In Part I of our Mishandling Cases series, we discussed how institutional bias, negligence, and ignoring counterevidence affected one student's Title IX investigation at the University of Southern California. Part II covers a similar story, this time at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.
Mishandling Sexual Misconduct Allegations
Moody Bible Institute is a Chicago-based fundamentalist Christian institution of higher education with high moral standards. Students must conduct themselves ethically and morally, avoiding immorality and impropriety. Despite this commitment to morality, more than 3,100 students signed a petition claiming school administrators mishandled sexual misconduct allegations.
Eleven current and former students wrote an open letter to Moody Bible Institute president Mark Jobe about the issue. The letter asserted that two of the school's administrators didn't inform victims of their rights or encouraged them not to file complaints under Title IX. The two staff members implicated are Dean of Students Timothy Arens, who retired on November 1, and former Title IX coordinator Rachel Puente, who was placed on administrative leave.
When Students Don't Know Their Rights
When students went to these two officials for complaints about sexual misconduct or emotional abuse on campus, they may not have been aware of how Title IX investigations work. In these situations, it's up to school administrators to let students know their rights and whether they can file a Title IX complaint.
Instead of keeping the rights of the students of Moody Bible Institute in mind, Arens and Puente warned them not to go public. One student was even placed on probation for breaking the school's rules on premarital sex when she tried to complain to Puente about experiencing sexual abuse from a former dating partner. The school handed down an unjust punishment and wouldn't allow the student to defend her case.
When students don't know their rights concerning Title IX, university staff can get away with not following the rules. They can pressure students not to pursue investigations to protect the school's reputation. They can also shut down Title IX cases quickly, denying accused students the chance to defend themselves—all in the interests of guarding the school's image. A lawyer with Title IX experience can help students know their rights and seek justice.
Working With an Experienced Title IX Attorney
At some universities, staff may go as far as destroying evidence to control the outcomes of sexual misconduct investigations. Often, this injustice works against the accused, not giving them a fair chance to argue their case or present counterevidence.
Students don't have to rely on negligent school administrators to pursue justice. The case shouldn't close because a dean of students dismisses your counterevidence without reviewing it. If you're a student at an institution of higher education, you have other options. You can speak with an experienced Title IX attorney about your rights and pursuing the justice that your institution denied you.
If you find yourself unfairly accused of a Title IX violation and want to defend yourself, contact attorney Joseph D. Lento. The Lento Law Firm represents students all over the U.S. who are fighting for their rights in the Title IX cases. Call the Firm today at 888.535.3686 to set up a consultation and discuss your options.