Colleges and universities are responsible for internally adjudicating all allegations of sexual misconduct committed by and/or against students and staff under Title IX. The investigation period is one of the most important parts of the administrative Title IX resolution process schools use to determine if there has been a violation.
The Role of an Advisor
People who bring allegations (complainants) and individuals who respond to these charges (respondents) are granted the right to choose anyone they would like to serve as their advisor throughout the Title IX process. This right is extended because both parties will need guidance throughout this complex and emotionally charged process. Selecting the right person to be your advisor can maximize your chances of achieving a favorable result.
The Benefits of Choosing an Attorney as Your Title IX Advisor
Although respondents are allowed to choose anyone to be their advisor, it is critical that they consider an attorney to occupy this role. An experienced attorney advisor knows the ins and outs of the investigation and Title IX process as a whole. They've been through the process numerous times, and understand where they fit and how they can be most useful. But most importantly, an attorney can protect your rights and make sure they're being properly exercised.
The Title IX Process
Here's a general overview of the Title IX Process in federally funded Pennsylvania schools:
- A complaint is filed: colleges strongly encourage everyone who belongs to the campus community to report all rumored, witnessed, or experienced incidents of sexual misconduct. A complaint can be filed by virtually anyone, from a “victim” to a mandatory reporter.
- Interim measures: a school's primary concern is to keep a complainant and the campus community safe from retaliation. This is why in some cases, colleges deem it appropriate to implement interim measures. These measures include a no-contact order, housing accommodations, and anything else that would limit the interactions between a complainant and a respondent.
- The investigation: a formal investigation will be conducted by the school. Complainants, respondents, witnesses, and other relevant parties will be interviewed to gather information. Based on the facts, the investigator(s) will comprise a finding.
- Hearing: this is the last opportunity for both sides to tell their side of the story. A panel will listen to testimony, witness accounts, and final statements. After deliberation, the panel will come up with a determination and recommended sanctions.
- Sanctions: If the hearing panel concludes that a respondent is “responsible” for a violation of Title IX, a recommended sanction like an intervention, treatment, the removal of scholarships, suspension, and expulsion will be imposed.
- Appeals: an appeal is a request for a school to reconsider a decision based on an error made at some point during the process. Any party who feels dissatisfied with the outcome of an investigation or a proposed sanction can file an appeal.
Pennsylvania Title IX Advisor
If you attend a Pennsylvania 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.
Pennsylvania colleges and universities where Joseph D. Lento can help as your or your student's Title IX advisor during sexual misconduct investigations (and also hearings and appeals) include, but are not limited to, the following schools:
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 Pennsylvania and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Contact National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento today.