Title IX is a federal law enacted in the 1970s designed to prevent schools that receive federal funding from discriminating on the basis of sex. The U.S. Department of Education provides that Title IX additionally prohibits sex-based harassment, noting that “harassers can be students, school staff, or even someone visiting the school, such as a student or employee from another school.”
The types of sex-based harassment are:
- Sexual harassment
- Sexual violence
- Gender-based harassment
Although sex-based harassment does happen in schools, there is a concern that it can be too easy for individuals to make false claims against students under Title IX. Regardless, once a school is notified of a Title IX violation, it must, by law, investigate the claim. In some circumstances, a preliminary investigation will show that the allegation is completely unfounded; however, academic institutions are eager to avoid liability in these claims. A school will often put its own interests before that of the student being falsely accused.
Standard of Proof in Title IX Investigations
When your school receives a report of sexual misconduct, it will initiate an investigation. Although Title IX is a federal law, the standard of proof used in determining the validity of the claim is left largely up to the school itself.
The term “standard of proof” means the degree of evidence needed to establish whether someone is guilty of the offense. In criminal court cases, for example, the standard of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” You might think that the same standard of proof would be applied in a Title IX proceeding, but it's actually not. Instead, schools often use either the standard of a “preponderance of the evidence” or the standard of “clear and convincing evidence.”
While these standards can be confusing, the important thing to understand is that those defending a Title IX accusation are not given the same protections as defendants in criminal court. If an individual has falsely accused you of sexual violence, you need to hire an attorney who understands the nuance required in building a solid Title IX defense. Mr. Lento has years of experience helping students and their parents navigate these investigations, and he absolutely understands how severely false accusations can affect the accused and their families.
False Accusations of Title IX Violations
Discussing false accusations may feel almost taboo in the age of the Me Too movement, but the fact is that they happen, and when they do, you deserve to defend yourself. In the case of a young man attending Coker College in South Carolina, the school went so far as to expel him until his accuser ultimately admitted that the claims were made up. The revelation came only after the accuser failed a polygraph test, and by then, a considerable amount of harm had already been done.
Assuredly, it was a relief to have the false accusations of sexual misconduct withdrawn, the young man still lost valuable time in class, and as a member of the college's soccer team, he missed out on team practices. In addition, the falsely accused student had to face the judgment and stress that comes with such serious allegations.
Even when your accuser recants their statement, life doesn't just go back to normal. The ordeal is understandably overwhelming, and Joseph D. Lento knows that you don't just need an advocate—you need an attorney who will be in the trenches with you.
Defending False Accusations of Sexual Misconduct
When you're accused of a Title IX sexual misconduct violation, your school will give you a notice of the preliminary investigation. This is the time to contact an experienced Title IX student defense attorney. Your school may tell you that Title IX investigations aren't criminal proceedings. While this is true, you do still need an experienced attorney to advocate on your behalf.
An experienced attorney will be up-to-date on nuanced Title IX rules that frequently change. The attorney will also understand when and how to communicate with the school's investigative personnel. Perhaps the most important role of a Title IX attorney is that of an advocate. Joseph D. Lento knows that schools sometimes put their interests above yours, and you need an attorney who will ensure your due process rights are protected.
False Allegations Leave a Lasting Emotional Impact
If you've been falsely accused of sexual harassment or assault, you need to understand the weight of the accusations leveled against you. False accusations are serious and come with critical consequences. Unfortunately, many claims are unfounded or are the result of a mistake or misunderstanding. Recovering from the emotional or psychological harm brought on by false sexual assault allegations can take years to recover from and may require help from mental health professionals.
When you're falsely accused, you might be left wringing your hands—feeling unable to defend your own reputation for fear you'll be called out for victim-blaming. On the one hand, you don't want to create a backlash, but you also don't want to give the appearance of acquiescence by staying silent. The stress of this scenario often results in severe anxiety. You're not alone in this stress. There is growing concern about the impacts of false sexual misconduct accusations.
Even when you're cleared of wrongdoing, you may still have a difficult road ahead. It's likely that you've missed class and perhaps work. Even when recanted, classmates and the general public may be hesitant to believe you are innocent of wrongdoing. The result of ongoing stigma can affect you and even your family, particularly if you live in a close-knit community.
You Need an Attorney if You're Falsely Accused of Sexual Misconduct
The impacts of false sexual misconduct accusations can be truly devastating when they occur and long after you've been vindicated. If you've been accused, you shouldn't hesitate to contact an experienced Title IX student sexual misconduct attorney. The Lento Law Firm has defended hundreds of students in Title IX investigations, and attorney Joseph D. Lento knows how best to mitigate the damages associated with false accusations while rigorously working as your advocate. To learn more today, call 888-535-3686.