Merely being accused of violating your school's Title IX can cause an innumerable amount of stress for a student. After all, this is a federal law that carries pretty harsh repercussions if you are found responsible for committing these acts. In Catholic educational institutions, where the moral expectations are sky high, facing accusations of sexual misconduct can be incredibly damaging to your reputation and standing in the community, and the damage is often done before you have a chance to defend yourself.
If you are a student who has found themselves in this situation, your main concern is probably putting these allegations behind you so you can continue your education. However, once they've been acquired, it's important to understand that sexual misconduct allegations will not just go away. And simply going through the motions will likely not end well for you. You need the help of an attorney who can guide you through your school's Title IX processes, and help you present a solid defense in a hearing.
For the purposes of this article, we will briefly acknowledge your school's sexual misconduct policy, and the Title IX process you will undergo when facing allegations of this nature.
Trinity Washington University's Sexual Misconduct Policy
According to Trinity's sexual misconduct policy, the school is “committed to the prevention and eradication of all forms of sexual intimidation or coercion.” Sexual misconduct typically includes a wide range of actions, including sexual harassment, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, and any attempt at these behaviors. Since Trinity receives some portion of federal funding from the federal government, it is required to handle all reported cases of sexual misconduct under Title IX. The policy notes that the school reserves the right to notify law enforcement at any time.
The Title IX Process
Those who file a complaint regarding sexual misconduct or are the victim in a complaint are known as “complainants.” Alleged offenders listed in these reports are referred to as “respondents.” Once a school receives word of a perceived instance, the Title IX process will immediately be initiated.
The initial assessment
Once a report is filed, Trinity's Title IX coordinator will be notified. It is the job of him or her to assess a complaint to determine if there is sufficient evidence of a violation of the Title IX policy. Typically, additional information from a complainant, like a statement or witness list will be requested for clarification. In the event that the coordinator determines that there is enough evidence that validates a violation, an investigation will be commenced, and the case will proceed for further inquiry.
A Title IX coordinator will appoint an objective third party to investigate the instance of sexual misconduct. This in-depth investigation consists of interviews, the gathering or relevant documentary evidence, and any other useful information that the investigator wishes to garner at his or her discretion. After the 7-day investigation period, the investigator will draft a report to the Title IX coordinator, who then will determine whether it is more likely than not that the sexual misconduct actually occurred.
If the investigation findings reveal that sexual misconduct did occur, the Title IX coordinator will meet with a respondent, and give you the opportunity to either admit or deny the allegations. If a respondent admits to these actions, there will be disciplinary action, if they deny these allegations, there will be a hearing scheduled as soon as possible where a respondent will be able to make his or her case.
During a hearing, each party is allocated the same amount of time to make a statement and call a witness. After each side is heard, an independent hearing panel (comprised of professional personnel of the university) will make a determination based on the preponderance of evidence - a decision based on the likeliness of the sexual misconduct occurred based on the quality of the evidence presented.
Respondents are allowed to have an advisor accompany them through hearings, however, they are not allowed to intervene in any way.
Disciplinary proceedings and penalties
If a respondent is found guilty of sexual misconduct in a hearing, The Vice President for Student Affairs or their designees will review the case, and impose at least of the following penalties:
- Expulsion with no opportunity to return
- Expulsion with readmission consideration after a given period of time
- Suspension with or without conditions
- Removal from campus housing, temporarily or permanently
- Community service
- A “no contact” order between a complainant and respondent
At Trinity, students who disagree with a determination can appeal a case. However, he or she must have reasonable grounds for this appeal. Contact an attorney for more information about petitioning for an appeal.
Title IX Advisor
If you are facing allegations of sexual misconduct, you are allowed to choose any person you would like to be your advisor. With so much at stake, it would be wise to select an attorney who can guide you through the process. Contact skilled attorney Joseph D. Lento today for help.
Title IX violations and Title IX charges can change an accused student's life if not defended against properly and as early as possible during the disciplinary process, and Joseph D. Lento has nearly a decade of experience passionately fighting for the future of his clients at universities and colleges throughout the nation. 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 to students facing disciplinary cases in Washington, D.C. and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Joseph D. Lento can help.