If you have been accused of sexual misconduct, it's crucial that you understand the processes that you will undergo due to these allegations. For the purposes of this article, we will provide a brief overview Mount St. Mary's University's Title IX Policy.
Title IX Process
Mount St. Mary's University aims to resolve all Title IX complaints within 60 business days. However, this timeline may be extended if more time is necessary to come to a resolution.
Filing a Complaint
In the midst of Title IX processes, school authorities, the Title IX coordinator and anyone else who you will interact with will use certain terms to characterize you and your accuser. An individual who identifies as a victim/survivor will be referred to as a “complainant.” In some cases, a school will take on the role of a complainant. Since you are the one being accused of this alleged misconduct, you will be labeled as a “respondent.”
All members of the Mount St. Mary's University community are encouraged to report any instances of behavior that they see, witness, or experience to the school. Campus employees, known as “responsible employees,” have mandatory reporting obligations to the school in the event that they see or hear of any behavior in relation to sexual misconduct. The failure of them to do so could lead to repercussions. Whichever way this alleged misconduct is reported, the school must respond to these allegations promptly, by immediately initiating the Title IX Process.
Once a Title IX coordinator receives word of the alleged misconduct, his or her priority is to ensure that a complainant is safe from retaliation - another serious violation of school policy. In order to redress harm, the following remedies may imposed upon a respondent:
- Alternative work arrangements
- Adjustments to academic deadlines, course schedules etc.
- The implementation of a no contact order
- Alternative housing situations
- Temporary leave of absence etc.
The investigation period
The school's Title IX coordinator will meet with a complainant to get a basic understanding of his or her account of events. Based on this short meeting, the coordinator will assess certain factors to determine if the process should continue, or if the complaint warrants no action. Factors such as the age of the complainant, the existence of violence, the use of a weapon, and the disciplinary history of a respondent will be considered.
This information is more in-depth, thorough and critical to developing a resolution. Complainants, respondents and witnesses will be interviewed to gather more facts and evidence about the alleged instance. Investigators appointed by the Title IX coordinator will, from this information, create an investigative finding that dictates whether or not there is enough sufficient evidence to continue the process with a hearing.
A hearing is each party's last and final chance to tell their side of the story. A hearing officer will listen to testimony, the presentation of evidence, cross-examinations (in some circumstances) and final statements to get a well-rounded idea of the account of events. Once both sides of the story have been told, the hearing officer will deliberate in a closed session and come up with a determination of responsibility using the preponderance of evidence standard.
If a respondent feels dissatisfied with a determination or sanction. He or she is allowed to request an appeal. This is essentially a request to get the school to reconsider its decision. A viable appeal is based upon the following grounds:
- A procedural error that occurred that significantly impacted the outcome of a hearing
- New evidence that was unavailable during the time of an investigation or hearing has surfaced
- The sanctions imposed are disproportionate to the severity of a violation
An appeal must be submitted within 3-5 days of notification of a determination.
Title IX Advisor
Choosing an attorney to accompany you through these processes will make all the difference in a case outcome. Contact skilled attorney Joseph D. Lento to help you level the playing field in a hearing.
Title IX violations and Title IX charges can change an accused student's life if not defended against properly and as early as possible during the disciplinary process, and Joseph D. Lento has nearly a decade of experience passionately fighting for the future of his clients at universities and colleges throughout the nation. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead, prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph Lento is a licensed attorney in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, is admitted as an attorney pro hac vice in state and federal court if needed when representing clients nationwide, and serves as a Title IX advisor to students facing disciplinary cases in Maryland and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Joseph D. Lento can help.