If you face a sexual misconduct investigation at the Georgia Institute of Technology, you will likely be feeling distressed, dejected, and disorientated. Allegations of this nature can derail a person's future. When you are coming up against an unfamiliar or hostile disciplinary process, it can feel like the odds are stacked against you. Schools may not always treat accused students fairly, making it vital that you thoroughly understand your school's policies and secure good advice. Only then can you effectively safeguard your rights and give yourself the best possible defense.
Georgia Colleges and Title IX or Sexual Misconduct Cases
Historically colleges and universities have processed sexual harassment and misconduct claims under the federal civil rights law Title IX.
In August 2020, the Georgia Institute of Technology revised its Title IX processes in the light of federal regulations that came into effect that month.
The new guidance applies to a narrower definition of sexual harassment than before. While schools have to investigate Title IX offenses in Title IX compliant investigations, their own school policies can also come into play. If someone has accused you of sexual misconduct, you will have to familiarise yourself with school policy as well as Title IX.
A Summary of New Title IX Guidelines
The new regulations issued by the U.S. Department of Education went into effect on August 14, 2020. The following changes apply to all Title IX investigations:
- The definition of harassment has narrowed to “unwelcome conduct” determined to be “severe, pervasive and objectively offensive.”
- Schools must now allow a student's advisor/attorney-advisor to cross-examine witnesses in live hearings.
- Your school must investigate alleged misconduct that took place on campus or in the school's program, including off-campus fraternity and sorority houses under Title IX, but not offenses that took place off-campus housing or overseas.
Georgia Tech: Your School's Title IX Policy
Your school must investigate allegations that come under Title IX with a specific grievance process. This procedure includes a live hearing and cross-examinations of both sides.
The Title IX Office at Georgia Tech is part of the Institute Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. The Title IX Office will investigate sexual misconduct claims filed against any community member across campuses, programs, and activities. Under Title IX, certain employees also have responsibilities as mandatory reporters.
Complaints covered under Title IX require special handling that Georgia Tech warns may differ from an institution's handling of Sexual Misconduct, as defined in their own Georgia Tech and the University System of Georgia’s (USG’s) sexual misconduct policies.
Georgia Tech: Your School's Sexual Misconduct Policy
If someone has accused you of misconduct covered by school policy but not Title IX, the investigation will follow a slightly different protocol.
This complexity makes it all the more important to navigate the procedures and level a suitable defense.
Georgia Tech: Formal Process
A formal complaint about sexual misconduct will trigger an investigation, which will result in a written report.
The formal process:
- formal investigation
- proposed sanction
- opportunity to contest a preliminary determination
- hearing to determine policy violations
- appeal process
In a formal Title IX hearing, and indeed in informal proceedings, the school uses the “preponderance of the evidence” standard. Both sides have the right to present witnesses and evidence. All those participating will be subject to cross-examination, and your advisor can directly cross-examine on your behalf. Your advisor can also work to ensure that the school follows due process and your rights are respected.
Georgia Tech: Non-Title IX Process
Non-Title IX formal complaints follow much the same process. In non-Title IX hearings, the parties still have the right to present witnesses and evidence. You have the right to confront witnesses, including your accuser, by submitting written questions to the Hearing Officer for consideration. While your advisor cannot directly conduct the cross-examinations, they can help you draft questions for submission. The Hearing Officer will ask the questions exactly as they are written and should limit questions only if they are irrelevant to the case.
Georgia Tech: Informal Process
Your school can resolve complaints informally if you and the person who made allegations against both agree to the terms of that process.
However, this is not risk-free. Up until the point that you agree upon a resolution, the parties can request a formal process. Once settled, however, it is not appealable.
The Consequences of Sexual Misconduct at Georgia Tech: Measures and Sanctions
If someone has made a formal complaint against you, the school might take interim measures while the investigation is ongoing. Measures typically bar you from contact with your accuser and can include a change in housing assignment, a no-contact derivative, timetable changes, or even interim suspension.
Ultimately Georgia Tech has a broad range of sanctions they can use up to and including:
- No-contact orders
- Sensitivity training/awareness education programs
- Counseling or mentoring; volunteering/community service
- Loss of institutional privileges
- Financial restitution
Beyond these immediate sanctions, a record of sexual misconduct can have far-reaching consequences for your future, including hampering your ability to obtain internships and professional employment, gain admission to graduate or professional school, obtain professional licensing in your field, serve in the military, and so forth. The consequences can be life-altering regrettably.
Joseph D. Lento: Experienced College Sexual Misconduct Attorney Advisor
Unfounded allegations of sexual misconduct can unjustly imperil your career and future. With the stakes extraordinarily high and pressure on institutions to make a show of their zero-tolerance policies, it is imperative that you consult an advisor who knows the system. A knowledgeable advisor can protect your right to due process and keep your school accountable to its own rules.
Joseph D. Lento has successfully defended hundreds of students from all across the country in their Title IX and sexual misconduct cases. Whether someone has just made a report against you, or you wish to appeal an unfair verdict, Joseph D. Lento will work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome. For more information about how we can help you, call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or contact us online.