Title IX: Getting Representation When You Need It at Your School

American colleges and universities take charges of sexual misconduct seriously, as well they should. No one should have to suffer discrimination, harassment, or assault simply because of their sex. Schools have a particular responsibility to look after their students' welfare.

If only schools were as eager to protect the rights of their accused students. “Guilty until proven innocent” is one of the founding principles of American jurisprudence. Yet under federal Title IX guidelines, schools can and ignore most of the fundamental rights defendants enjoy in an actual court of law.

If you find yourself accused of sexual misconduct, and being investigated by your school under Title IX, don't take the situation lightly. Without the right person in your corner, your university will likely side with your accuser, and if found responsible, they will do everything they can to suspend or expel you, and Title IX gives them plenty of ammunition to do just that. Protect yourself. Find out all you can about how your school deals with such allegations. Then call a qualified Title IX attorney to help.

Title IX: The Basics

For most of recent history, colleges and universities have prosecuted most instances of sexual misconduct under Title IX. This law, passed in 1972, prohibited sexual discrimination and harassment in all federally funded educational programs.

Though well-intentioned, Title IX was flawed from the beginning. As an incentive to get schools to cooperate, it threatened to withhold federal funding from any institution that refused to comply. As a result, universities today don't merely comply; with millions of dollars at stake, they investigate and prosecute absolutely every accusation, no matter how spurious it might seem. They do everything they can, going too far in many cases, to convict their own students.

More problems with the law developed over time. Courts expanded the definitions of “discrimination” and “harassment” so that they came to mean anything from treating students unequally in the classroom to far more violent crimes like stalking and sexual assault. Suddenly schools found themselves investigating crimes like rape. Students and faculty, with little to no training in weighing judicial matters, found themselves deciding cases that give even seasoned judges pause.

To make matters worse, the federal government systematically did away with several key due process rights for defendants, or never considered such fundamental tenets of fairness for inclusion in the first place. At most schools, for example, judicial panels don't have to find a defendant guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” They can find responsible, or "convict" so to speak, if they believe the offense is “more likely than not” to have occurred. Lawyers call this the 51% rule. It means the decision-maker or panelists must only be just over fifty percent sure you committed an offense in order to find you responsible.

The Title IX Process

How does the Title IX process work? The government has outlined a clear set of guidelines.

Once someone has made a formal complaint against you, the school appoints an investigator to investigate the incident. This investigator interviews both parties as well as any relevant witnesses. They also collect any evidence, such as clothing, video, or text messages. Once they've done all this, they submit a full report to the school's administration.

The school then impanels a hearing committee to hear the case. Typically, these committees are made up of three to five students and faculty members who have received some minimal training in the school's judicial procedures. At the hearing, both sides have the right to present evidence, to call witnesses, and to cross-examine the other side's witnesses.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the panel decides whether the defendant is "responsible", which essentially equates to guilty or innocent, and imposes any necessary punishments. These can include anything from a reprimand to mandated counseling, but in practice, the minimum sanction in most cases is suspension at a minimum. More likely, the school will expel you, with a transcript notation about the nature of your offense.

Under Title IX, you do have the right to appeal a verdict against you. However, appeals are only granted for very narrow reasons, including new evidence or the demonstration of clear bias during the Title IX process.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento Can Help

If you've been reading carefully, you may be feeling nervous about your case at this point. You should be. Title IX disciplinary processes - prosecutions by any other name - are complex. The deck is stacked against you before you even begin defending yourself. Nothing less than your academic and professional future is at stake.

Here's the good news. You don't have to go through this experience alone. Under Title IX, you are entitled to appoint an advisor to help you through the entire process. That advisor can be—and should be—a Title IX attorney. Your advisor will be by your side every time you meet with the school or are interviewed. They will help you uncover evidence and interview witnesses. They will represent you in the hearing, questioning witnesses and raising objections on your behalf. If it comes to it, they can negotiate with the school to reach a fair settlement.

Maybe most importantly, a Title IX attorney will keep track of all the ways your school may try to deny you your rights. Should you lose your hearing, you can then file suit in federal court to have your good name restored. The notes your attorney takes become the basis for that suit.

You don't want just any attorney, though. You want a Title IX attorney, someone who knows the law and its history, someone with proven experience dealing with college faculty and administrators.

Attorney Joseph D. Lento built his career defending students just like you from Title IX allegations. You can expect him to be empathetic: he knows what you're going through, and he's on your side. When it comes to dealing with schools, though, he's tough as nails. He won't let them mistreat you, and he'll fight to get you every right you deserve. Joseph D. Lento is more than a defense attorney. He's a Title IX attorney with years of experience taking on colleges and universities across the country and fighting for justice on behalf of his clients and their families.

If you've been accused of sexual misconduct, don't wait to see what the school might do. Take control of your own situation. Contact attorney Joseph D. Lento today. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.

Additional Information

You can find out more about how your specific college or university deals with Title IX allegations by clicking on one of the links below.

If you face allegations of sexual misconduct at your school, contact the attorney who has the insight and knowledge to help you. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686.

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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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