If you've been charged by your school with Title IX sexual misconduct, you're probably feeling a lot of complicated emotions right now. Often, allegations come as a complete shock. You're likely hurt by the fact that someone you know, someone you may even have loved, has turned on you. Almost certainly, you're nervous about facing an investigation.
Take a deep breath and exhale. There's help available out there. You just have to know where to look for it.
Title IX isn't a perfect law, but it does guarantee a number of important rights to accused students. One of these is the right to an advisor, someone to help you organize a defense strategy. That advisor can be—and should be—a Title IX attorney.
How Does Title IX Work?
Why would you need an attorney to deal with a school infraction? That seems like the sort of thing you could handle on your own. Worst case scenario: your parents have to get involved, right?
Here's the thing: Title IX isn't just school policy. It's a federal law with a long and complex history. The government dictates the investigative rules and procedures, and those rules and procedures can be confusing.
- Your school must have a designated Title IX Coordinator. Anyone can report you for sexual misconduct, but only the Coordinator or a complainant (accuser) can sign an official complaint against you.
- The Coordinator must notify you if you're under investigation. As part of that notification, you're entitled to know the name of your accuser and the details of the allegation.
- You have certain due process rights under Title IX. In addition to having the right to an advisor, for example, you have the right to be presumed “not responsible” (innocent) until proven “responsible” (guilty). You also have the right to review any evidence against you.
- The Title IX Coordinator appoints an Investigator to look into all cases. This person will meet separately with both you and the complainant. Your advisor can accompany you to this meeting, though in most cases, they cannot speak on your behalf.
- The Investigator will also collect physical evidence and interview any relevant witnesses. You have the right to submit evidence and suggest witnesses.
- At the conclusion of the investigation, the Investigator must complete a written report summarizing their findings. Both you and the complainant should have an opportunity to review this document and suggest any revisions.
- If you are a college student, the Coordinator will set a time and date for an official hearing and select one or more decision-makers to preside over the proceedings. Some high schools also hold hearings, but they are not required to under Title IX.
- Hearings must be live, but either side may request accommodations like privacy screens or closed-circuit video.
- At the hearing, both sides have an opportunity to present their case. At most schools, your advisor can submit evidence and question witnesses on your behalf. They may also cross-examine the complainant and any other witnesses against you.
- Once the hearing is over, the decision-maker(s) deliberate over your level of responsibility. In doing so, they use a legal standard known as “preponderance of evidence.” Less strict than “beyond a reasonable doubt,” this standard requires them to find you responsible if they believe it is “more likely than not” that you committed an offense.
- If you should be found responsible, you can appeal the decision, but usually only under very limited conditions such as the discovery of new evidence or procedural mistakes. You should also know that the complainant has a right to appeal as well if you should be found not responsible.
Title IX is also a politically sensitive law. In fact, the rules tend to change every time a new party takes control of the White House. Donald Trump significantly revised the procedural guidelines in 2020. Joe Biden has promised to roll back those guidelines. Only a Title IX attorney can help guide you safely through the process and make sure you don't make any serious missteps.
Choosing An Advisor
You know you're entitled to an advisor. You know that advisor can be an attorney. Obviously, there are a lot of lawyers in the world. How do you go about finding the right one for your case?
Your most important consideration should be how much a prospective attorney knows about Title IX. Title IX is a federal law, and most local attorneys just aren't equipped to handle cases. You need a Title IX attorney, someone who has spent their career studying this law; someone who understands its history and politics; someone with experience navigating the procedures.
You're in Maine, but keep in mind that your attorney doesn't need to be. Because Title IX is a federal law, anyone in the US can take on your case. In fact, local attorneys may be at a disadvantage because they're more practiced in trying state and local cases. Rather than look for the closest attorney, look for the one who knows the most about the law.
You can find out pretty quickly just how qualified a Title IX attorney is by asking three simple questions:
- How many Title IX cases have they dealt with?
- What is their success rate with Title IX cases?
- What specific strategies would they use to handle your case?
Joseph D. Lento, Title IX Attorney
Make no mistake: your entire future is on the line. If you're found responsible for sexual misconduct, the minimum penalty you'll probably face is suspension. More likely, your school will expel you. You simply can't afford to use an unqualified attorney or, worse yet, try to handle the case on your own.
Joseph D. Lento is a defense attorney, but he's not just any defense attorney. Joseph D. Lento specializes in Title IX cases. In fact, he built his career on defending students from sexual misconduct charges. He's helped hundreds of students get the justice they deserve, and he can help you.
Joseph D. Lento knows the law. He knows the procedures, and he knows how to protect your rights at every step along the way. Joseph D. Lento also knows how schools operate. He's as comfortable talking to faculty and administrators as he is to prosecutors and judges. Joseph D. Lento understands what you're up against, and he's committed to getting you the best possible resolution to your case.
If you or your child have been accused of Title IX sexual misconduct in Maine, we can help. Contact the Lento Law Firm's Maine office at 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.
Maine colleges and universities where Joseph D. Lento can help as your or your student's Title IX advisor during investigations, hearings, and appeals include, but are not limited to, the following schools:
- Bates College
- Bowdoin College
- Central Maine Community College
- Central Maine Medical Center College of Nursing and Health Professions
- Colby College
- College of the Atlantic
- Eastern Maine Community College
- Husson University
- Kaplan University Maine Campus
- Kennebec Valley Community College
- Landing School of Boat Building and Design
- Maine College of Art
- Maine Maritime Academy
- New England School of Communications
- Northern Maine Community College
- Saint Joseph's College of Maine
- Southern Maine Community College
- Thomas College
- Unity College
- University of Maine
- University of Maine at Augusta
- University of Maine at Farmington
- University of Maine at Fort Kent
- University of Maine at Machias
- University of Maine at Presque Isle
- University of New England
- University of Southern Maine
- Washington County Community College
- York County Community College
Title IX violations and Title IX charges can change an accused student's life if not defended against properly and as early as possible during the disciplinary process, and Joseph D. Lento has nearly a decade of experience passionately fighting for the futures of his clients at universities and colleges throughout the nation. 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 disciplinary cases in Maine and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.