New Title IX rules went into effect on August 14, 2020. Click here to learn about the changes to Title IX and how college sexual misconduct cases will be addressed and adjudicated under the new rules.
A Title IX complaint for sexual misconduct is a serious allegation on campuses across the United States. Schools, colleges, and universities are required by law to respond to all Title IX complaints of sexual misconduct or they risk losing their federal funding.
As a result, the Title IX disciplinary process is often swift, with severe sanctions for the accused, including probation, suspension, and even expulsion. This can have far-reaching consequences for your education and your career that can set you back for years to come.
If you've been accused of a Title IX sexual misconduct violation, you probably have many questions. This FAQ is here to help you navigate the Title IX process. The Title IX complaint process varies by school, but most follow some common procedures.
One thing is true no matter where you go to school: you have the right to a Title IX advisor to represent you. Generally, Title IX cases turn out much better for the accused when they have an advocate on their side to protect their rights.
Joseph D. Lento specializes in Title IX cases nationwide. Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 to get in touch with an experienced Title IX advisor today.
Download the Lento Law Firm's Complimentary PDF Guide to Title IX Complaints for the Accused: What to Do if You've Been Wrongly Accused of a Title IX Sexual Misconduct Charge
Title IX FAQ
- Who Can File a Title IX Complaint for Sexual Misconduct?
- Who Does Title IX Apply To?
- What Are Title IX Protected Classes?
- Who is Protected Under Title IX?
- What Are Title IX Protections?
- What Are the Rights of the Accused Under Title IX?
- How Long Does the Title IX Process Take?
- Who Enforces Title IX?
- How Is Title IX Enforced?
- What Does Title IX Require Schools to Do?
- What Is a Title IX “Yes Means Yes” Policy?
- How Do You Prove Affirmative Consent in a Title IX Investigation?
- How Does Alcohol or Drug Intoxication Affect Affirmative Consent?
- What Is the Difference Between Intoxication and Incapacitation?
- How Can I Defend Against a Title IX Sexual Misconduct Charge Involving Intoxication?
- How Does Title IX Reporting Work?
- What Is Mandatory Reporting Under Title IX?
- What Are Title IX Violations?
- What Is a Title IX Coordinator?
- What Is a Title IX Advisor?
- How Does a Title IX Advisor Help in a Title IX Case?
- Should I Hire a Lawyer for My Title IX Case?
- When Should I Hire a Lawyer for My Title IX Case?
- How Can a Title IX Lawyer Help My Case?
- How Does Title IX Apply to Colleges?
- How Does Title IX Impact University Students?
- Does Title IX Apply to High Schools?
- Does Title IX Apply to Private Schools?
- What Does Title IX Prohibit?
- What Is Title IX Sexual Misconduct?
- What Is Sexual Harassment Under Title IX?
- Can You Be in Violation of Title IX for Stalking?
- What is a Title IX Complaint for Sexual Misconduct?
- What Is the Title IX Statute of Limitations?
- Are Title IX Complaints Public or Confidential?
- Are Parents Notified of College Misconduct Cases?
- What Are the Penalties for Title IX Sexual Misconduct Violations?
- Can I Be Suspended or Expelled for Title IX Sexual Misconduct?
- Can a Title IX Complaint Affect My Scholarship?
- What Are Title IX Interim Measures?
- What Is a Title IX No-Contact Order?
- How Do Title IX Investigations Work?
- How Do I Respond to a Title IX Investigation?
- Do I Have to Cooperate With My School's Title IX Investigation?
- Should I Talk to School Administrators During My Title IX Investigation?
- Should I Talk to Campus Security or Law Enforcement During My Title IX Investigation?
- What's the Standard of Proof in a Title IX Investigation?
- What Is Title IX Due Process?
- Will I Get Due Process in My Title IX Case?
- How Do I File a Title IX Due Process Lawsuit?
- Should I File a Lawsuit Before the Title IX Process Is Over?
- Can I File a Title IX Complaint for Unfair Treatment?
- What Is a Title IX Disciplinary Hearing?
- What Is the Title IX Hearing Process?
- How Do I Prepare for a Title IX Disciplinary Hearing?
- Am I Allowed to Bring a Lawyer to My Title IX Disciplinary Hearing?
- Can You Cross-Examine Parties or Witnesses in a Title IX Hearing?
- What Is Title IX Mediation?
- Should I Agree to Mediation in a Title IX Case?
- What If My School Finds Me Responsible for Sexual Misconduct?
- How Do I Appeal a Title IX Finding of Responsibility?
- Can Title IX Cases Lead to Criminal Charges?
- Can I Be Charged Under Title IX for "Revenge Porn"?
- How Can I Defend Against a “Revenge Porn” Charge?
- What Are the Consequences of Retaliation Under Title IX?
- Can the Use of Alcohol or Drugs Affect My Title IX Case?
- Can I Be Charged With a Crime at the Same Time as a Title IX Violation?
- Can My School Discipline Me Under Title IX Even If I'm Not Convicted of a Crime?
- What If I'm an International Student Accused of Title IX Sexual Misconduct?
- What Happens If I'm Accused of Title IX Sexual Misconduct in Graduate School?
- What Happens If I'm Accused of Title IX Sexual Misconduct in Law School?
- What Happens If I'm Accused of Title IX Sexual Misconduct in Medical School?
- What Happens If I'm Accused of Title IX Sexual Misconduct in Nursing School?
- What Do the New 2020 Title IX Rules Mean for My Title IX Case?
- What Should I Do If I've Exhausted All Possible Appeals in My Title IX Case?
- Can I Get My Title IX Record Expunged?
Who Can File a Title IX Complaint for Sexual Misconduct?
Title IX is a federal civil rights law passed in 1972 that makes it illegal to discriminate based on sex. It applies to any educational program that gets financial aid from the federal government.
Title IX complaints are filed either with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) or the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
Anyone can file a Title IX complaint for sexual misconduct with the OCR. This is true even for people who are not victims of discrimination or have no connection to the educational institution.
Filing a Title IX complaint is different than filing a Title IX lawsuit. Filing a complaint is much simpler to do. Anyone can file a complaint and complaints can be filed on behalf of others.
In contrast, only a victim or the parents of a minor victim can file a Title IX lawsuit.
The person who files a Title IX complaint for sexual misconduct is called the complainant. The person accused of a Title IX violation is called the respondent.
Title IX complaints are serious and come with severe consequences for the accused, including probation, suspension, or expulsion from school. Any sanctions you get can end up on your permanent record where other schools and employers are likely to see it.
Joseph D. Lento defends Title IX cases in schools nationwide. We know what you're going through. The sooner you get an experienced advisor involved in your case, the better. Call any time of day at (888) 535-3686 for a Title IX case consultation.
Who Does Title IX Apply To?
Title IX applies at all levels of education, including:
- Local school districts
- Charter schools
- Private schools
- Libraries and museums
- Public and private colleges and universities
If your school takes federal government funding of any kind, you are covered by Title IX.
Federal funding also includes financial aid through federal agencies.
What Are Title IX Protected Classes?
A “protected class” describes a group of people who get special protections under the law based on some common characteristic, like race or gender.
Under Title IX, sex is a protected class. The law prohibits discrimination based on sex. That includes sexual misconduct, harassment, and sexual violence.
Who is Protected under Title IX?
If your school or educational program receives government funds for any purpose, it's covered under Title IX. The law covers all part- and full-time students, faculty, and staff. This applies irrespective of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, race, or national origin.
What Are Title IX Protections?
Title IX protects against discrimination based on sex. The law applies across the U.S. to any school that accepts government funding. Most schools take some form of financial assistance from the government, which means most students are covered under the law.
Title IX itself is a short statute, just a single sentence long:
“No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”
The Supreme Court and the U.S. Department of Education have taken Title IX's protections and applied them broadly to include sexual harassment and sexual violence.
In addition, Title IX requires schools to take action to remedy complaints of sexual discrimination and harassment. Otherwise, they risk losing their funding.
As a result, schools take Title IX sexual misconduct complaints seriously. Often, students accused of Title IX sexual misconduct don't realize the gravity of their situation until it's too late and a sanction has been issued against them. Once your school has taken sanctions against you, it's much more difficult to fight a Title IX case.
Title IX protections apply both on and off campus, even when incidents involve people who are not students.
What Are the Rights of the Accused Under Title IX?
If you've been accused of Title IX sexual misconduct, you may be surprised at how little protection you get during the process. Your education is a major investment in your future. Title IX sanctions could include suspension or even expulsion, putting all of that at risk. Sanctions could end up on your permanent record or even lead to criminal charges.
Under Title IX, you have the right to an advisor to represent you in the disciplinary process. If you don't pick a Title IX advisor, the case against you can move forward without an advocate on your side. This would be a huge mistake.
Unfortunately, students accused of sexual misconduct under Title IX are at a disadvantage from the beginning. University disciplinary hearings tend to be harsh and swift. You have very little time to prepare for an unfamiliar process that could set your entire future off course.
You are much more likely to have a successful defense with an experienced Title IX attorney who's got your back and knows the system. The Title IX process is unique. It's handled differently on campus compared to proceedings in state or federal court. Plus, Title IX enforcement and proceedings change based on each individual school.
Joseph Lento is an experienced attorney and Title IX advisor who can help you navigate your school's disciplinary process. Call (888) 535-3686 for a case consultation today.
How Long Does the Title IX Process Take?
The Title IX process moves quickly, with short deadlines. Most proceedings start within days of the complaint being filed and many conclude within 60 days.
Schools are heavily incentivized by the federal government to take a hard stance on Title IX sexual misconduct allegations. This is especially true as even top-tier colleges and universities have been called out in the media for their failure to take action in these types of cases.
Common Timeline for Title IX Disciplinary Proceedings:
Day 1 – The timeline begins as soon as the incident is reported in a complaint to the school. Incidents must be reported within 180 days after they happen.
Week 1 – Your school's Title IX coordinator will notify you about the complaint, gather preliminary information, and complete an incident report. They may call law enforcement if appropriate. You should contact a Title IX advisor immediately at this point.
Weeks 2-5 – Your school's Title IX investigators carry out the investigation.
Week 6 – Your Title IX investigation concludes with the final report presented to the Title IX coordinator. Both the complainant and respondent will be notified of the findings.
Week 7 – Your school's Title IX coordinator will review the investigation, decide what action to take next, and notify you about their decision.
Weeks 7-8 – Your school's judicial sanctioning board will make a decision and report to both parties. The appeals process begins.
- Day 60 – Sanctions are applied if you are found responsible.
Disciplinary proceedings may continue even if your school is not in session. This may be the case right now, as coronavirus spreads throughout the country. You may not necessarily be on campus, but your Title IX case may still move forward.
If you've been accused of Title IX sexual misconduct, you should contact an experienced Title IX advisor right away. The sooner you talk to someone, the better.
Who Enforces Title IX?
The United States Department of Education (DOE) is responsible for administering federal funding to educational programs and schools across the country. The DOE's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has the job of enforcing Title IX.
The OCR has 12 offices nationwide to help enforce Title IX. They are in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. Each office oversees its own region. The OCR has a separate headquarters in Washington, D.C. that supervises all of the other offices.
On campus, most schools will have someone appointed to the position of Title IX coordinator. The Title IX coordinator is responsible for enforcing Title IX at your school.
How Is Title IX Enforced?
The OCR enforces Title IX on campuses across the country in a number of ways:
- Investigating Title IX complaints on campus
- Carrying out compliance reviews of schools
- Providing technical assistance to schools as they investigate Title IX complaints
If the OCR finds that a school violated Title IX, it must give the school the chance to fix the violation on its own. If the school fails to remedy the issue, then the OCR can:
- Start the administrative process of ending the school's federal funding or
- Refer the case to the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), where the government can take the school to federal court for violation of the law.
The OCR can start its own investigation even if no one has filed a complaint. Usually, this happens if the OCR has information that the school is experiencing compliance problems.
What Does Title IX Require Schools to Do?
Under Title IX, schools must provide students the same opportunity to participate in their educational programs, no matter their sex, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity.
Title IX puts the responsibility on schools to:
- Actively prevent, respond, and remedy all reports and complaints of sexual discrimination, harassment, violence, and retaliation.
- Put in place a prompt and impartial process to investigate and resolve complaints of sexual misconduct.
- Assign a neutral Title IX coordinator to oversee the school's compliance with the law.
- Allow both parties equal opportunity to present their sides of the case with relevant evidence and appropriate witnesses.
- Inform the complainant of optional interim measures that can be taken, such as no-contact orders or changes to living, dining, working or transportation conditions.
- Allow the complainant to change academic or extracurricular activities as appropriate.
- Notify both parties in writing about the final outcome of disciplinary proceedings and any sanctions to be taken.
In some cases of sexual harassment, Title IX allows for a more informal process like mediation. Mediation is not allowed for cases that involve allegations of sexual assault.
What Is a Title IX “Yes Means Yes” Policy?
Some states have enacted affirmative consent laws that apply to sexual assault cases and require state-funded schools to follow this new standard of consent.
In 2014, the governor of California signed the country's first affirmative consent standard into law. The “Yes Means Yes” standard applies to high school and college sexual assault cases:
“‘Affirmative consent' means affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. It is the responsibility of each person involved in the sexual activity to ensure that he or she has the affirmative consent of the other or others to engage in the sexual activity. Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time. The existence of a dating relationship between the persons involved, or the fact of past sexual relations between them, should never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of consent.”
The state of New York enacted a similar law in 2015 called “Enough is Enough,” which requires New York colleges to follow a definition of affirmative consent:
“Affirmative consent is a knowing, voluntary, and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity. Consent can be given by words or actions, as long as those words or actions create clear permission regarding willingness to engage in the sexual activity. Silence or lack of resistance, in and of itself, does not demonstrate consent. The definition of consent does not vary based upon a participant's sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”
Similar affirmative consent legislation has been signed into law in states like Connecticut, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, and Virginia. Many other states and even cities have consent laws currently under construction.
Affirmative consent laws define consent as an agreement to engage in sexual conduct that is voluntary, affirmative, conscious, and mutual. It can be withdrawn at any time.
Under affirmative consent laws:
- Consent can be given verbally or nonverbally
- Consent to one sexual act does not necessarily give consent to another sexual act
- A history of prior consent does not automatically establish consent for the future
- Consent is required even if the initiating party is under the influence
- Consent may be revoked or withdrawn at any time
- Anyone who is incapacitated is unable to give consent
State laws can change the dynamics of any Title IX case. The best Title IX advisors know the differences in state law and can help you navigate them.
How Do You Prove Affirmative Consent in a Title IX Investigation?
Colleges and universities across the United States have been adopting affirmative consent policies, such as California's “Yes Means Yes” policy. What does that mean if you're a student accused of a Title IX violation for sexual misconduct at an affirmative consent school?
Affirmative consent policies can be problematic for students who engage in consensual sex but are found responsible for sexual misconduct because they were unable to prove it.
Unfortunately, these laws can be vague and leave students guessing. You can testify in your Title IX interviews that you received verbal consent throughout the encounter. But that may reduce your case to a “he said, she said” situation, with no proof either way.
So how do you prove affirmative consent in your defense?
- Find witnesses who saw the parties engaging with mutual consent, both before and after the incident or during the time the incident took place
- Show text messages between the parties showing a positive relationship and no concerns before or after the incident
- Conduct a forensic or psychological evaluation to dispute your accuser's claims
But even text messages or other recordings of consent may not be enough under the “continuous” consent standard, where consent is required at every stage of the sexual encounter. The intimate nature of most sexual misconduct cases means that there are few third-party witnesses to the actual encounter that can confirm either party's account.
Because affirmative consent laws are so new, schools, administrators, and legislators are still establishing answers to the question of proof.
If you are facing Title IX sexual misconduct charges in an affirmative consent state, your Title IX advisor can help you navigate this new legal challenge. Your defense will depend heavily on the facts and circumstances of your case. Call (888) 535-3686 to talk to an experienced Title IX advisor about your Title IX case today.
How Does Alcohol or Drug Intoxication Affect Affirmative Consent?
Alcohol and drugs often play a role in campus sexual misconduct incidents. The use of alcohol or drugs can impair your judgment, senses, actions, and memory. They could do the same to your accuser. As a result, drugs and alcohol usually complicate Title IX cases.
Under affirmative consent policies, someone may be unable to give consent if they become incapacitated by alcohol or drug use.
Legally, someone could be considered incapacitated and incapable of giving consent if:
- They are asleep or unconscious,
- They are under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or medication in a way that makes them unable to understand what's happening, or
- They lack the ability to make a rational decision or to communicate it.
Even if you are also under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you are still responsible for getting affirmative consent from the other party. That means your own intoxication won't be a valid excuse for a charge of sexual misconduct.
If your Title IX investigation determines that you knew or should have known the person was unable to consent, you could be held responsible for sexual misconduct.
Does that mean every intoxicated sexual encounter is misconduct? No. That's because there's a difference between intoxication and incapacitation.
Problems occur when schools fail to make that distinction. Most schools have their own definitions of what type of conduct is “intoxicated” versus “incapacitated.”
What Is the Difference Between Intoxication and Incapacitation?
Not all intoxication equals incapacitation. You can still be buzzed or intoxicated and able to give consent. Incapacitation goes beyond a little buzz or drunkenness.
Schools will usually include their own definitions of intoxication and incapacitation in the student manual or code of conduct and will often publish this information online. They may even provide examples of what types of situations they consider intoxication versus incapacitation.
Generally, examples of intoxication could include:
- Slurring speech
- Stumbling or trouble balancing
- Exaggerated emotions
- Lowered inhibitions
Signs of incapacitation could Include:
- Incoherent speech, not making sense
- Unable to walk without help or understand others
- Confusion on simple facts like the current date or location
- Blacking out, fading in and out of consciousness, passing out
If someone is impaired to the point that they are unable to understand “the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual activity,” they are considered incapable of giving consent.
An incapacitated person may be confused about where they are or how they got there. They may not know who they're with or what's happening around them.
The line between intoxication and incapacitation can be thin and not well understood, even in the criminal court system. If your Title IX case involves either party's use of alcohol or drugs, its outcome may well revolve around this distinction.
Alcohol and drugs can complicate your Title IX case and may be difficult to defend against. The right Title IX advisor can help you successfully navigate these complexities.
How Can I Defend Against a Title IX Sexual Misconduct Charge Involving Intoxication?
Depending on the school, drinking culture can be a big part of campus life, with students working hard and playing hard to match. As a result, alcohol and drugs appear often in Title IX sexual misconduct incidents. Any events or parties on and off campus, including those in fraternities and sororities, could fall under Title IX. A night of fun gone wrong could throw your educational future into question and your career off its path.
If you've been accused of sexual misconduct under Title IX and your accuser claims they were too drunk or intoxicated to consent, your best defense is to draw the line between intoxication and incapacitation as clearly as possible. You must prove that your accuser may have been drinking but not so much that they were unable to know what they were doing.
That's a fine line to tread and very difficult to establish on your own. This is where the skills of an experienced Title IX lawyer can make the difference in your case. Your Title IX attorney, working as your Title IX advisor, can help you communicate your best defense to your school.
If you've been accused of sexual assault while your accuser was under the influence, you could defend yourself by proving intoxication, not incapacitation.
One way you could do this is by finding reliable witnesses who can provide a personal account of you and your accuser's behavior at the time of the incident.
If a witness testifies that your accuser was so sick they were vomiting, that evidence could hurt your case. But if a witness testifies that both you and the accuser seemed fine and in your right minds just before, during, and/or after the incident, that could help your case.
You may try to defend yourself by arguing that:
- Your accuser initiated the sexual contact, or
- You yourself were under the influence at the time.
While these arguments might make sense to you, they could be risky in a Title IX hearing.
- Even if your accuser initiated sexual contact, they could still be considered incapacitated if they claim they didn't know what they were doing.
- If you admit to being under the influence yourself, that could open you up to more violations of the school code of conduct.
An experienced Title IX advisor is your best chance at defending yourself when the facts of your case are complicated by alcohol or drug use. The right Title IX advisor will know:
- The standards and policies for intoxication and incapacitation at your specific school
- Which facts in your case to emphasize to best prove your innocence
- Which witness testimony is the strongest for defending your case
- How to present your case to your school's Title IX office without opening yourself up to more student conduct violations
Joseph D. Lento has dedicated a decade of his legal career to fighting for the rights of students wrongly accused of Title IX sexual misconduct. Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 today to get started on your Title IX defense without delay.
How Does Title IX Reporting Work?
Many schools, colleges, and universities encourage all campus community members to voluntarily report incidents of sexual discrimination, harassment, or violence.
Some members of the community, however, are “mandatory reporters” under Title IX.
Whenever someone files a complaint, they have the option to file a police report as well.
What Is Mandatory Reporting Under Title IX?
Title IX identifies certain types of “reasonable employees” who have both the authority and legal obligation to report and remedy sexual misconduct on campus.
Title IX mandatory reporters include:
- Vice presidents, chancellors, provosts, deans, and directors
- Faculty members, supervisors, and managers
- Department heads and coaches
- Student affairs professionals
- Residential staff including residential assistants (RAs)
Some schools, in an effort to avoid confusion, have a blanket policy that designates all employees as mandatory reporters.
These employees are expected to take action under Title IX to protect students, faculty, and staff from sexual discrimination, harassment, and violence.
Mandatory reporters are required by law to report sexual misconduct or Title IX violations to school leadership as soon they become aware of it. This includes incidents that the reporter observed themselves and incidents that were reported to them by others.
Mandatory reporters may have additional legal obligations depending on the state. If your case involves a minor, they may be required to report the incident to the police.
What Are Title IX Violations?
A Title IX violation means that a school failed to take the necessary steps to comply with Title IX requirements. This exposes the school to the possibility of losing its federal funding.
A school could be in violation of Title IX for:
- Failing to appoint or train a Title IX coordinator
- Discriminating on the basis of sex in admissions, financial assistance, or program participation
- Allowing sexual harassment to continue without taking action
- Failing to give the Title IX coordinator the resources they need to perform their job
- Failing to properly investigate Title IX claims for sexual misconduct
The consequences for schools that fail to live up to Title IX are severe. For many colleges and universities, millions of dollars could be on the line. Schools would rather not be the subject of a high-profile Title IX case in federal court. Recently, several top-tier schools have been in the media for Title IX violations. Most colleges want to avoid that fate.
As a result, colleges and universities often take a severe stance in their own enforcement of Title IX sexual misconduct on campus. Students who have been accused of Title IX sexual misconduct can quickly find themselves facing harsh sanctions.
An experienced Title IX advisor is the best way to protect the rights of the accused in a Title IX investigation – before they get sanctioned.
What Is a Title IX Coordinator?
Whenever a school district, college, or university receives federal funding, they must assign someone on campus as the Title IX coordinator. The Title IX coordinator's job is to make sure that the school complies with all Title IX requirements. This includes:
- Handling Title IX complaints
- Managing the campus disciplinary process
- Assigning investigators to Title IX cases
- Overseeing the Title IX investigation on campus
- Reporting findings to the school judiciary committee
- Reviewing Title IX sanctions recommended by the committee
- Educating the campus on Title IX policies and resources
If you've been accused of sexual misconduct in a Title IX complaint, your school's Title IX coordinator will be your primary point of contact in the process. They will reach out to you to notify you about the investigation once it starts and call law enforcement if appropriate.
Your Title IX coordinator will assign investigators to your case, put together a preliminary report at the beginning of the investigation, and notify you of any findings and decisions.
Under Title IX, the coordinator must be independent and report directly to senior leadership at the school. On many campuses, the Title IX coordinator is a full-time position. Many Title IX coordinators are specially trained and qualified for the position. Some schools, especially large school districts or universities, may have multiple Title IX coordinators on staff.
Sometimes the Title IX coordinator is a school employee with other responsibilities. This is allowed as long as their position does not create a conflict of interest (such as a disciplinary board member, principal, dean of students, or superintendent).
It's part of a school's responsibilities to make sure that the Title IX coordinator has all the training and resources they need to carry out their job. If a school fails to appoint a Title IX coordinator, train the coordinator properly, or give the coordinator enough authority to carry out their duties, the school could come under fire for violating Title IX.
If you've been accused of sexual misconduct under Title IX, it's important that you know the Title IX coordinator is not on your side. Although a Title IX coordinator is supposed to be neutral and objective, they are still invested in the Title IX disciplinary process. Their primary purpose is to make sure the law is enforced, not that you have a proper defense.
The best defense in a Title IX case and the only person fully on your side is your Title IX advisor.
Who Is the Title IX Coordinator at Your School?
Many colleges and universities have their Title IX coordinator's contact information listed on the school website. If you attend a large university with multiple coordinators, you may even have a Title IX coordinator assigned to your dorm.
Check your student handbook or call your school's student affairs office for more information.
What Is a Title IX Advisor?
Every student has the right to an advisor under Title IX. Any student accused of sexual misconduct under Title IX should contact an experienced Title IX advisor right away for their best chances at beating the accusations.
Your Title IX advisor is the one person who is 100% in your corner through the entire Title IX process. Their role is to protect your rights and your future.
Although your Title IX advisor does not have to be a lawyer, having a lawyer on your side has its advantages because your case can lead to civil or criminal consequences off-campus. In addition to protecting your rights on campus, a Title IX lawyer can anticipate these legal challenges and help you avoid them at the same time.
When choosing a Title IX advisor, make sure to find a lawyer who specializes in Title IX cases. The Title IX disciplinary process is unique, especially at the college and university level. The system is completely different from legal cases in state or federal court.
Joseph D. Lento is a lawyer who specializes in both Title IX cases and criminal defense. For more than 10 years he's fought for students who have been wrongly accused under Title IX on college and university campuses nationwide. If you've been accused of a Title IX violation for sexual misconduct, Joseph knows what you and your family are going through. He's helped thousands of students and parents get through this challenging process.
The stakes are high in Title IX cases. A strong Title IX lawyer is your best chance at beating a Title IX accusation of sexual misconduct and any other charges that may follow. Joseph Lento will do whatever it takes to make sure your education and future stay on track. Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 for your consultation today.
How Does a Title IX Advisor Help in a Title IX Case?
Unfortunately, students accused of Title IX sexual misconduct don't get many legal protections. Disciplinary hearings can be swift and harsh. Even though a Title IX misconduct allegation can have serious consequences including criminal charges, students and families can find themselves on the short side of a system that's stacked against them.
This system can put the accused at the mercy of their school, with limited rights and few safeguards. Students and parents often don't get much guidance in the process. As a result, they can be woefully unprepared to defend themselves in the disciplinary process.
The best Title IX advisor can:
- Help you understand and navigate the Title IX disciplinary procedures at your specific school and what to expect from the process.
- Advise you on what actions to take to best protect your interests.
- Protect your rights both on and off campus whenever necessary.
- Handle all aspects of your Title IX defense at all stages of the case, including appeals.
- Prepare and present the evidence most likely to support your defense.
- Carry out in-person meetings with school officials on your behalf.
- Anticipate and help you avoid additional charges whenever possible.
As a Title IX advisor and attorney, Joseph D. Lento has handled thousands of cases all over the United States. He has vast experience in the areas of both Title IX defense and criminal law. He's developed relationships with colleges and universities across the country where he's successfully defended his clients. He is the most valuable asset you can have in your corner at this time. Call (888) 535-3686 to speak with Joseph about your case today.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for My Title IX Case?
Once you've been notified of a Title IX complaint of sexual misconduct against you, your school may offer you a Title IX advisor. Should you still hire a lawyer?
The answer depends on you. What do you have at stake in a Title IX investigation?
Many students accused of sexual misconduct under Title IX have worked their whole lives to get into the school of their dreams. The outcome of a Title IX investigation can take that all away.
The truth is that any kind of sexual misconduct is a serious charge, whether you've been accused of inappropriate remarks or sexual assault. You can't afford to ignore the charge and hope it goes away. In today's climate, even a suspicion or rumor of sexual misconduct could disrupt your career. An official determination of responsibility against you after an investigation by your school could derail your future completely.
Your Title IX advisor should be someone who is 100% in your corner, dedicated to your defense above all else. Your school may tell you that their Title IX advisor is there to help you. But your school's Title IX advisor is most interested in making sure the Title IX process goes smoothly. They don't necessarily have your best interests in mind.
Some students are concerned: will hiring a Title IX lawyer make them look guilty? The answer is absolutely not. Hiring an attorney is the most reasonable thing you can do in your situation.
When you hire a lawyer to represent you in your Title IX investigation, you:
- Level the playing field in a system that might otherwise be stacked against you
- Ensure a fair process throughout your investigation
- Protect your interests and your legal rights
You might also have a choice between a Title IX advisor who is a lawyer and one who isn't. Why is it so important to have a lawyer as your advisor? Because many Title IX investigations have legal consequences beyond campus, in both civil and criminal court. A Title IX lawyer can anticipate those legal challenges and help you avoid or minimize them whenever possible.
If you're looking to hire a lawyer to defend you in a Title IX investigation, make sure to find a lawyer who specializes in Title IX defense. The reason? Even though Title IX sexual misconduct cases have some overlap with criminal and civil law, Title IX rules and procedures are completely different from ordinary legal processes.
So a lawyer without Title IX knowledge won't give you the same advantage as one who does. And because the Title IX process goes by so quickly, an unprepared attorney can end up costing you your best opportunities to defend yourself early in the investigation.
A lawyer who specializes in Title IX is the best of both worlds and your best chance at a successful Title IX defense, no question.
For over a decade, Joseph D. Lento has defended students wrongly accused of sexual misconduct under Title IX across the United States. He is an experienced Title IX lawyer who has established relationships and a track record of success with schools nationwide. Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 to get started on your case right away.
When Should I Hire a Lawyer for My Title IX Case?
The short answer: as soon as possible. The best time to contact a lawyer is as soon as you receive notice that you are the subject of a Title IX complaint. The sooner you talk to an attorney about your defense, the better chance you have at beating the charges.
Title IX requires schools to conduct a “prompt and fair” investigation of all sexual misconduct cases. Schools take the “prompt” part of this requirement seriously and aim to complete most Title IX investigations within 60 days of a complaint being filed.
60 days is not a lot of time, and yet students can find their entire lives upended in that span.
The biggest mistake students make after being wrongly accused of sexual misconduct is not taking the charges seriously enough until it's too late.
Students may hesitate to act and call a lawyer for a number of reasons:
- They know that they're innocent so they believe that the school's investigation will naturally clear them of wrongdoing.
- They don't want to tell their parents or family about the charges.
- They think the charges are mild and they can ride them out.
- Their school tells them that if they sign a statement admitting part responsibility they will get mild sanctions and can put the case behind them.
- They're convinced their sanctions will be worse if they fight the charges.
The truth is:
- You shouldn't assume your school's investigation will naturally uncover the truth of your innocence. Title IX investigations may claim to be fair and neutral but there are few procedural protections to ensure justice for the accused.
- Your family and support system are crucial to helping you beat your charges. They can provide moral support and help you retain a lawyer.
- Sexual misconduct charges are always serious, even if they're on the “mild” or nonviolent end of the spectrum. You can still get hefty academic sanctions that will reflect on your permanent record for years to come.
- Signing anything without the advice of a lawyer is a mistake and could be used as evidence in your Title IX investigation or future criminal cases. You may be signing away rights or admitting to guilt in ways you don't realize at the time.
- It is your right to defend yourself and to do so with proper representation. Hiring an experienced advocate most often leads to more lenient sanctions or no sanctions at all.
An experienced Title IX attorney knows the short timeline and high stakes you're facing. Joseph D. Lento leaps into action for his clients, working quickly and effectively to protect your interests on campus and beyond, both now and in the future.
What if you fail to act until your school finishes its Title IX investigation, finds you responsible, and takes sanctions against you? Is it too late to take action?
Fortunately, it's not too late. The best time to hire a Title IX lawyer is as soon as possible. That means if you haven't contacted one this far into the process, you should do so now. Even at this point, your Title IX attorney can make a difference in the outcome of your case.
Most Title IX proceedings have some sort of appeals process. Like the rest of the Title IX process, your school may have its own unique way of handling appeals. An experienced Title IX attorney can help you craft the best possible appeal for your school.
How Can a Title IX Lawyer Help My Case?
Your Title IX lawyer is your number one advocate, the one person dedicated to fighting for your rights and interests throughout the entire investigative process.
Your Title IX lawyer can do everything a non-lawyer Title IX advisor can do – and more. A lawyer who specializes in Title IX knows exactly how the school disciplinary process intersects with the civil and criminal justice systems and can protect you on all fronts. That is an incredible asset to have in your corner during such a challenging time.
In representing your interests, your Title IX attorney can:
- Address the “big picture” legal issues involved in your case
- Explain to you your school's Title IX disciplinary procedures
- Prepare you for what to expect throughout the Title IX process
- Advise you on the best courses of action to take for your defense
- Fight for your rights both on and off campus (including civil and criminal court)
- Handle all aspects of your Title IX case, including your appeal if necessary
- Carry out meetings with your school administrators on your behalf
- Anticipate and help you avoid any additional legal charges
- Protect you from accidentally incriminating yourself or signing away your rights
- Defend you in civil or criminal court proceedings if necessary
- Ensure that you get the due process that you're entitled to under the law
- File a Title IX due process lawsuit against your school if appropriate
- Help you save your education and your future
The reality is that sexual misconduct on campus is a serious legal issue with far-ranging consequences. Title IX sexual misconduct charges can turn into criminal charges. In some cases, you may have to deal with your school's Title IX investigation at the same time you're facing a criminal investigation conducted by local law enforcement.
A Title IX lawyer can defend you at all turns – at school and in civil and criminal court. It's a huge advantage to have a specialized legal professional who handles all aspects of your case. That way you can coordinate and streamline your defense across all proceedings.
Give yourself your best chance at a successful Title IX defense. Call the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 for a case consultation with an experienced Title IX lawyer today.
How Does Title IX Apply to Colleges?
Title IX applies to any college or university that accepts federal funding. Most colleges, even private universities, take some form of financial aid from the federal government.
Title IX applies to a school's campus in its entirety, no matter what the funds are used for. Even if you don't personally participate in a program that receives federal funds, you're still subject to Title IX rules against sex discrimination and harassment.
Colleges and universities take Title IX very seriously. Several high-profile, top-tier colleges have appeared in the news in recent years for failing to take proper action with Title IX sexual misconduct complaints. As a result, students facing Title IX sexual misconduct charges may find themselves swiftly facing severe sanctions, even if wrongly accused.
College is a pivotal time in your education and your career. A Title IX sanction for sexual misconduct could end up derailing your life plans. Title IX sanctions can end up on your permanent record, where other schools and employers are likely to see it.
This is a nightmare scenario for many students. At this point in your education, you've invested a huge amount of time and money to pursue your degree. If you've been accused of sexual misconduct under Title IX, you should contact a Title IX advisor right away.
Joseph D. Lento is dedicated to fighting for students who have been wrongly accused of sexual misconduct under Title IX. Call (888) 535-3686 today for a consultation of your case.
How Does Title IX Impact University Students?
Title IX plays a major role on American campuses today. College sexual misconduct is a serious issue that's gotten a lot of media coverage in recent years. High-ranking schools have appeared in the news for failing to take action against sexual assault. As a result, schools are often incentivized to take a hard approach to Title IX complaints.
Students who are wrongly accused of sexual misconduct under Title IX are often surprised at the sudden turn their life can take. The clock starts ticking on your case the moment a complaint is filed against you. Within 60 days, your education could be completely derailed.
Unfortunately, a Title IX investigation won't just go away. It isn't something you can ignore. Too many students and parents underestimate the consequences of a Title IX case until it's too late.
Does Title IX Apply to High Schools?
Yes, Title IX applies to all high schools that take any financial aid from the federal government. It applies to all elementary and secondary schools, as well as educational programs and activities like internships, research labs, or museum programs.
Does Title IX Apply to Private Schools?
Yes, Title IX applies to private schools that get financial assistance from the federal government.
Rather than giving funds directly to private schools, the federal government diverts these funds through tax exemptions, grants, vouchers, tax credits, and education savings accounts. Often, federal funding is allocated to private schools through each individual student.
Federal programs also distribute federal funds to state or local educational agencies, which can provide services to both private and religious schools.
Many private schools get some type of financial aid from the federal government. Private colleges and universities get large amounts of federal funding through federal loans and research grants. As a result, many private school students are covered under Title IX.
What Does Title IX Prohibit?
Title IX is a federal civil rights law that makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sex. Under Title IX, sex discrimination is defined to include sexual harassment, sexual misconduct, and sexual violence, such as sexual coercion, sexual battery, sexual assault, and rape.
In addition, it's illegal to retaliate against anyone for filing a Title IX complaint.
Title IX protections apply to both women and men, students and school employees.
What Is Title IX Sexual Misconduct?
Sexual misconduct under Title IX includes the following types of behavior:
- Sex-Based Discrimination – Schools cannot discriminate on the basis of sex for recruitment, admission, financial assistance, or program participation.
Sexual Harassment – It's illegal to harass anyone on the basis of sex in a way that would hinder their ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program.
- Sexual Violence – It's illegal to perpetrate sexual acts against someone when they are unwilling or incapable to give consent.
- Hostile Environment – Persistent sex-based harassment that continues over a period of time can create an illegal hostile environment.
Under Title IX, the definition of sexual violence includes:
- Sexual abuse, assault, battery, or coercion
- Relationship or domestic violence
- Rape or attempted rape
- Inappropriate touching
- Physical or aggressive sexual advances
A Title IX sexual misconduct allegation is a serious charge on your student record that can have long-lasting consequences for your education and professional career. Depending on the severity of the charges, you could be put on probation, suspended, or even expelled. The sanctions you receive can end up on your permanent record.
In some cases, Title IX investigations lead to or coincide with criminal investigations. The results of your Title IX investigation could be used in a criminal case against you. This could lead to even more severe consequences, such as fines or even jail time.
A strong Title IX advisor is the best way to protect yourself in a Title IX investigation. Joseph D. Lento is a lawyer who specializes in Title IX cases and their criminal law concerns. Call (888) 535-3686 to talk to a strong, experienced Title IX advisor today.
What Is Sexual Harassment Under Title IX?
Title IX defines sexual harassment to include:
- Unwanted verbal, visual, or physical sexual conduct
- Unwelcome sexual advances, requests, or favors
- Offensive, derogatory, or repeated remarks related to someone's sex
- Sexual exploitation, recording, or exposure (including “revenge porn”)
- Any type of harassment that's sexual in nature and impedes a student's right to an education or their ability to participate in the program or activity.
Can You Be in Violation of Title IX for Stalking?
Yes, stalking as a form of sexual harassment is a violation of Title IX.
Stalking involves repetitive following or interfering in someone else's life, enough to cause a reasonable person to feel fear. Stalking is a Title IX violation when it's based on sex.
What is a Title IX Complaint for Sexual Misconduct?
A Title IX complaint for sexual misconduct starts the Title IX disciplinary process.
Complaints can be filed directly with the school or with the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR). Most schools, colleges, and universities have a complaint reporting process in place. Once a complaint has been filed on campus, your school's Title IX coordinator will start the process of investigating the incident within a few days. One of the first actions they take will be to inform the accused that a complaint has been filed against them.
Once a complaint has been filed against you, the clock on your case starts to tick. Most Title IX cases tend to conclude within 60 days. By the end of those 60 days, the accused may face sanctions including probation, suspension, or expulsion from school.
Title IX complaints are serious and come with grave consequences for the accused. Unfortunately, many students and parents don't realize this until it's too late. They might not take action to defend themselves until after they've received sanctions from their school.
The best time to act to defend yourself against a Title IX complaint for sexual misconduct is as soon as possible. That means you should contact an experienced Title IX advisor as soon as you find out you are the subject of a Title IX investigation.
Joseph D. Lento is an experienced Title IX lawyer who has fought for a decade to defend students wrongly accused of sexual misconduct across the United States. Call the Lento Law Firm now at (888) 535-3686 to talk to someone about your Title IX defense.
What Is the Title IX Statute of Limitations?
A complainant has 180 days from the time of the last incident of discrimination to file a Title IX complaint with the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR). If harassment is ongoing or happened over a period of time, that limit may be extended.
Are Title IX Complaints Public or Confidential?
A public accusation of sexual misconduct can be extremely disruptive to your life, your education, and your career. The court of public opinion may find you guilty even if a Title IX investigation does not. The fallout can be devastating.
Because of the sensitive nature of sexual misconduct cases, Title IX investigations have strict privacy and confidentiality standards. Schools must take steps to protect both the complainant and the respondent's privacy throughout the Title IX investigative process.
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) requires that colleges, universities, and schools keep disciplinary records as part of each student's file.
Under the law, your disciplinary and student records are confidential. Some schools provide statistics about sexual misconduct on campus at the end of each semester or school year. These reports compile anonymous data but leave out case specifics.
If you are held to be in violation of Title IX, your record can only be shared if:
- You give written consent to share your records,
- The incident involves a sex offense or crime of violence and the school must forward the information to the appropriate authorities (such as law enforcement), or
- The information can be used to resolve a current or impending health or safety emergency.
Unfortunately, just because your Title IX records are confidential does not mean they won't affect your future. Most academic programs and employers require applicants to give their written consent to access their student records. Many ask you to disclose any disciplinary violations you've had. It's never a good idea to hide the truth, as most places will contact your school to get your records during the application process. Many schools and employers won't consider an applicant if they refuse to disclose their academic records.
As a result, any school or employer you apply to after your Title IX case will likely see your student disciplinary records. Some schools keep their records for 7 years. Many other schools keep student disciplinary records forever if they're found responsible of misconduct.
That means if you are reprimanded, put on probation, suspended, or expelled because of Title IX charges of sexual misconduct, these sanctions are likely to show up on your permanent record. The more serious the allegation, the more serious the sanctions. This could hurt your chances with employers, graduate schools, background checks, or professional licensing boards, such as state bar associations and medical licensing boards.
That's why it's so important to get an experienced Title IX advisor on your case right away. Call Title IX lawyer Joseph D. Lento at (888) 535-3686 for a case consultation today.
Anonymous or Confidential Title IX Complaints
Title IX complaints can be filed anonymously or confidentially. If a complaint is filed anonymously, the school may not have enough information to follow up. However, multiple anonymous complaints against a single person can lead the school to investigate.
If you've been accused of Title IX sexual misconduct, your accuser may provide their name in the complaint but request that their identity not be revealed to you. When this happens, the Title IX coordinator must conduct the investigation in a way that respects the complainant's wish but also balances your right to a fair hearing.
It can be even more challenging to defend yourself in a Title IX investigation against a confidential accuser. Your Title IX advisor can help you navigate this process.
Are Parents Notified of College Misconduct Cases?
If you are a minor, yes. If you are an adult over 18 years old, no.
When a Title IX complaint for sexual misconduct is filed against you in college, your school's Title IX coordinator will contact you directly, usually through email.
Many students understandably don't want to tell their families about being the subject of a Title IX complaint for sexual misconduct. They may be worried about how their families may react. However, you should consider telling your parents or another support system, if possible. It's difficult to go through the Title IX process alone. The more help you have, the better.
A good Title IX advisor will not just help you, but your parents, too. Joseph D. Lento helps both students and their families understand the Title IX process.
What Are the Penalties for Title IX Sexual Misconduct Violations?
Title IX penalties for sexual misconduct can have serious consequences for your education and career. If your school finds you responsible for sexual misconduct under Title IX, they can impose a range of sanctions – anything from a reprimand to expulsion.
When determining sanctions against a student in violation of Title IX, your school will look at:
- The severity of the incident
- What kind of penalties have been imposed for similar incidents
- Any other violations on your disciplinary record
- Any additional misconduct during the Title IX investigative process (such as intimidating the complainant or witnesses, tampering with evidence)
If you are found in violation of multiple charges of sexual misconduct, that will often reflect in your penalty. For example, if you have two violations that each carry 12 months of disciplinary probation, your probation would last for 24 months.
Most colleges and universities detail their Title IX disciplinary policies and penalties in their student code of conduct or on their website. In the interest of fairness, schools try to be consistent in their application, with similar sanctions for similar incidents. Although no two cases are ever exactly the same, an experienced Title IX advisor can help you understand what types of sanctions you can expect based on your school and the accusations you're facing.
Title IX sanctions for sexual misconduct can include:
- A written warning or reprimand (rare for sexual misconduct cases)
- Restrictions on access to space on campus, such as university housing
- Disciplinary probation (anywhere between 3 months to 4 years)
- Campus community service or mandatory counseling
- Suspension or expulsion from school
Disciplinary probation usually means that you are put on warning and subject to stricter rules and scrutiny on campus. If you get another disciplinary violation during probation, you could face greater penalties like suspension or expulsion.
Unfortunately, many students and parents fail to understand the gravity of Title IX accusations until after sanctions have been applied by their school. Once this happens, you can appeal the decision. However, it's much harder to get a favorable resolution to your Title IX case after sanctions have been taken against you.
What Are the Additional Impacts of Sanctions?
Many schools impose sanctions as soon as the disciplinary process ends. Most schools aim to complete the Title IX process within 60 days.
If you get suspended or expelled because your school's disciplinary process found you responsible for sexual misconduct, your sanctions become effective immediately. That means you'll probably lose all of your credits for that semester, any tuition you've paid, and payments you've made for room and board. This is true even if the semester only has a few days left.
Schools may list additional sanctions in their student handbook. For example, your school's sanctions might also prohibit you from participating in organizations or clubs.
Can I Be Suspended or Expelled for Title IX Sexual Misconduct?
Yes. Suspension and expulsion are both possible sanctions given to students found responsible for Title IX sexual misconduct. In fact, suspension and expulsion are common outcomes for Title IX cases because sexual misconduct is such a serious charge.
A suspension could last anywhere from one semester to years. You may not be allowed to come back onto campus until your accuser has graduated. An expulsion can leave you scrambling to apply to another college or university that will take you with your disciplinary record.
If you get suspended or expelled as a result of your Title IX case, you will most likely have to leave campus immediately upon receiving your sanctions. That means any credits you've earned or classes you've taken that semester would be lost. You may end up forfeiting any payments you've made for tuition and board for the semester. Appealing the sanctions against you can be even more challenging if you're required to leave campus.
The best course of action is to hire a lawyer before sanctions have been taken against you. If your school has already given you sanctions, you can also appeal them.
Can a Title IX Complaint Affect My Scholarship?
Yes. Many scholarships require certain standards of conduct. Title IX disciplinary sanctions may lead to students losing their merit scholarships, athletic scholarships, or financial aid.
Whether you're facing sanctions or you need to appeal them, a Title IX advisor can help make the difference in the outcome of your case. Call (888) 535-3686 now for a Title IX consultation.
What Are Title IX Interim Measures?
Many Title IX incidents happen between students whose activities, classes, or social circles overlap in some way. The allegations can be upsetting and polarizing. As a result, Title IX cases can be extremely disruptive for everyone involved.
In order to isolate the parties from each other and reduce conflict during the investigation process, schools have broad authority to enact interim measures or “interim actions.”
Title IX interim measures are short-term actions put in place to ensure safety and fairness for everyone involved in the complaint process. They do not determine responsibility. They can be enacted quickly, at any time, even before or without a report being filed. Colleges and universities may take interim measures even if the complainant doesn't ask for them.
In most Title IX cases, interim measures are put in place on behalf of the complainant. Common types of interim measures include:
- No-contact orders issued and enforced by your college or university
- Restrictions to visiting cafeterias, gyms, libraries, or other common areas
- Changes to course, work, or activity schedules
- Changes to housing or dining circumstances
- Academic accommodations like extensions or class adjustments
- Leaves of absence
Historically, Title IX encouraged schools to put the burden of interim measures on the respondent. Whenever there was a conflict, most schools would disrupt the respondent's life over the complainant. If they both lived in the same dorm, the accused party would be the one to move. If they both took the same class, the accused might be required to switch out.
Recently, Title IX guidance has shifted and interim measures must now be “symmetrical,” with the burden shared by both sides. Colleges and universities must not discriminate in how they apply interim measures in Title IX proceedings. That means the same interim measures that are available to one side must be available to the other.
Usually, colleges and universities will work with the students involved in Title IX cases to tailor any interim measures to their individual needs. Still, interim measures can sometimes be vague, impractical, inconsistently enforced, or difficult to understand.
If you've been accused of Title IX sexual misconduct, it's crucial that you cooperate with any interim measures your school takes during the investigation. Violating an interim measure even by accident can reflect poorly on the outcome of your case. Because interim measures may be confusing or unclear, students often get reported without realizing they had violated a rule. Your Title IX advisor can help you understand any interim measures taken in your case.
Schools often have some kind of procedure to appeal interim measures. Although appeals usually don't work to lift measures taken against you, your Title IX advisor can ask for them to be relaxed or mitigated to make your life on campus more manageable.
What Is a Title IX No-Contact Order?
When a student finds out that they've been accused of sexual misconduct, they might think of clearing up the misunderstanding by contacting their accuser. This would be a mistake.
If you've been accused of sexual misconduct under Title IX, you should not contact your accuser in any way, whether in person, on the phone, or by text, email or other written means.
In an effort to cut down on conflicts during the Title IX investigation process, schools may put in place a no-contact order between the parties whether the complainant asks for it or not. No-contact orders can be issued at any time by campus security, your school's Title IX office, or other administrators – even if a complaint hasn't been filed.
Oftentimes, schools have little or no standards for how or why they issue no-contact orders. Students who ask for no-contact orders against another member of the academic community don't have to justify it as they do for civil or criminal restraining orders. On top of that, no-contact orders can be vague and hard to interpret.
For example, a no-contact order may forbid one student from being “in the vicinity” of another. “Vicinity” can mean different things to different people. Are you allowed in the same building? What about across the street? Or school events where your accuser may also attend?
No-contact orders also apply to third parties. That means you can get in trouble if a friend or family member tries to contact your accuser on your behalf, whether you asked them to or not.
You could get reported for violating a no-contact order without even meaning to. That could undermine your integrity and cause problems in the outcome of your Title IX case. The best way to avoid these kinds of missteps is to speak to a Title IX advisor who can interpret your school's no-contact order and advise you on the best way forward.
If you're facing a no-contact order on campus, your Title IX advisor can work with your school to clarify the specifics and establish expectations on both sides. This is one of the first of many ways your Title IX advisor can protect your rights throughout the process.
How Do Title IX Investigations Work?
What can you expect if you've been charged with a Title IX complaint for sexual misconduct?
Under Title IX, schools are required to carry out a prompt and fair investigation that respects the rights of everyone involved. As a result, most schools have some sort of formal process in place to provide the appropriate due process.
Schools that fail to properly investigate Title IX complaints risk losing their federal funding. For many academic institutions, that could mean upwards of millions of dollars in grants, vouchers, and tax credits. Most schools complete the entire Title IX disciplinary process within 60 days.
Upon receiving federal funding, schools must appoint a Title IX coordinator. Your school's Title IX coordinator acts as the main point of contact for all Title IX questions, investigations, and compliance issues. Larger colleges and universities will usually have more than one Title IX specialist on staff or an entire dedicated office.
Once a complaint has been filed against you, the Title IX investigatory process begins. Your school's Title IX coordinator must notify all the parties involved, appoint investigators to your case, and start the formal investigation.
The Title IX investigatory process has several different phases:
1. Notify All Parties of the Complaint and Investigation
Once your school's Title IX office receives a complaint, they must notify all the parties involved that a complaint has been filed and an investigation will begin.
The Title IX notice must include:
- Information about the school's investigatory process
- Details about the allegations in the complaint
- The school policy violated by the alleged behavior
- The rights of both parties in the process
- Contact information for the investigator assigned to the case
At this point, the Title IX investigator assigned to your case will schedule your intake meeting.
As soon as you find out that you are the subject of a Title IX investigation for sexual misconduct, you should get in contact with a Title IX advisor. The earlier you talk to someone who specializes in defending Title IX cases, the better your chances for a good outcome.
2. Gather Facts and Evidence
Once the investigation begins, your Title IX investigator will gather facts and evidence about the incident. Evidence can include documents, emails, files, audio or video recordings, texts, direct messages, social media posts, and cell phone records.
The Title IX investigator will also interview both the complainant and the respondent and any appropriate witnesses. Your first interview in the Title IX process is called your intake meeting.
At the intake meeting, your investigator will gather information about the incident and determine whether interim measures would be appropriate. You should bring any relevant documents and a list of all possible witnesses who can be called on in your defense.
You are allowed to bring your Title IX advisor to your intake meeting. This is important because your intake meeting sets the tone for the rest of the investigation and your advisor can help you communicate your best defense to the investigator. If your advisor is a Title IX lawyer, they can also help you avoid saying anything that could expose you to civil or criminal charges.
3. Disciplinary Hearings
A Title IX disciplinary hearing can be called at the discretion of the Title IX office. Title IX hearings are objective fact-finding committees selected by the Title IX coordinator.
At your disciplinary hearing, the panel will review the initial complaint, any responses or cross complaints, any witness statements, and all other evidence available. You may be allowed to bring witnesses and have the opportunity to speak on your own behalf.
Because charges of sexual misconduct are so serious and can lead to criminal consequences, you are allowed to have your Title IX advisor with you at your hearing.
4. Allow Both Parties to Review the Information
The investigator will collect evidence over the course of 2-3 weeks. When finished, they will provide both the complainant and respondent the chance to review the information for accuracy.
This is a crucial step in the process. After this point, the investigator will determine whether or not you are responsible for a Title IX violation. If you fail to review the information for any missing pieces, you may lose the chance to establish your innocence.
The investigator and the Title IX disciplinary hearing will also determine sanctions based on this information. This is your chance to include all mitigating evidence in your defense.
5. Decide Whether a Violation Has Occurred
Once both parties have reviewed the information, the Title IX investigator will decide whether a violation has occurred based on all the available evidence.
To be responsible for a Title IX claim of sexual misconduct, the evidence must show that the allegations “are more likely than not to have happened.” This standard of proof is called the preponderance of the evidence.
6. Prepare the Final Investigation Report
After determining responsibility, the Title IX investigator must put together a final investigation report. This report must include:
- The initial allegations
- The school policy that was violated
- The parties involved in the complaint
- The evidence gathered in the investigation
- A summary of witness interviews and any other relevant information
The final investigation report usually includes the investigator's determination of responsibility and any sanctions they recommend based on the evidence they've gathered.
6. Notify All Parties of the Outcome
After completing the report, the Title IX investigator must notify all parties of the outcome. This will usually be a written notice that includes a summary of the evidence, reasons in support of the decision, and any next steps to be taken in the Title IX process.
7. Title IX Appeals and Administrative Reviews
After the Title IX investigation completes and everyone is notified of the results, the parties will have a chance to appeal the decision and request an administrative review.
In an appeal, a higher level of Title IX management will review your case. At the end of their review, they will issue a written decision with their findings.
Keep in mind that both parties have equal rights to an appeal under Title IX. That means if you are found not responsible for sexual misconduct, the complainant can appeal that decision.
8. Recommend Disciplinary Sanctions
If you are found responsible for a Title IX violation of sexual misconduct even after the appeals process, the school will enforce disciplinary sanctions against you.
In many schools, the Title IX investigator will present the final report to the disciplinary committee with their recommended sanctions. The committee will then decide whether or not to accept the investigator's decision and implement those sanctions.
Disciplinary sanctions can range anywhere from a reprimand (uncommon in most sexual misconduct cases) to disciplinary probation, suspension, and even expulsion. The severity of the sanctions will depend on the severity of the allegations against you.
Once the investigation ends, your sanctions apply immediately. That means you could be suspended or expelled even if the semester is days away from being over. You could lose your credits, tuition, and room and board for your current semester or school year. If you are suspended or expelled, you will have to leave campus right away.
How Do I Respond to a Title IX Investigation?
If you've been accused of sexual misconduct under Title IX, you may be confused and upset. You may want to ignore the process completely and hope that it resolves in your favor – especially if you believe yourself to be innocent of the charges. Unfortunately, your innocence may not protect you in a Title IX investigation.
One thing you should not do in response to a Title IX investigation is to contact your accuser. This is true whether or not a no-contact order is in place. Any contact you initiate with the complainant can be taken as a form of harassment or retaliation. Even if your accuser contacts you, any response you send could be used against you in your Title IX case.
The best course of action when facing Title IX charges of sexual misconduct is to contact an experienced Title IX advisor – preferably a lawyer – right away.
That's because the best strategy for a Title IX defense is to aim for a good result from the first level of disciplinary proceedings – before the case elevates to the level of sanctions or appeals. If you are found responsible for a Title IX violation, the sanctions are likely to be severe. Unfortunately, it's much more difficult to mitigate the damage to your education and career after sanctions have been taken against you by your school.
Why choose a lawyer for your Title IX defense? Because claims of sexual misconduct can actually have other legal consequences in civil or criminal court. A lawyer who specializes in Title IX cases can help you anticipate and avoid these additional legal problems.
Joseph D. Lento is a lawyer and Title IX specialist who fights for student rights. Call (888) 535-3686 now for a consultation of your Title IX case.
Do I Have to Cooperate With My School's Title IX Investigation?
No, you do not have to cooperate with your school's Title IX investigation. If you choose not to cooperate with the Title IX process, the investigation and case against you will continue without your participation. You won't have anyone speaking in your defense.
A Title IX allegation is not something you can ignore and is unlikely to go away on its own – even if you're innocent and you've been wrongly accused. It would be a mistake to simply assume that the investigation will uncover the truth and clear the charges against you. Before you know it, you could be facing sanctions that completely derail your life.
On the other hand, you don't want to talk to anyone about the investigation in a way that could incriminate you in the future. Statements you make in your own defense could backfire even if you're telling the truth and you believe the truth will exonerate you. Anything you say could be used against you in the Title IX process or even in civil or criminal court.
Title IX charges can be upsetting. The stakes are high, with potentially permanent consequences for your education and your career. The best way to protect your interests is to get a Title IX advisor to advocate for you as soon as possible.
Joseph D. Lento is a Title IX lawyer with over a decade of experience fighting for students wrongly accused of Title IX sexual misconduct on campus. When you hire Joseph for your Title IX defense, he becomes your Title IX point person and guide – the one you can trust to be on your side and look out for you at every point in the process.
Call the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 for a consultation of your Title IX case.
Should I Talk to School Administrators During My Title IX Investigation?
Once you've been notified that you are the subject of a Title IX complaint for sexual misconduct, you should not talk to your school's administrators or Title IX officers unless you've taken the proper precautions. This is true no matter what type of school disciplinary offense you're facing. Too much is at stake to act without getting legal advice first.
Sometimes schools offer students accused of misconduct an opportunity to speak with administrators in something called an “informal hearing.” In some schools, this may not even be called a “hearing.” They may refer to it as a “chat” or “informal meeting” with a school administrator about your case, usually a dean.
Always keep in mind that school representatives like deans, members of the administration, and Title IX officers have the school's interest in mind above all else. School administrators are not your advocates. They are dedicated to the school. They may claim to be there to help you, but their top priority is to make sure the school's Title IX process goes smoothly.
If you discuss your Title IX case with a school administrator before talking to your Title IX advisor first, you could:
- Incriminate yourself or admit responsibility without realizing
- Admit facts in a way that could end up being used against you
- Sign away your rights to due process or other legal protections
- Open yourself up to greater liability, including criminal charges
- Feel pressured to take an unfair deal because you're afraid a formal hearing will end up with a worse outcome for you
Most meetings with school administrators are not confidential. That means anything you say in the meeting could be used against you, even as evidence in a criminal trial.
Schools are often in a rush to judgment with Title IX cases. They feel pressured by the federal government and the media to treat cases involving sexual misconduct swiftly and harshly. Sometimes, schools may even fail to play by their own rules, throwing what little procedural protections they have for the accused out the window.
If you have the option to speak to a school administrator about your Title IX case, you should talk about it with your Title IX advisor first. Your advisor can help you weigh your options and understand your position. Because sexual misconduct charges are so significant, your Title IX advisor can even accompany you as your representative to meetings with school administrators. This is the best way to ensure your interests and rights are protected.
Should I Talk to Campus Security or Law Enforcement During My Title IX Investigation?
Similar to school administrators, you should be careful and take proper precautions before talking to campus security or law enforcement about anything related to your Title IX case.
You should absolutely consult a Title IX lawyer before talking to any law enforcement, even campus police. What you hear in television shows is true – anything you say to police can and will be used against you in a court of law. And criminal law carries even more severe penalties for sexual assault, with the possibility of fines, jail time, a criminal record, and sex offender registry. International students could lose their immigration status.
So much is at stake in sexual misconduct cases. You should never assume your innocence is enough to protect you from a wrongful accusation. You need a strong advocate on your side. Call the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 to get started on your defense.
What's the Standard of Proof in a Title IX Investigation?
Title IX requires schools to apply the “preponderance of the evidence” standard – was it more likely than not that sexual harassment or violence occurred?
In other words, are the accusations against you more than 50% likely to be true?
If the answer is determined to be yes, you will be found responsible for sexual misconduct.
The preponderance of the evidence standard is a low standard of proof. That means it's easier for you to be found responsible.
In contrast, criminal cases require that the defendant is found guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” This is a much higher standard of proof that's much harder to meet. Even civil cases have a clear and convincing standard – “substantially more likely than not to be true.” These standards of proof exist to protect the defendant with the proper due process.
Unfortunately, out of all of these types of cases, the Title IX “preponderance of the evidence” standard is the lowest standard of proof. That means it's much easier to find you responsible for sexual misconduct in a Title IX proceeding than it is in a civil or criminal case.
Your Title IX advisor can help you build a case to beat this standard of proof.
What Is Title IX Due Process?
The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that no one can be “deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law.”
Due process is a critical piece of American law. Under due process, you have certain constitutional rights and procedural protections that ensure you get a fair trial in court. In civil and criminal law, due process exists to guarantee fair application of the law to anyone before they can be punished. Generally, due process entitles the defendant to:
- Notice of the charges they are facing
- An explanation of the evidence against them
- A chance to present their side of the story in front of an impartial decision-maker
Administrative proceedings have fewer protections than civil or criminal court proceedings.
The amount of process required of schools is far less than civil or criminal trials. The way some schools carry out Title IX proceedings can end up disadvantaging the accused. Some argue that many campus Title IX procedures don't meet the standards of due process set forth in American law, especially considering the stakes of a sexual misconduct charge.
In some cases, the lack of due process is so severe that hundreds of students have filed Title IX lawsuits after their experience having to respond to a Title IX complaint.
Title IX's due process problems occur as a result of:
- Vague language and changing government guidance that leaves the law open to interpretation, and
- Panicked over-compliance by colleges and universities who don't want to lose their federal funding or end up in the media for failing to act.
This can lead to a perfect storm where students wrongly accused of sexual misconduct can get swift and severe sanctions from their school – up to and including expulsion. With consequences this serious, a lack of due process could lead to a terrible failure of justice.
In theory, Title IX requires schools to conduct all Title IX procedures in a way that is prompt and equitable. In 2011, the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) wrote that schools must carry out an “adequate, reliable, and impartial investigation of complaints, including the opportunity for both parties to present witnesses and other evidence.”
A proper Title IX investigation provides strong procedural protections for both parties. These include but are not limited to:
- Clear and timely notice to everyone involved regarding the facts of the complaint, procedural expectations, and all rights and responsibilities under school policy or law
- Advance notice of any meetings or hearings parties are required or able to attend
- The chance to review the evidence in the case file, with enough time to respond
- Access to legal counsel and a Title IX advisor
- Investigators who are impartial, thorough, prompt, and appropriately trained in handling sexual misconduct cases
- The opportunity to provide testimony at a hearing, review the other side's testimony, submit evidence, and recommend witnesses
- All findings of responsibility reviewed by a panel of objective and properly trained decision-makers under the preponderance of the evidence standard
- Sanctions that are fair and appropriate considering the facts
- A written explanation of the outcome of the case, including all findings of responsibility, sanctions, and appeals
- A chance for both parties to appeal the decision
The earlier you contact an experienced Title IX lawyer, the better they can help protect your rights throughout the entire investigative process.
If you were accused of sexual misconduct under Title IX and your school failed to give you the proper due process, you should talk to a Title IX lawyer as soon as possible.
Recently, the federal government has drafted new rules for Title IX due process. Although these rules have not been formally adopted, they include:
- Easing the 60-day rule in favor of a “reasonably prompt timeframe”
- Providing both sides time to prepare for disciplinary hearings or interviews
- Equal access to evidence in the case
Because these newly proposed rules have not been signed into policy yet, these protections are not guaranteed. A good Title IX attorney is your best defense against due process violations. Call (888) 535-3686 to talk to an experienced Title IX advisor about your case today.
Will I Get Due Process in my Title IX Case?
In theory, yes. You are due a certain amount of process to ensure a fair outcome in your Title IX case. But the standard of due process for Title IX cases is much lower than in the civil or criminal justice system. So you may not have as many protections as you'd think.
In reality, whether you get proper due process depends on your school.
- What is the current Title IX climate at your school? If your school has come under fire recently (either on campus, by the media, or under investigation by the Department of Education) for failing to properly investigate allegations of sexual misconduct, the administration may feel pressured to judge them more severely moving forward.
- How organized are your school's Title IX procedures? How much training did the Title IX officers and disciplinary committee members get? Schools with solid operations in place are more likely to have safeguards to protect students' rights.
- How fair and balanced are your school's Title IX policies? Do they favor one party over the other in protocol or enforcement?
Whatever your school's track record may be on due process, the best way to ensure your rights are protected is to hire an experienced Title IX attorney-advisor.
Without a Title IX expert to guide you through the process, you may not even know what rights you have or when those rights are being violated. You can't fight effectively for yourself if you don't know all the rules. Your Title IX advisor can fight that battle for you.
If your school fails to give you the proper due process in your Title IX case, you could file a due process lawsuit against the institution. Title IX due process lawsuits are currently on the rise throughout the country. More and more students and families believe their rights have been ignored or trampled over the course of their school's Title IX investigation. They're speaking out and their cases are changing the Title IX landscape.
How Do I File a Title IX Due Process Lawsuit?
Title IX due process lawsuits are on the rise across the United States. These lawsuits are filed in civil court against schools by students whose lives were destroyed by sexual assault accusations without a meaningful chance to fight the case.
A finding of responsibility for sexual misconduct can affect your ability to complete your education or pursue a career in your desired field. More than 480 students have filed Title IX lawsuits against their colleges and universities since 2011. They claim that their school's Title IX process was fundamentally unfair and came to an erroneous finding of responsibility.
Title IX due process issues come up because:
- Federal policy puts so much pressure on schools to fight against sexual misconduct on campus, with millions of dollars of funding at stake, and
- It's up to each individual school how to implement Title IX policy, so your particular school's procedures may be flawed or biased.
These lawsuits claim serious issues with the way Title IX cases are handled on campuses nationwide. Examples of problems include:
- Schools failing to consider evidence proving the innocence of the accused
- Members of the disciplinary panel failing to read the investigative report
- Committee members asking questions that assume the respondent's guilt
- Respondent is unable to even see the investigative report or evidence against them
In many of these cases, the school determined responsibility based on the accusation, not the evidence. Students accused of Title IX misconduct were treated as if guilty from the beginning.
Title IX sanctions can be devastating. If you're held responsible for sexual misconduct, you could be suspended or kicked out of a school you worked your whole life to attend. The charges will show up on your permanent record for any other schools or employers to see. Your whole future is at stake – which is why due process is so important.
Many Title IX due process lawsuits settle early on, without going to court. Universities will settle with accused students to cover any losses in tuition and housing when they were suspended or expelled. If your lawsuit is successful, you may even be reinstated back to school and get the charges erased from your permanent record.
If you've been accused of sexual misconduct under Title IX, you have rights. That includes the right to an advisor to help defend yourself. Joseph D. Lento is an experienced Title IX lawyer with a decade of experience fighting for student rights. He is the advocate you want in your corner during the Title IX process. Call (888) 535-3686 for a case consultation today.
Should I File a Lawsuit Before the Title IX Process Is Over?
The answer to this question depends on the specifics of your case.
You could file a lawsuit before your Title IX investigation is over. In many cases, this may not be as effective as other options for mitigating and correcting due process issues within your school's Title IX process. Your attorney-advisor can help you take best advantage of these options while you can as long as your Title IX investigation is ongoing.
In some cases, it may be necessary and appropriate to take some kind of legal intervention against your school. Rather than filing a lawsuit, you could file a preliminary injunction or take other legal steps to address concerns you're having with your school's Title IX investigation.
A due process lawsuit can be costly both in terms of time and money. It can be much more effective to aim for a positive outcome in your Title IX case before filing a due process lawsuit. An experienced attorney-advisor can help you decide your best course of action. Ideally, you will contact a Title IX attorney to help you from the very beginning of your Title IX case.
Can I File a Title IX Complaint for Unfair Treatment?
Yes. Students have actually filed “reverse Title IX” gender discrimination complaints, where they argue that their school's Title IX procedures are biased against men.
These complaints can be filed with the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. They can also be filed as lawsuits in civil court.
A “reverse Title IX” complaint usually claims that:
- The school's Title IX adjudication and investigation process was flawed,
- The flaws occurred because of gender bias, and
- The school erroneously found the student responsible for sexual misconduct.
More and more of these lawsuits are making their way to court. After losing the chance to continue their education at their school, students sue for damages such as tuition and board, reinstatement back to school, and/or clearing up their student records.
Unfair treatment and gender bias can appear in a number of ways. Your Title IX investigator or your school's disciplinary panel may fail to protect you by:
- Acting out of accordance with their own designated procedures
- Declining to interview witnesses favorable to the accused
- Reaching a decision that's contrary to the weight of the evidence
If you experienced gender bias or discrimination during your Title IX investigation,