Most colleges and universities in the state of Rhode Island adhere to a federal law known as Title IX. Its primary function since its enactment in 1972 has been to resolve gender-related discrimination issues in higher education. Throughout the years, Title IX has been applied in a wide span of cases - to fix the disparity in opportunities for intercollegiate women athletes to the establishment of rights for pregnant women on campus. But recently, the law is addressed due to a much more pervasive issue: sexual misconduct.
When statistics revealed how rampant sexual assault and harassment had become in higher education, the nation was taken aback. It seemed like every day there was a new story about a student who had fallen victim to a perpetrator and received little to no retribution despite informing the school of the incident. Many college's lethargic responses to student concerns, as well as impactful movements like “Me Too” and “Time's Up, influenced the federal government's decision to require schools to promptly and fairly adjudicate cases of sexual misconduct. If higher education institutions drop the ball, they're met with the threat of having their federal funding stripped.
When you're accused, or otherwise named as a “respondent” in a Title IX case, you're already in for an uphill battle throughout the Title IX process. But yet another level of complexity is hurled into the process when you are a student-athlete. Allegations will not be taken lightly, and the stigma that accompanies the role of a respondent party will single-handedly turn your college and athletic experience upside down. To successfully navigate the Title IX process as a student-athlete and achieve due process, you absolutely need the help of an attorney-advisor. Here's why:
You Might Be Suspended Pending an Investigation
In the absence of specific guidelines, third parties like coaches and athletic directors have the discretion to make decisions that can drastically affect your collegiate athletic career. In many ways, the exposure of a student-athlete is solely in the hands of an athletic director, who may or not be motivated by the desire to maintain scandal-free programs.
Some schools have tried to resolve this issue by allowing administrators and deans to determine interim measures while under investigations rather than a coach or an athletic director. It's important you understand your school's rules regarding if and when you'll play while under investigation.
You Could Lose Your Scholarship
Because of pressure from lobbyists and advocacy groups, The NCAA is cracking down on student-athletes who are found responsible for sexual misconduct. Its Committee to Combat Sexual Violence has made a pledge to become stricter about barring college-athletes who have been found responsible for sexual misconduct from receiving athletic scholarships.
College Athletes are More Likely to be Named as Respondents in Title IX Complaints
According to an analysis by ESPN television program, Outside the Lines, college athletes are three times more likely than other students to be accused of sexual misconduct at Power 5 conference schools. The data provided that about 6.3 percent of Title IX complaints against students - whether the complaint resulted in a formal investigation or not - involved an athlete as the person accused of wrongdoing. Whether or not the student-athletes were found “responsible” for these accusations were not included in the study.
The findings of this analysis may not be all too surprising given the countless number of high-profile cases of sexual misconduct that have surfaced involving very prominent student-athletes. Nonetheless, this information should compel you to ensure that the adjudication process is as fair as it could possibly be.
Contact the Lento Law Firm Today
The only way to make sure your voice is heard and that your rights are protected in a Title IX investigation in Rhode Island to retain a student defense attorney. The assistance of an attorney-advisor is invaluable in the Title IX process, especially for respondents who are student-athletes. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has the skill and expertise to help you effectively navigate the process. For a case evaluation or for more information about his representation, contact him online or give him a call at 888-535-3686 today.
Rhode Island colleges and universities where Joseph D. Lento can help as your or your student athlete's Title IX advisor during investigations, hearings, and appeals include, but are not limited to, the following schools:
- Brown University
- Bryant University
- Community College of Rhode Island
- Johnson & Wales University – Providence
- Naval War College (exempt from Title IX and the Clery Act)
- New England Institute of Technology
- Providence College
- Rhode Island College
- Rhode Island School of Design
- Roger Williams University
- Salve Regina University
- University of Rhode Island
All students must be extremely mindful when accused of sexual misconduct at their college or university; student athletes in particular, however, can have even more concerns at all stage of Title IX proceedings because the stakes are higher yet – When first contacted by their school's Title IX office, when a sexual misconduct investigation begins, when facing a hearing or an appeal, or when seeking further recourse by filing a Title IX Department of Education Office of Civil Rights when necessary. For student athletes in Rhode Island who are facing a Title IX case and their families, it is critical to take the necessary precautions as soon as possible, including having an experienced attorney advisor, when accused of sexual misconduct. Unfortunately, many student athletes and their families, not being as familiar what is at stake and also their rights in the process, will mistakenly believe that if they "just explain what happened," everything will work out. Title IX cases can be won, but student athletes and their families must recognize, however, that achieving a favorable in a Title IX case requires a dedicated and intensive approach best handled by a professional who has a track record of successes in the Title IX disciplinary arena.
Fighting passionately for the future of student athletes at colleges and universities throughout the nation for over a decade, Joseph D. Lento knows how important it is to mount the strongest defense because he understands that a student athlete's academic and professional future, in addition to a post-college athletic career, is on the line. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph Lento is a licensed attorney in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, is admitted as an attorney pro hac vice in state and federal court if needed when representing clients nationwide, and serves as a Title IX advisor to student athletes facing sexual misconduct investigations and disciplinary cases in Rhode Island and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.