Don’t Speak to Title IX Officials Without an Attorney-Advisor

The Wrong Instinct. College or university students accused of Title IX sexual misconduct often have the instinct and urge to promptly speak with the school officials who brought those charges, speak with school investigators assigned to gather evidence of what happened, or even speak with campus or local police to whom school officials report the misconduct. As common as that instinct is, to speak early, often, and openly about Title IX sexual misconduct charges, the instinct is wrong. Speaking with school officials before consulting a Title IX defense attorney can be hazardous to your legitimate, firm, fair, and deserved defense of false or exaggerated Title IX charges. In this instance, don't trust your instinct. Instead, listen first to wise and experienced Title IX counsel.

Conflicting Interests. Accused students often have the urge to speak with Title IX officials before consulting a Title IX defense attorney because of wrong assumptions accused students make about those officials. Students often assume that Title IX officials are skilled, fair, balanced, neutral, independent, and interested in getting at the truth while protecting the accused student's welfare. Those are wrong assumptions. Title IX officials are instead often unskilled, biased, and conflicted by duties and interests directly opposed to the accused student's interests.

Duties to Accusers and Victims. Title IX regulations, for instance, require a school's Title IX officials to protect accusers and purported victims. That duty means that Title IX officials have the power, and in many cases, the duty, to restrict and suspend accused students and remove them from the campus. When an unprepared and ill-informed accused student speaks with a Title IX official, the student's incomplete, uncertain, and speculative statements may hasten restrictions and suspensions.

Unreliability of Uninformed Statements. When an accused student speaks with Title IX officials early in a Title IX proceeding, before consulting with a Title IX defense attorney, the accused student is probably sharing uninformed, speculative, and incomplete information. The standard advice of an experienced Title IX defense attorney is that the accused student should meet, speak, and share information with Title IX officials, and answer their questions, only after the accused student has received and reviewed the school's evidence, if any, supporting the Title IX charges. Some Title IX proceedings are fishing expeditions. The Title IX proceeding may have begun on questionable allegations for which the school has no credible evidence. A Title IX official's fishing questions and fabricated assertions, though, may cause the accused student to wrongly assume false facts and nonexistent evidence. Accused students whom a Title IX defense attorney has not educated and prepared may thus ineptly admit to things that they don't know and aren't true.

Statements Without Foundation. Students, like other laypersons in familiar settings, have a natural, informal conversational, and conjectural communication style. Students don't generally have education, training, and skill in the formal, fact-based, rigorous communication style that adversarial Title IX proceedings demand. When an accused student speaks with Title IX officials before consulting with a Title IX defense attorney, the student is likely at times to guess, conjecture, and speculate about facts and circumstances that the student doesn't actually know. Those guesses, often inaccurate, wrong, or exaggerated, can come back to haunt an accused student. They can also contradict actual facts and better-informed things that the accused student later relates after having learned the circumstances. Changes of that kind in the accused student's story can undercut the student's credibility, even making the student look like a liar.

Rights and Privileges. Another reason why a student accused of Title IX misconduct should not speak with school Title IX officials or campus or local police without first consulting a Title IX defense attorney is that the student has protective rights and privileges. Some forms of Title IX misconduct, like sexual assault and stalking, are criminal in nature. Students accused of Title IX sexual misconduct must be careful not to implicate themselves in serious crimes. Individuals suspected of crimes have a Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. Under Supreme Court case law, an accused student has the right to remain silent even in a school Title IX administrative proceeding, not just in a criminal case in court. In other cases, other Supreme Court case law permits an administrative body to infer that the accused student's refusal to testify means the student is guilty as charged. But Title IX regulations currently confirm that accused students hold the privilege against self-incrimination while also protecting the accused student against adverse inferences from silence. Accused students hold other privacy and confidentiality rights under HIPAA, FERPA, and other laws. Consulting with a Title IX defense attorney before speaking with Title IX officials enables the accused student to preserve and rely on those rights.

Taking The Right Step. For all of the above reasons, and for many other reasons, students accused of Title IX misconduct should not speak with school or other officials about those misconduct charges without first consulting a Title IX defense attorney. Students accused of Title IX misconduct have far too much at stake to begin the defense of their Title IX proceeding with a gross misstep. Consulting with a Title IX defense attorney ensures that the accused student, before speaking with Title IX officials, will:

  • know the details of the school's Title IX charges
  • know the school's evidence of Title IX misconduct
  • speak only with qualified, neutral, and independent Title IX officials
  • speak only with officials who reliably record and report statements
  • speak only once rather than multiple times, creating a conflicting record
  • speak only factually as to matters the student knows to be true
  • avoid damaging guess, conjecture, and speculation
  • preserve privacy and confidentiality rights and privileges

Premier Title IX Sexual Misconduct Defense Attorney Available. Don't wonder whether a qualified, skilled, and experienced Title IX sexual misconduct defense attorney is available to you. Don't rely on a local attorney who lacks the required knowledge and skill in complex Title IX law, regulations, and procedures. Instead, consult and retain premier Title IX defense attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm. Attorney Lento has helped hundreds of college and university students nationwide successfully defend and defeat false, exaggerated, and unfair Title IX charges. Your location, school, or program do not matter. Your future matters, and Attorney Lento and the Lento Law Firm can help. Call 888.535.3686 or go online.

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If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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