According to federal law Title IX, higher education institutions must adjudicate all allegations of sexual misconduct committed by and/or against students and staff. The investigation is an important part of the administrative process colleges and universities use to determine whether Title IX has been violated.
The Role of an Advisor
People who bring allegations (complainants) and individuals who respond to them (respondents) are afforded the right to choose a person to serve as their advisor. This right is extended because the Title IX process can be difficult to navigate. Choosing the right advisor is an important decision, as it can make all the difference when it comes to achieving a favorable outcome.
The Benefits of Choosing an Attorney as Your Title IX Advisor
Although respondents are given the freedom to choose anyone to be their advisor, it is critical that they choose an attorney to occupy this role. An experienced attorney knows the ins and outs of the process, understands their place, and is aware of the ways in which they can be most useful. They are also knowledgeable enough to notice if your rights are being protected and exercised properly.
The Title IX Process
Here is a general overview of the Title IX process conducted in federally funded Delaware colleges and universities:
- Acomplaint is filed: higher education institutions always encourage every member of the campus community to report all rumored, witnessed, or experienced instances of sexual misconduct. Anybody can file a complaint, from “victims” to school staff.
- Interim measures: once a complaint is filed, the school's main concern becomes the safety of the complainant and other people on campus. To prevent retaliation, a college may deem it necessary to impose interim measures. Measures like a no-contact order, housing rearrangements, changes in school schedules, and the outright restriction of students from certain parts of campus are implemented to severely limit the interactions between complainants and respondents.
- The investigation: a formal investigation will be conducted by an objective investigator. During this period, the complainant, the respondent, witnesses, and any other relevant parties will be thoroughly interviewed for the purposes of gathering information. Based on the facts, the investigator(s) will come up with a finding.
- Hearing: at schools that decide sexual misconduct charges at a hearing, this is the last chance for both sides to share their account of the incident. A panel will take the information from the investigation and the statements of the parties and witnesses into consideration during a deliberation. After deliberation, the panel will come up with a determination.
- Sanctions: If the hearing panel decides that a respondent is “responsible” for violating Title IX, sanctions that consist of treatment, an intervention, the removal of scholarships, suspension, or expulsion are imposed.
- Appeals: an appeal is a request for a school to reconsider its decision based on reasonable grounds. If any party is dissatisfied with the outcome of an investigation or recommended sanction, he or she may file an appeal.
Delaware Title IX Advisor
If you attend a Delaware college or university and are facing sexual misconduct allegations, it is crucial you contact an attorney. For students who haven't been through this process before, it can be confusing and scary. Preparation is the key to favorable results. Skilled legal professional Joseph D. Lento has extensive experience preparing respondents for an investigation and the entire Title IX process. Contact him today for help.
Delaware colleges and universities where Joseph D. Lento can help as your or your student's Title IX advisor during sexual misconduct investigations (in addition to hearings and appeals) include, but are not limited to, the following schools:
- Delaware College of Art and Design
- Delaware State University
- Goldey–Beacom College
- University of Delaware
- Wesley College
- Widener University–Delaware Campus
- Wilmington University
It is critical to make certain the Title IX investigation at your college or university is handled properly and that the accused student's or employee's interests are protected from as early as possible during the sexual misconduct investigative process. One major reason is because even at schools where a finding of responsibility for sexual misconduct charges is made at a hearing, the investigation will set the stage for what the hearing panel is provided prior to a hearing (and what the hearing panel will in large part rely on at a hearing), and at schools where the finding of responsibility is made solely through the investigative process, what takes place during the investigation itself will determine whether the accused is found responsible or not responsible for Title IX charges.
Unfortunately, some students, families, and college employees make the mistake of not taking the necessary precautions as soon as possible when accused of sexual misconduct. Some people will mistakenly believe that if they "just explain what happened," their school will be fair and impartial and will arrive at the truth. In a perfect world this may be the case, but in a perfect world, sexual misconduct and Title IX charges would not exist.
Fighting passionately for the future of his clients at universities and colleges throughout the nation for a decade, Joseph D. Lento knows how important it is to mount the strongest defense because he understands that an accused's academic and professional future is on the line. He does not settle for the easiest outcome, and instead prioritizes his clients' needs and well-being. Joseph Lento is a licensed attorney in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, is admitted as an attorney pro hac vice in state and federal court if needed when representing clients nationwide, and serves as a Title IX advisor and educational consultant to students facing sexual misconduct investigations and disciplinary cases in Delaware and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.