Students accused of sexual misconduct in college and university settings should be aware of their rights under Title IX. Here are a few rights that student respondents may forget they have during an investigation:
You have the right to have your name and information related to an alleged offense kept as confidential as reasonably possible.
When a report of sexual misconduct has been filed, the school must only disclose information about the incident to the parties involved. Throughout the entire investigation process, schools must exhaust all reasonable efforts to protect your privacy and confidentiality.
In some circumstances, absolute confidentiality cannot be guaranteed. When the school makes a decision to inform the campus community about the identity of a respondent, it is because it felt an obligation to protect the safety of others.
You have the right to an advisor.
Almost all schools allow you to choose anyone of your liking to serve as your advisor. The person who occupies this role will assist you through the internal investigation process, and help you defend yourself at during an investigation and/or hearing. It's important to note that although you have a right to an advisor, the extent of their participation in the process is dependent both on your respective institution and your advisor's ability to diplomatically obtain favorable consideration on an accused student's behalf. Some schools let an advisor be active enough to speak in some circumstances, while other schools prefer they not speak on your behalf at all. Check your school's student handbook or code of conduct to see your school's parameters for advisor participation. The most important consideration is that the choice of your advisor can mean the difference between a favorable outcome and an outcome that can, unfortunately, be impossible to overcome both in terms of short and long-term consequences.
The difference an experienced advisor can make who is solely dedicated to an accused student's cause cannot be emphasized enough. Ultimately, the stakes are always high when accused of Title IX sexual misconduct and your advisor must be up for the challenge. An experienced Title IX advisor will know how to be afforded favorable consideration on a student's behalf through all stages of the disciplinary process. An experienced advisor will also be able to address concerns with the school and necessary parties which arise through the course of the proceedings, whether it is during the investigation, hearing, or appeal. Accused students and their families must also be aware that an experienced advisor can potentially negotiate accommodations or resolutions with necessary parties at the school in an effort to achieve the most favorable outcome possible based on the circumstances at hand; these parties can include the Title IX coordinator, the school's attorney and/or Office of General Counsel, and other administrators.
You have the right to receive information about the status of investigation.
Your Title IX Coordinator is supposed to provide you with updates regarding your institution's investigative and adjudicative process. You are to also receive notification of the outcome of the investigation, the sanctions imposed, and the appeal rights that are available to you.
You have the right to be free from retaliation.
Once you've been accused of an offense as egregious and stigmatized as sexual misconduct, people begin to treat you differently. Even before you've been found “responsible” for this crime, the belief that you are innocent until proven guilty oftentimes goes out the window in the minds of many people in society. People want someone to blame, and it isn't appropriate to blame the victim, so people presume your guilt. If someone were to act in retaliation based on this presumption of guilt, you don't have to endure it. Your school is obligated to protect you.
You have the right to seek counseling services.
Being accused of sexual misconduct may have psychological and emotional effects on the accused. Some people may have trouble coping with condemnation from society, feel isolated, and experience depression or thoughts of suicide. If you recognize you need help, don't hesitate to utilize the counseling services at your school.
Title IX Attorney Helping Clients Nationwide
If you have had your rights infringed by your college or university, there are several courses of action you can take. National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento can help determine the best resolution for you. Contact him online or give him a call at 888-535-3686 for assistance.