If you are a student who has been accused of sexual misconduct, it's important that you understand the processes you will undergo due to these allegations. For the purposes of this article, we will provide a brief overview of St. John's College's Title IX Policy.
Title IX Process
The college will take all appropriate steps to investigate and resolve complaints and sexual misconduct within 60 days of receiving a complaint.
Filing a complaint
Any allegations of sexual misconduct involving a member of the St. John's College community should be reported to the campus Title IX coordinator. In fact, the institution has implemented guidelines that obligate school employees, known as “responsible employees,” to report any instances of alleged misconduct that they've heard of or witnessed on campus.
In the midst of Title IX processes, there are terms that a Title IX coordinator and school authorities will use to reference all the parties involved in a complaint. An individual who identifies as a victim/survivor will be called a “complainant.” In some cases, schools may fulfill the role of a complainant. As a person who has been accused of exhibiting the alleged misconduct, you will be referred to as a “respondent.” Once a report has been filed, the Title IX process will immediately begin.
Once a Title IX coordinator receives word of alleged misconduct, his or her main concern is with keeping a complainant safe from retaliation. In order to successfully do so, interim measures may be imposed to separate complainants and respondents throughout the course of the Title IX process. Some of the remedies imposed on a respondent may include:
- Adjustments to academic deadlines, course schedules etc.
- The implementation of a no-contact order (no electronic, verbal or third party communication)
- Alternative housing situations
- Alternative work arrangements
- Temporary leave of absence etc.
The investigation phase
There are several aspects of the investigation process that will ensue. The preponderance of evidence standard - a finding that it is more likely than not that the alleged sexual misconduct occurred or did not occur - is used to dictate the determination of responsibility.
When a complaint is filed, an investigator will conduct a preliminary investigation to assess whether a violation of policy actually did occur. A meeting between a complainant and investigators will be conducted so that school authorities can get a basic understanding of the alleged misconduct. Factors that will influence the decision of proceeding with the process would be the presence of a weapon, violence, the age of the complainant, a respondent's disciplinary history etc.
This is a more thorough and in-depth gathering of facts. This part of the process is crucial in finding a resolution for a complaint. The complainant, respondent, and witnesses who may know relevant information will be interviewed. After all the interviews are completed, appointed investigators will create an investigative finding to present to a Title IX coordinator. If there is sufficient evidence that a violation may have occurred, a hearing will be scheduled.
This is the last opportunity for both sides to tell both sides of their story. A panel will listen to testimony, witness accounts and final statements, deliberate, and come up with a determination of responsibility and recommended sanction(s) (if applicable).
Respondents who disagree with a determination or sanction conjured up by a school are granted the option of requesting an appeal. An appeal essentially urges schools to reconsider their decision. However, in order for an appeal to be granted, it must be based on reasonable grounds. Proper grounds for an appeal include:
- New evidence has surfaced that was unavailable during the time of an investigation or hearing
- The sanctions imposed are disproportionate to the severity of a violation
- A procedural error occurred that significantly impacted the outcome of a hearing
Students have ten business days after a determination to submit an appeal.
Title IX Advisor
Selecting an attorney to occupy the role of an advisor has proven to be beneficial to many students who have been in your shoes. Contact skilled attorney Joseph D. Lento to maximize the likelihood of a favorable hearing outcome.