Title IX and College Sexual-Misconduct Charges at Emory University

The private Christian institution Emory University advertises that it offers a rigorous liberal-arts education within a leading research university. Emory has operated near downtown Atlanta since 1836. Its stated mission is to “create, preserve, teach, and apply knowledge in the service of humanity.”

Numbers show that Emory carries out that mission by attracting hundreds of millions of dollars of annual research funding, administering an endowment of many billions of dollars, and enrolling about 8,000 undergraduate and 7,300 graduate students on its urban campus. Many students attending Emory University live in campus housing, either traditional residence halls, sororities, and fraternities, or non-traditional theme and gender-inclusive housing.

Emory University has an elaborate sexual-misconduct policy through which it regulates sexual interactions among its students, faculty, and staff members both on campus and in off-campus programs and activities. Consider this important information about your legal rights if you face sexual-misconduct allegations at Emory University. Sexual-misconduct allegations in a school setting can ruin your education, career, and reputation, if you don't retain the skilled and experienced representation like that of Joseph D. Lento of the Lento Law Firm.

Title IX Misconduct

Colleges and universities like Emory University that receive federal funding must enforce Title IX's prohibition against sex discrimination. Title IX's prohibition includes certain forms of sexual misconduct. Obama Administration guidelines expanded those prohibited forms of Title IX sexual misconduct, and added more protections for those who accuse others of sexual misconduct at colleges and universities, through an interpretive Dear Colleague Letter.

Court decisions found, though, that those actions protecting accusers led some colleges and universities to burden and violate the rights of the accused. The Trump Administration thus rescinded the Dear Colleague Letter and, in 2020, tightened Title IX sexual misconduct's definition. Read here more detail about those recent changes in Title IX interpretation. The current interpretation limits Title IX's reach to only these three forms of sexual misconduct, each of which Part III.B. of Emory University's sexual-misconduct policy prohibits:

  • sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking;
  • quid-pro-quo harassment (attempting to trade favors for sex); or
  • unwelcome conduct so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive as to deny equal access to education based on sex.

Emory University Procedures

A college or university receiving a complaint about one or more of these three Title IX forms of sexual misconduct must also follow federal rules to determine whether misconduct occurred. Part III.G. of Emory University's sexual-misconduct policy describes its Title IX procedures. Either a complainant or Emory University's Title IX coordinator files a written complaint, triggering a grievance procedure that then must comply with federal Title IX procedures. Emory's procedures refer explicitly to those federal Title IX procedures.

Emory's training materials for its Title IX procedure show that its Title IX coordinator appoints an investigator who interviews the accuser, accused, and witnesses. The Title IX investigator produces and shares with the accuser, accused, and Title IX coordinator an investigative report summarizing relevant evidence. Both sides have an opportunity to evaluate and comment on the report in draft form before the investigator finalizes the report. Here is one place where a skilled and experienced lawyer from the Lento Law Firm can assist you in evaluating and critiquing biased and conflicted statements, and statements without a factual foundation.

The Trump Administration's 2020 changes to federal Title IX procedures guarantee the accused a hearing at which the accused has the right to attend and cross-examine the accuser and other witnesses to expose false allegations. Emory University's procedures, reflected in its training materials, require the accused to have an advisor accompany the accused to the hearing. Those same procedures permit the advisor to cross-examine witnesses at the hearing. The cross-examination of adverse witnesses is exactly where a skilled and experienced lawyer from the Lento Law Firm can make a huge difference in the outcome of sexual-misconduct charges.

Emory University Sexual Misconduct

The risks of a sexual-misconduct charge are greater at Emory University than they need to be under federal law. Institutions must prohibit Title IX misconduct. They may prohibit other, lesser forms of sexual misconduct. When in 2020 the Trump Administration tightened Title IX sexual misconduct's definition, Emory University enacted new rules making clear that it was prohibiting broader sexual misconduct than Title IX misconduct. Emory University's sexual-misconduct policy goes beyond Title IX's prohibitions to further prohibit all of these additional forms of non-Title IX sexual misconduct:

  • non-consensual sexual intercourse;
  • non-consensual sexual contact;
  • sexual exploitation;
  • sexual harassment;
  • gender-based harassment;
  • retaliation;
  • aiding, facilitating, encouraging, concealing, or otherwise assisting in prohibited conduct; and
  • violating a protective measure.

Part IV.A. of Emory's sexual-misconduct policy defines each of the above forms of non-Title IX sexual misconduct. For example, the sexual-exploitation form involves non-consensual abuse or exploitation of another person's sexuality for the purpose of sexual gratification, financial gain, personal benefit or advantage, or any other purpose. Part IV.A.3. gives these examples of sexual exploitation:

  • invasion of sexual privacy;
  • prostituting an individual;
  • non-consensual video- or audio-recording of sexual activity or circulation of such recorded material (i.e. revenge pornography);
  • non-consensual photographing individuals who are partly undressed, naked, or engaged in sexual acts and transmitting or posting those photographs without an individual's consent;
  • observing unsuspecting individuals who are partly undressed, naked, or engaged in sexual acts;
  • knowingly transmitting a sexually transmitted disease;
  • exposing one's breasts, buttocks, or genitals without affirmative consent or inducing another to do the same; and
  • inducing incapacitation for the purpose of making another person vulnerable to non-consensual sexual activity.

Like the above sexual-exploitation definition, Emory University's definitions of sexual harassment and gender-based harassment, in Parts IV.A.4. and 6. are similarly broad, well beyond Title IX's definition of sexual misconduct. For example, Emory's gender-based-harassment definition prohibits a series of written, verbal, or electronic statements that disparage a person based on their actual or perceived sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, or pregnancy. Such broad and arguably vague and even subjective definitions can implicate so much behavior as to substantially increase the risk of false or unfair sexual-misconduct charges.

Get Premier Representation

You can see from the above that although Emory University defines sexual misconduct broadly, its procedures give substantial opportunities for skilled and experienced representation to defend charges. Expert legal counsel can be your greatest resource in navigating school disciplinary proceedings to preserve your education, career, and reputation. The procedures are complex, meaning that you need expert help from a lawyer who knows how to deal with colleges and universities.

College and university students and employees nationwide retain Joseph D. Lento at the Lento Law Firm to represent them in sexual misconduct disciplinary matters. Joseph Lento and the Lento Law Firm have the knowledge, resources, and expertise to help you through a disciplinary proceeding at Emory University, for the best outcome. Call 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation, or use the online service.

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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 our offices today, and let us help secure your academic career.

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