A bill in Missouri that would have altered the Title IX procedures for colleges in the state has faltered and dissolved in chaos. While the aims of the bill were reasonable, the details and motivation were rife with controversy.
Missouri Legislature Considers Title IX Bill
The proposed law, House Bill 573, was initiated by a state lobbyist, Richard McIntosh, and introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives in January. It would have overhauled the Title IX process for colleges in Missouri by reining in accusations and providing due process protections for the accused students.
Key among the provisions of the bill was the right of the accused to have a lawyer at the hearing, and for that lawyer to cross-examine an accuser about their sexual history and their drinking habits. The bill would also allow students who had been suspended or expelled – even those who had already been found in violation of Title IX before the bill passed – to appeal their punishment straight to Missouri's Administrative Hearing Commission.
However, House Bill 573 went further than that, too. One provision would have allowed students who were incorrectly found to have committed sexual misconduct to sue their school, campus staff members, and even their accusers in court and recover money damages from them.
In all, House Bill 573 would have made Missouri the most favorable place for a student accused of sexual misconduct under Title IX.
State politicians in Missouri were surprised by how vigorously lobbyists were pushing for the bill. There were 29 lobbyists working for its passage, paid for by a dark money group called Kingdom Principles.
Investigation Reveals Hidden Motives for the Bill
An article by the Kansas City Star, though, brought to light the real reason for the bill: Mr. McIntosh's son had recently been expelled from Washington University in St. Louis for violating Title IX.
Suddenly, some of House Bill 573's stranger provisions took on a new meaning: The bill expressly gave accused students rights, in reciprocity, to appeal their punishment to Missouri's Administrative Hearing Commission. This would allow Mr. McIntosh's son to lodge an appeal, even though his case had already closed.
And the choice of using Missouri's Administrative Hearing Commission became clear, as well. Its presiding and managing commissioner was none other than Audrey Hanson McIntosh, the wife of the lobbyist and mother of the expelled student.
And Kingdom Principles, the nonprofit fund of dark money behind the bill: It was founded by Mr. McIntosh.
In the aftermath of these revelations, support for House Bill 573 collapsed. The House Speaker refused to add it to the calendar, a necessary step for the bill to come to a vote in that chamber, effectively endings its progress through the legislature.
Title IX Attorney Joseph D. Lento
There were numerous problems with this particular attempt to correct the wrongs of Title IX, and some of them bear talking about in future blog posts. However, the need to inject some due process into the hearing procedure still remains one of the most pressing concerns in the law.
If you have been accused of violating Title IX with an act of sexual misconduct, Joseph D. Lento, a national Title IX advisor, can help you defend yourself. Contact him online or call his law office at (888) 535-3686.