In compliance with Title IX, colleges and universities are responsible for resolving all complaints that involve sexual misconduct committed by/and or against students and staff. An important part of the resolution process is the investigation. It is at this where respondents will have to do some work, with the help of their advisor, to achieve a favorable outcome.
The Role of an Advisor
People bringing 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. They will also be able to identify if your rights are being protected and properly exercised.
The Title IX Process
- A complaint is filed: Schools encourage all members of its community to report all alleged instances of sexual misconduct.
- Interim measures: Once a complaint is filed, a school's main concern is to protect the complainant and the campus community from retaliative attempts. Measures like schedule changes, job rearrangements, no-contact orders and more are imposed to minimize the interactions between complainants and respondents.
- The investigation: A formal investigation conducted by an objective party will be carried out. Complainants, respondents, witnesses, and other relevant parties involved 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 last phase. It is at this stage that a determination of “responsible” or “not responsible” is made without the opportunity for a hearing.
- The hearing: At schools where Title IX charges are resolved via the hearing process, a hearing is the final opportunity for both sides to tell their account of the alleged sexual misconduct. During a hearing, a panel comprised of students and staff will listen to testimony, witness accounts, and final statements. After deliberating, they will come up with a determination.
- Sanctions: If the investigation or hearing concludes that a respondent is “responsible” for violating Title IX, a wide range of sanctions could be imposed. The severity of the sanction depends on how schools choose to handle these cases. Respondents have been sanctioned with treatment and intervention programs, the removal of scholarships, suspension, and expulsion in response to guilty determinations.
- Appeals: An appeal is a request for a school to reconsider its decision due to an error made at sometime throughout the Title IX process. Basically, if any party is dissatisfied with the outcome of an investigation or hearing, he or she may file an appeal - a whole process in and of itself.
West Virginia Title IX Advisor
If you attend a West Virginia 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 at 888-535-3686.
West Virginia 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:
- Alderson Broaddus College
- American Public University System
- Appalachian Bible College
- Bethany College
- Blue Ridge Community and Technical College
- Bluefield State College
- Bridgemont Community and Technical College
- Concord University
- Davis & Elkins College
- Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College
- Fairmont State University
- Glenville State College
- Huntington Junior College
- ITT Technical Institute Huntington
- Kanawha Valley Community and Technical College
- Marshall University
- Mountain State College
- Mountain State University
- Mountwest Community and Technical College
- New River Community and Technical College
- Ohio Valley University
- Pierpont Community and Technical College
- Potomac State College of West Virginia University
- Salem International University
- Shepherd University
- Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College
- University of Charleston
- Valley College Beckley
- Valley College Martinsburg
- Valley College Princeton
- West Liberty University
- West Virginia Business College Wheeling
- West Virginia Junior College Bridgeport
- West Virginia Junior College Charleston
- West Virginia Junior College Morgantown
- West Virginia Northern Community College
- West Virginia State University
- West Virginia University
- West Virginia University at Parkersburg
- West Virginia University Institute of Technology
- West Virginia Wesleyan College
- Wheeling Jesuit University
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 Virginia and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.