Title IX of the Education Amendments is a federal law that prohibits sexual misconduct in federally funded colleges and universities. Being accused of sexual assault, sexual harassment, rape, or any other form of sexual misconduct at Saint Thomas Aquinas College 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 Saint Thomas Aquinas College's disciplinary process and why you need an attorney-advisor if you find yourself in this predicament.
Saint Thomas Aquinas College's Disciplinary Process
According to Title IX, Saint Thomas Aquinas College is required to adjudicate any cases of sexual misconduct brought to the institution's attention. The Department of Education urges compliant higher education institutions to respond to these accusations in a manner that is prompt and equitable. If the school 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.
Filing a Complaint
Complaints and reports should be made as soon as possible after an accident. Options for filing a report include:
- Anonymous and third-party reporting: the Title IX Coordinator and Campus Safety accept anonymous and third-party reports of conduct alleged to violate this policy and will follow up on such reports.
- Confidential reporting: if a complainant would like the details of an incident to be kept confidential, he or she may speak with counselors, health service providers, complainant services advocates, and other members of the campus community who are permitted by law to maintain confidentiality (except in extreme cases).
- Private reporting: Reports to college employees will be treated with the maximum possible privacy. If a complainant isn't sure of a resource's ability to maintain privacy, he or she is advised to ask this resource before talking to them.
- Formal reporting: You may report an incident to any College employee with whom you are comfortable speaking. They will connect you with the Title IX Coordinator to begin the adjudication process.
- Criminal reporting: If someone is in immediate danger or just became a victim of sexual misconduct, call 911.
If a complainant wishes to pursue a formal complaint or if the college determines an investigation is necessary, the Title IX Coordinator will assign an investigator to conduct an investigation. Investigations generally entail interviews with relevant parties and witnesses and the collection of other available evidence. At the conclusion of this process, a report/summary is prepared and submitted to the Title IX Coordinator.
The report compiled during an investigation will be sent to an Administrative Reviewer, who will complete the last phase of the process. The Administrative Reviewer is tasked with assessing complaints, factual summaries, or other written submissions, and after hearing and considering the accounts of the parties involved, recommend an outcome (the “responsibility” or a respondent). The administrative review is not a formal trial, but a session may be convened for all parties to attend.
Appeals of the decision of the Administrative Reviewer and/or sanctions determined by the Title IX Coordinator may be submitted by the complainant or the respondent, or both. All requests for appeal considerations must be submitted in writing to the Title IX Coordinator within three business days after the date of the final written notice.
The grounds for appeal are limited to the following:
- A procedural error or omission occurred that significantly impacted the outcome.
- There is new evidence, unknown or unavailable during the Administrative Review, that could substantially impact the finding or sanction. A summary of this new evidence and its potential impact upon the investigation must be included in the appeal.
- The sanctions imposed are substantially disproportionate to the severity of the violation.
New York Title IX Attorney
If you've been accused of sexual misconduct at Saint Thomas Aquinas College, 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 at 888-535-3686.