Facing a Title IX accusation is a daunting proposition. It isn't just that someone has accused you of a heinous act. Should your university find you responsible (guilty) for a violation, you could very well lose your job. Worse, with a sexual misconduct verdict on your resume, you'll find it difficult, if not impossible, to find another school willing to hire you. Meanwhile, in today's political climate, you can expect your school will make it as hard as possible to defend yourself. No one wants to look soft on sexual offenders.
As difficult as this sounds, you can handle this situation. You just need a little help. Luckily, Title IX allows you to get that help. The law guarantees you the right to an advisor, and that advisor can be an attorney. Make sure you choose the right attorney, though. Joseph D. Lento is a Title IX lawyer; he can make sure you're treated fairly and that you get the very best possible resolution to your case.
What You Need to Know About Title IX
Successfully defending yourself begins with understanding Title IX. You can't hope to win your case unless you know exactly what you've been charged with and what judicial procedures you're facing.
Title IX is a federal law passed in 1972. It specifically prohibits sexual discrimination and harassment on college campuses. These terms, “discrimination” and “harassment,” are used in their broadest senses. That means they apply to all manner of sexually-based offenses, from simple verbal harassment to stalking, dating violence, and rape.
In addition to its general prohibitions, Title IX also includes a strict set of guidelines for how schools must investigate and adjudicate all allegations. Those guidelines run to some 550 pages. That's one reason why you need an attorney to help you prepare your case. Here's a brief overview, though, of what they have to say.
- Your university must have a Title IX Coordinator. This individual enforces school policy regarding sexual discrimination and harassment. In addition, they make decisions about which accusations warrant investigation.
- If you're charged with a Title IX offense, the Coordinator must serve you with written notice. This notice should include the name of the Complainant and details about the allegation.
- You have several important rights under Title IX, including the right to an advisor, the right to a presumption of “not responsible” (innocent), and the right to review all evidence against you.
- Next, the Coordinator must appoint an Investigator to uncover the facts in the case. Investigators typically begin by meeting separately with both sides. They also collect any physical evidence and interview potential witnesses.
- At the conclusion of the investigation, the Investigator must submit a written summary of their findings. This report is meant to be unbiased, and both sides have the right to review it and suggest revisions before it is finalized.
- Once the Coordinator receives the final Investigative Report, they schedule a date and time for a live hearing. They also choose one or more Decision Makers to preside over this hearing.
- The hearing offers you the opportunity to argue your innocence. You are allowed to introduce evidence and to call witnesses to testify on your behalf. In addition, you may cross-examine the Complainant and any other witnesses against you.
- Only advisors may conduct examinations and cross-examinations. If you do not have an advisor, the school must provide you with one. However, it is not required to supply you with an attorney.
- At the end of the hearing, Decision-Makers evaluate the evidence and render a judgment. In doing so, they use a legal standard known as “Preponderance of Evidence.” Similar to “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt” but far less strict, this standard requires Decision-Makers find you Responsible if they believe it is “more likely than not” that you committed an offense.
- Finally, you have the right to appeal the outcome of your hearing. There will be a time limit on filing, and your school will likely have restrictions on the actual grounds for appeal. Generally, you may only file an appeal if new evidence has been uncovered, you have a specific complaint as to a procedural mistake that was made, or you can demonstrate bias on the part of a Title IX official. In addition, you should know that the Complainant has an equal right to appeal the hearing verdict.
You may have noticed that these guidelines entitle you to a number of important rights. It's not always easy to know how to use these, though. Only a qualified, experienced attorney knows how to navigate Title IX procedures and how to make the most of the advantages you're given under the law.
How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?
Make no mistake: Facing an allegation of sexual misconduct can be a nerve-rattling experience. The accusation itself is upsetting. The investigation and hearing processes can be challenging even under the best of circumstances. Add to all this the danger that the accusation might become public knowledge or that you'll have to deal with media scrutiny. Your colleagues may doubt you; your students may treat you differently. The entire experience is guaranteed to be stressful.
That doesn't mean you can't handle it. You can successfully defend your reputation. You just don't want to try and handle the situation all on your own.
Joseph D. Lento is a fully-licensed, fully qualified defense attorney. He's a seasoned litigator who knows how to do battle on your behalf. Joseph D. Lento isn't just a defense attorney, though. He's what's known as a “Title IX attorney.” He's spent years studying the law. He knows its history, its politics, and its application. Just as important, Joseph D. Lento understands how schools operate. He knows what tactics they use, and he knows how to counter those tactics. Joseph D. Lento has helped hundreds of college employees get the justice they deserve, and he can help you do the same.
If you've been accused of Title IX sexual misconduct in Alaska, don't wait. Contact the Lento Law Firm's office today at 888-555-3686 or use our automated online form.