An accusation of a sexual misconduct violation under the federal Title IX law is a serious matter that must be taken seriously. In the current cultural environment, schools are under tremendous pressure to resolve these charges quickly, leading to an accelerated process that often puts the accused at a disadvantage.
At most post-secondary institutions, the accused is allowed to choose a Title IX advisor who can help before and during an investigation and hearing(s).
Title IX is not a simple law, and not every lawyer understands how the process works. A qualified, experienced Title IX advisor gives you the best possible chance to fight back successfully.
What Is Title IX?
Passed in 1972, Title IX is a federal law intended to eliminate gender discrimination in US higher education. Mostly associated with funding for female athletics, it applies to all schools—the vast majority—that receive federal funding.
In the years since it has been subject to a lot of change and has become increasingly related to sexual harassment and assault. In 2020, the Trump administration made a huge overhaul to the guidelines around enforcement, while in 2021, the Biden administration signaled it would make a reversal and go further to protect transgender students under Title IX.
In Missouri, How Is Title IX Enforced?
Because every school is different, it's important to immediately consult your student handbook for specifics. That said, as a general rule within the University of Missouri System, students charged with Title IX infractions are formally entitled to the following rights:
- Respectful treatment from all university officials
- Unless they are suspended during an investigation, access to campus support resources
- Refusal to have an allegation resolved through certain university procedures
- A chance to appeal
Critically, students accused of Title IX sexual harassment violation are allowed under the UM system to have an advisor of their choice attend all meetings and proceedings and a chance to present potential witnesses and provide evidence.
How Does Title IX Work in General?
Broadly speaking, a Title IX sexual harassment case takes a general outline.
- The complainant will lodge an accusation with the school's Title IX coordinator, other responsible employees as designated by the institution, or the campus police.
- In the event an accusation is made, the Title IX coordinator or other responsible employee of the school must notify the respondent in writing, including details of the allegations and the rights—to be presumed not responsible and to avail themselves of an attorney-advisor—the complainant is afforded.
- The Title IX Coordinator will then appoint an investigator to meet with both the complainant and respondent to get their full accounts of the alleged incident(s); the investigator will also gather evidence and interview all witnesses to the alleged incident(s).
- Once the investigator wraps up evidence gathering, he/she writes a comprehensive report of the findings; both the complainant and respondent will be granted an opportunity to read the report and request possible changes before it is delivered to the Title IX coordinator.
The Decision-Making Phase
- The matter then moves into the decision-making phase; in a post-secondary education setting, all respondents are allowed to defend themselves at a live hearing. Schools from K-12 can hold hearings but are not required under federal Title IX law.
- At the Title IX hearing, both the complainant and respondent may be represented by their advisors, who may introduce evidence and call upon witnesses. Both sides can avail themselves of their rights to cross-examine one another and any witnesses called.
- The hearing will take place before a single decision-maker or a panel.
- Critically, the standard for the hearing will be much lower than that in a court of law; instead of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” it will be based on the “preponderance of evidence,” which essentially is 51 percent. So, if the decision-maker(s) reach the conclusion that the respondent is more than 50 percent likely to have committed the offense, they can convict.
Both sides have the right to appeal if they wish. There will be a time limit, usually ten days, to do so.
Appeals can be filed under only very specific circumstances:
- The emergence of new evidence
- A procedural mistake in Title IX procedures
- Clear bias on the part of the Title IX coordinator, the investigator, or the decision-maker(s)
The High Stakes of Sexual Harassment Under Title IX
While schools will present various types of sanctions, all as possible outcomes to a conviction of sexual misconduct under Title IX—they may raise things like written warnings, mandatory counseling, and restitution, for instance—the hard truth is that suspension is usually a minimum consequence. Expulsion is by far the most common decision.
While being expelled from school feels disastrous in and of itself, it also has a ripple effect that can last a lifetime.
Getting into another school after expulsion can be challenging, if not impossible, and graduate studies programs will perceive a suspension or expulsion as a serious roadblock to admission. In other words, it can mark the end of an academic career and limit all other future opportunities.
Why Joseph D. Lento Can Help with Title IX Allegations
Title IX sexual misconduct cases involve complicated, evolving federal law that can jeopardize an academic and financial future. These cases demand a lawyer who knows the law inside and out and has specific experience in defending them.
Attorney Joseph Lento is steeped in the intricacies of how schools handle these allegations and the best way to approach investigations and hearings involving charges ranging from rape to stalking and other forms of harassment. Attorney Lento serves as a legal advisor to clients in schools in Missouri and across the country.
If you or someone close to you has been accused of an act of misconduct under Title IX, get in touch with the Lento Law Firm at 888-555-3686.
Remember, your school is ahead of you and is already putting together its case. Call us today.
Missouri 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:
- Avila University
- Baptist Bible College and Graduate School
- Brown Mackie College St Louis
- Bryan University Springfield
- Calvary Bible College and Theological Seminary
- Central Bible College
- Central Christian College of the Bible
- Central Methodist University College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
- Chamberlain College of Nursing Missouri
- College of the Ozarks
- Colorado Technical University Kansas City
- Columbia College
- Conception Seminary College
- Cottey College
- Cox College
- Crowder College
- Culver Stockton College
- DeVry University Missouri
- Drury University
- East Central College
- Evangel University
- Everest College Springfield
- Fontbonne University
- Grantham University
- Hannibal LaGrange University
- Harris Stowe State University
- Hickey College
- ITT Technical Institute Arnold
- ITT Technical Institute Earth City
- ITT Technical Institute Kansas City
- ITT Technical Institute Springfield
- Jefferson College
- Kansas City Art Institute
- Kenrick Glennon Seminary
- L'Ecole Culinaire
- Lincoln University
- Lindenwood University
- Linn State Technical College
- Maryville University of Saint Louis
- Messenger College
- Metro Business College Arnold
- Metro Business College Cape Girardeau
- Metro Business College Jefferson City
- Metro Business College Rolla
- Metropolitan Community College Blue River
- Metropolitan Community College Business & Technology
- Metropolitan Community College Longview
- Metropolitan Community College Maple Woods
- Metropolitan Community College Penn Valley
- Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
- Mineral Area College
- Missouri Baptist University
- Missouri College
- Missouri Southern State University
- Missouri State University Springfield
- Missouri State University West Plains
- Missouri Tech
- Missouri University of Science and Technology
- Missouri Valley College
- Missouri Western State University
- Moberly Area Community College
- National American University Independence
- National American University Lee's Summit
- National American University Zona Rosa
- North Central Missouri College
- Northwest Missouri State University
- Ozark Christian College
- Ozarks Technical Community College
- Park University
- Pinnacle Career Institute North Kansas City
- Pinnacle Career Institute South Kansas City
- Ranken Technical College
- Research College of Nursing
- Rockhurst University
- Saint Louis Christian College
- Saint Louis Community College
- Saint Louis University Main Campus
- Sanford Brown College Fenton
- Sanford Brown College Hazelwood
- Sanford Brown College St Peters
- Southeast Missouri Hospital College of Nursing and Health Sciences
- Southeast Missouri State University
- Southwest Baptist University
- St Charles Community College
- St Louis College of Health Careers Fenton
- St Louis College of Health Careers St Louis
- St Louis College of Pharmacy
- State Fair Community College
- Stephens College
- Stevens Institute of Business & Arts
- Texas County Technical College
- Three Rivers Community College
- Truman State University
- University of Central Missouri
- University of Missouri Columbia
- University of Missouri Kansas City
- University of Missouri St Louis
- University of Phoenix Kansas City Campus
- University of Phoenix Springfield Campus
- University of Phoenix St Louis Campus
- Vatterott College Berkeley
- Vatterott College
- Vatterott College Kansas City
- Vatterott College Saint Joseph
- Vatterott College Springfield
- Vatterott College St Charles
- Vatterott College Sunset Hills
- Washington University in St Louis
- Webster University
- Wentworth Military Academy & Junior College
- Westminster College
- William Jewell College
- William Woods University
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 future 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 Missouri and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.