary's College of Maryland
- Salisbury University
- Stevenson University
- Towson University
- United States Naval Academy (exempt from Title IX and the Clery Act)
- University of Baltimore
- University of Maryland, Baltimore
- University of Maryland, Baltimore County
- University of Maryland, College Park
- University of Maryland, Eastern Shore
- University of Maryland, University College
- University of Maryland, Biotechnology Institute
- University of Maryland, Environmental Science
- USM Hagerstown
- Universities at Shady Grove
- Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (exempt from Title IX and the Clery Act)
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 Maryland and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.