Federal law Title IX prohibits sexual misconduct on federally funded campuses. Being accused of sexual assault, sexual harassment, rape, or any other form of sexual misconduct at Pace University is a Title IX violation that your school must resolve. If you are found “responsible” for this conduct, you could be exposed to pretty serious repercussions that could jeopardize your plans to graduate.
For the purposes of this article, we'll address PU's disciplinary process and why you need an attorney if you find yourself in this predicament.
Pace University's Disciplinary Process
Under Title IX, Pace University is required to adjudicate any cases of sexual misconduct brought to the institution's attention. The Department of Education urges compliant higher education institutions like PU to respond to these accusations in a manner that is prompt and effective. If the university fails to do so, its federal funding is at stake. Complainants (the reporter of the complaint) and especially respondents (the person accused of sexual misconduct) should understand that their school will approach their case with the utmost seriousness, and each party should follow suit.
Complaints of sexual misconduct may be made verbally or in writing to the Title IX Coordinator/Affirmative Action Officer, but complainants are encouraged to file a written complaint. The complaint is to include the names of the people involved, the names of witnesses, a detailed description of the alleged conduct, when and where the conduct occurred, and relevant evidence of correspondence (text messages, emails, social media, etc).
There is no statute of limitations with respect to filing a complaint of an alleged incident. However, complainants are encouraged to report a violation as soon as possible.
After a complaint is filed, the Title IX Coordinator/Affirmative Action Officer will decide whether the said complaint is within the scope of PU's Title IX policy, or simply put, if the actions described constitute an actual violation. This decision is made prior to an investigation and is a major factor in if the case moves to the investigatory phase of the process, hence why it's called a “preliminary determination.” If the complaint doesn't constitute the university's policy under a Title IX Coordinator/Affirmative Action Officer's discretion, the preliminary determination will be that the complaint is dismissed. If a violation is plausible, an investigation will shortly ensue.
The Title IX Coordinator/Affirmative Action Officer will then inform both the complainant and respondent in writing that the investigation has begun. Both parties will be provided with a copy of PU's policy and procedure.
During the course of an investigation, an investigator will:
- Give the respondent proper notice of the complaint and investigation and provide him or her an opportunity to render information
- Interview the complainant, the respondent, and any material witnesses
- Gather all relevant documentary and/or physical evidence
- Complete the investigation in a timely manner, without unnecessary deviation from the intended timeline
- Maintain communication with the complainant and the respondent on the status of the investigation and overall process
An investigation report compiled of the investigator's findings throughout the process will be submitted to each party and the ultimate Decision Maker.
It's important to note that either party has the ability to object to the participation of this particular investigator, based on facts suggesting that there's a conflict of interest or if they are unable to fulfill his or her responsibilities in an impartial manner.
The Decision Maker will then issue written notification of his or her's determination within 7 calendar days of receiving the investigation report. If the Decision Maker's determination concludes that the findings didn't have sufficient evidence or fact, the complaint will be dismissed for good. On the other hand, if the determination concludes that the respondent is “responsible” for the misconduct detailed in a complaint, sanctions will be imposed.
Students have within 5 calendar days of the date of receipt of the decision to file a written appeal to an Appeal Officer. The appeal must include a detailed statement that highlights the grounds upon which the appeal is based. The sole grounds for a respondent appeal are often as follows:
- The finding was not based on a preponderance of evidence
- Material evidence exists that wasn't available to the investigator or the Decision Maker throughout the Title IX process
- There was a substantial procedural error made in the process
- There was a conflict of interest
- The disciplinary measures to be taken against the respondent are excessive
New York Title IX Attorney
If you've been accused of sexual misconduct, you can choose anyone to be your advisor in the Title IX process. It would be in your best interest to choose an attorney who can help you effectively navigate the process and build a solid defense for you. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today for help.