Sexual misconduct allegations are serious business. If your college or university has opened an investigation against you, it's no exaggeration to say that your entire future is on the line. At a minimum, you could lose your job and your career in education. If the allegations should happen to become public, they could follow you around online forever, making it hard to make friends and form new relationships.
Here's the good news: you don't have to face these charges all on your own. The law entitles you to an advisor, and that advisor can be an attorney. With so much on the line, though, you don't want to choose just any attorney. You want someone who knows the law, someone with experience dealing with campus administration, someone with a proven track record for defending college employee rights. In short, you want a Title IX attorney like Joseph Lento.
What is Title IX?
Just what is Title IX, and what does it have to do with your case? Title IX is a federal law passed in 1972 that prohibits sexual discrimination on college campuses. “Discrimination” doesn't just mean discrimination, though. The law bars any type of sexually-based harassment, from inappropriate social media posts to stalking, dating violence, and rape. Title IX imposes stiff penalties on any universities that refuse to cooperate, which creates an incentive for schools to take every accusation seriously, no matter how unlikely they may seem. In short, if you're accused of any sort of sexual misconduct, you can usually expect your school to deal with it through Title IX.
The law also outlines a strict set of rules for how schools must go about investigating and adjudicating such accusations. Here's a brief summary of what you can expect if you've been charged with a Title IX offense.
1. Every school must have a Title IX Coordinator. Anyone at your school can accuse you of misconduct, and, in fact, at some schools, faculty and staff are required to report any knowledge they may have of sexual offenses. However, only a Complainant (the alleged victim) or the Coordinator can sign an official complaint against you.
2. The Coordinator is required to provide you with written notice if you're being investigated. This notice must reveal the name of the Complainant and details about the allegation.
3. Under Title IX, you have a number of important rights:
- You have the right to be treated the same as the Complainant in all matters.
- You have the right to an advisor, who may be an attorney.
- You have the right to be presumed “not responsible” (innocent) until proven “responsible” (guilty).
- You have the right to review all evidence against you.
- You have the right to submit evidence and suggest witnesses.
- You have the right to unbiased investigators and decision makers.
- You have the right to advanced notice of any official meetings or proceedings.
3. Once they've provided you with notice, the Coordinator appoints an Investigator to pursue the matter. This person meets separately with both sides in the case. They also collect any physical evidence and solicit witness testimony.
4. Your school will have a timeline for completing investigations. At the end of this period, the Investigator writes an unbiased summary of their findings, and both sides have ten days to review this document and suggest any revisions.
6. The Investigative Report is forwarded to the Coordinator, who sets a time and date for a live hearing. In addition, the Coordinator appoints a Decision Maker or a panel of Decision Makers to oversee the proceedings.
7. At the hearing, both sides present their case, making arguments, introducing evidence, and questioning witnesses. In addition, both sides may question one another and any witnesses against them. Only advisors may ask questions. If you do not have an advisor, the school must provide you with one, but it isn't required to supply you with an attorney.
8. At the conclusion of the hearing, Decision Makers review the evidence and render a decision as to your level of responsibility. They don't use the “Beyond a reasonable doubt” standard you're probably familiar with. Instead, they use a standard known as “Preponderance of evidence,” which requires them to find you responsible if they believe it is “more likely than not” that you committed a violation.
9. The hearing isn't necessarily the end of your case. You have the right to appeal the Decision Makers' findings. However, your school will set a time limit on how soon you must file your appeal. In addition, they'll likely place restrictions on your reasons for appeal. These usually include
- The discovery of new evidence
- The demonstration of obvious mistakes in Title IX procedures
- The demonstration of clear bias on the part of a Title IX official
How Can Joseph D. Lento Help?
Title IX is a complex law, as the steps outlined above suggest. In fact, the actual guidelines run to some 550 pages, and that doesn't include judicial opinions and Department of Education memorandums that offer interpretations of the rules. In addition, the law is politically sensitive and subject to revision under each new presidential administration. For example, President Biden has already promised to repeal many of the rules implemented during the Trump administration.
Title IX does guarantee respondents some important rights. However, it's not always easy to know what these are or how to use them effectively to win your case. Only someone well-versed in the law and its history will know how to navigate it successfully.
Joseph D. Lento is a fully-licensed, fully qualified defense attorney. He isn't the average defense attorney, though. He's what's known as a “Title IX attorney.” That means he's spent years studying Title IX. He knows its history; he monitors its politics; he keeps up with its frequent revisions. 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.
If you've been accused of Title IX sexual misconduct in Colorado, don't wait. Contact the Lento Law Firm's today, at 888-555-3686, or use our automated online form.