Sexual Misconduct Defense for University of Tennessee - Knoxville Students

Implemented within the Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX has had an immeasurable impact on college students accused of sexual wrongdoing. The amendment “protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.” Title IX cases are often more nuanced than this doctrine suggests.

The scope of Title IX has expanded since its introduction and now covers issues ranging from treatment of LGBTQI+ students to allegations of sexual violence. Under recent orders from the Biden Administration, the scope of Title IX could broaden even further in the near future.

All students should be aware of changes to Title IX—especially those students accused of sexual misconduct. Title IX policies underwent substantial alterations under both the Obama and Trump Administrations. The Biden Administrations issued an Executive Order in March 2021 ordering a comprehensive review of Title IX policies and their enforcement.

Title IX regulations are dense and complex. Frequent changes to Title IX further complicate matters. An attorney-advisor can explain Title IX in the simplest possible terms while defending you from an allegation of sexual misconduct.

What Is the Role of UT-Knoxville's Office of Title IX?

UT-Knoxville “does not discriminate on the basis of sex in our education programs or activities, including admissions and employment.” By refraining from discriminatory actions, the university remains in compliance with Title IX.

Like most major universities, UT-Knoxville employs a Title IX Coordinator to handle allegations of discrimination, sexual misconduct, and other complaints that fall under Title IX's purview. This office provides students information about Title IX, documents alleged Title IX violations, and provides other Title IX-related services.

The University of Tennessee follows the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s Social-Ecological Model for violence prevention. This model guides UT's sexual misconduct policies, education, investigation tactics, and adjudication processes.

The University of Tennessee provides its own Title IX-compliant policies covering:

  • Sexual harassment
  • Sexual assault
  • Dating violence
  • Stalking
  • Domestic violence
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Retaliation

These policies will determine how UT-Knoxville adjudicates your case.

What Offenses Fall Under UT's College Sexual Misconduct (CSM) Policies?

Several of UT-Knoxville's Title IX-related web pages refer you to the school's Policy on Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Dating & Domestic Violence, and Stalking. This policy applies to students, employees, and certain third-party contractors of the University of Tennessee.

UT-Knoxville continually updates this policy to remain compliant with federally mandated changes to Title IX. As of August 2021, acts prohibited by this policy include:

  • Rape
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Fondling
  • Statutory rape
  • Incest
  • Stalking
  • Dating violence
  • Domestic violence
  • Sexual harassment
  • Retaliation

Section 2.2 of the policy provides detailed definitions of these prohibited behaviors.

How the University of Tennessee-Knoxville Handles Allegations of Sexual Misconduct (Including Appeals)

Appendix C of UT-Knoxville's Policy on Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Dating & Domestic Violence, and Stalking (p.39) explains how the school handles allegations of sexual misconduct against students. The policy notes that disciplinary procedures are in compliance with “Title IX regulations, 34 C.F.R. 106.45, and Clery Act regulations, 34 C.F.R. § 668.46.”

The Title IX reporting and adjudication process generally involves:

1) The complainant filing a ‘Title IX Prohibited Conduct Complaint'

A Title IX Coordinator or other Title IX Official may record and document this complaint. When appropriate, the complainant may file a “Non-Title IX Prohibited Conduct Complaint.” A non-Title IX complaint may involve an alleged activity that occurs outside of the school's purview but violates the Student Code of Conduct.

2) Investigation of a Formal Complaint by an assigned investigator

The investigation will begin no more than three days after the Office of Title IX receives the initial complaint.When the investigation concludes, the investigator will provide an investigative report to you, the complainant, and the disciplinary board. The report will include the investigator's determination of your culpability.

You will have ten days to respond to this report. The investigator may adjust their findings based on your response.

3) Possible dismissal of your complaint

UT-Knoxville must dismiss your Title IX complaint (under Federal law) if:

  • The alleged behaviors (even if true) do not meet the definition of sexual harassment, or:
  • The alleged behaviors “did not occur in the University's “education program or activity,” or:
  • The alleged behaviors did not happen in the United States

The school may also dismiss your complaint per the complainant's request or if the complainant de-enrolls from UT-Knoxville. Other circumstances may also trigger the dismissal of your case.

4) A Formal Hearing

Unless you agree to an informal resolution, then you will face a Title IX Hearing. You may generally present evidence, witness accounts, and oral arguments during this hearing. Your lawyer may not be able to speak on your behalf but may accompany you to the hearing and advise you throughout.

5) An appeal

You must file a Notice of Appeal within five days of receiving a decision from a Title IX Hearing Officer. UT's Student Conduct & Community Standards (SCCS) team will process your appeal. UT-Knoxville's Vice Chancellor for Student Life will rule on your appeal.

The standard of proof in UT-Knoxville's disciplinary proceedings is the preponderance of the evidence. If your adjudicators determine that it is more likely you committed the offense than not, then you will be deemed responsible.

What Is at Stake With a Sexual Misconduct Allegation?

UT-Knoxville lists possible sanctions for prohibited misconduct as:

  • Expulsion
  • Suspension (immediate or deferred)
  • Withholding of your degree
  • Disciplinary probation
  • Social probation
  • Removal from student housing
  • Other serious consequences

Expulsion is a realistic outcome for your case, especially if your defense is inadequate. Even if you remain enrolled at UT-Knoxville, sanctions stemming from alleged sexual misconduct may follow you indefinitely—in graduate school applications, job interviews, and your personal life.

The stigma of sanctions for sexual misconduct is something you should avoid. Employing an attorney-advisor is the least you can do to defend yourself.

Why Hire a Skilled Attorney-Advisor for Your Case?

This line from UT's disciplinary policies is critical:

“The Complainant and the Respondent have the right to be assisted by an advisor during all stages of a disciplinary proceeding, including all meetings, investigative interviews, and hearings. The advisor may be, but is not required to be, an attorney.

Sexual misconduct allegations may mar your personal reputation forever. Isn't this sufficient reason to hire an attorney-advisor for your case?

Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm specialize in college student defense involving Title IX issues. Attorney Lento and his team know the obligations of universities when handling Title IX issues and sexual misconduct allegations in particular. The Lento Law Firm will provide a vigorous defense of your rights. Call us today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your circumstances. You may also submit your case online.

Contact Us Today!


If you, or your student, are facing any kind of disciplinary action, or other negative academic sanction, and are having feelings of uncertainty and anxiety for what the future may hold, contact the Lento Law Firm today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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