Voyeurism and Title IX

The U.S. Department of Education enacted Title IX in 1972 as an amendment that requires all academic institutions to prevent and enforce rules related to sexually-based discrimination. The provisions seek to prevent inequality or denying anyone access in areas such as admissions, athletics, benefits, campus organizations, and more. All schools must comply to maintain eligibility for receiving federal education funding. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is responsible for oversight to ensure compliance.

The OCR seeks to ensure that academic institutions maintain compliance with current Title IX provisions and will investigate concerns. Schools are encouraged to create a campus environment that is free from hostility such as various forms of sexually-based harassment. When a school is notified of a potential violation, they are tasked with reacting to investigate promptly. The administration may use various sanctions and other remedies to enforce and deter actions that violate the rules relating to gender-based violence and sexual misconduct.

Allegations of Title IX Violations

A Title IX complaint may be made against a student, faculty, staff member, or other respondent associated with an educational community.  Respondents are entitled to receive the details of any allegations and have a right to choose an advisor that can provide assistance and support. Schools each designate a Title IX Coordinator that is responsible for maintaining the institutional guidelines. This administrator must ensure that the investigative process is conducted fairly and equitably for all parties.

At many schools, once the investigation is completed, the parties are summoned to a hearing, where your advisor is permitted to accompany you. Respondents are encouraged to select an attorney-adviser to serve in this critical role. The allegations are evaluated using either a “preponderance of the evidence” or “clear and convincing” standard. Both of these standards are a lesser burden of proof than “beyond a reasonable doubt” that applies to criminal matters.

Understanding Voyeurism

The term voyeurism typically refers to the practice of deriving pleasure by observing others while they are doing something private or scandalous. It may be referred to as spying or peeping, commonly while observing others engaging in sexual activity or other activities where they expect privacy. It is a non-consensual act of deliberate intrusion that often involves a perpetrator who is observing the victim(s) from a secret vantage point.

In the written Title IX provisions at many colleges and universities, voyeurism is contained within the sexual exploitation category of violations. These are acts where the perpetrator does not make direct physical contact with the victim(s) that may constitute a form of abuse committed for one's advantage or benefit. One such example of this behavior is committed when a perpetrator covertly views and takes photographs or creates a video of people engaging in sexual activity without their consent.

The act may be committed by the observer who collaborates and conspires with someone that expects to be engaging in sexual activity who does not obtain their partner's consent. Voyeurism often overlaps with stalking, which is another activity that is now included among the violations of Title IX. Stalking involves discreetly monitoring or following someone for long periods and may have serious criminal implications. The victim is generally unaware they are being stalked and the perpetrators tend to repeat this action.

Recent Campus Investigation Involving Voyeurism

A 20-year old male student at Connecticut College faced criminal charges including voyeurism after an investigation revealed that he was observing women in a private bathroom changing area on campus. He had observed at least three women at times and was using a cellphone camera to capture photos. A representative from the school's Title IX Office also conducted an investigation, affirming their commitment to student privacy and safety. Administrators took measures such as installing privacy barriers and other coordinated efforts with the Campus Safety Department.

Advisory Lawyer for Students Accused of Title IX Misconduct

The outcome of Title IX disciplinary actions may dramatically alter your educational goals. Those facing such allegations are therefore encouraged to consult with an attorney promptly after becoming aware of them. This will ensure sufficient time is available for preparation, such as for effectively responding to questions, making persuasive statements, and uncovering possible evidence.

The U.S. Department of Education has recently made a host of proposed changes to the Title IX guidelines, which are constantly evolving. Some of these pending changes include redefining sexual harassment and changes in the evidence standards that may be employed. During these volatile times, you must have proper guidance from a knowledgeable advisor that is abreast of the current provisions.

Have you been accused of some form of sexual misconduct at a college or university? Attorney Joseph D. Lento has helped countless clients in campus Title IX proceedings at colleges and universities across the United States.  He has the experience needed to ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process and pursue a positive resolution. Contact the office today at (888) 535-3686 for a consultation.

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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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