Students accused of sexual misconduct must undergo a number of processes under their school's Title IX policy. If this has happened to you, you need to understand what you're up against to maximize your chances of a favorable outcome. In this article, we will briefly address the processes you should expect to go through at Wesley College.
The Title IX Process
Wesley College has an equity process for resolving investigations of sexual misconduct, harassment and other forms of gender-based discrimination. Those who file a complaint alleging any of this behavior is known as a “complainant,” while alleged offenders listed in said complaints are known as “respondents.” Once a school receives word of an alleged incident, the initial steps of the Title IX process will be immediately initiated.
Following the receipt of a notice, the school's Title IX coordinator will assign another objective party with Title IX training to work with the complainant for two business days. An initial determination will be made dictating if the school's policy was likely violated (which would spawn an investigation) and/or whether conflict resolution may be the best alternative to these claims.
The likelihood of a full investigation occurring depends heavily on if there is evidence of a pattern of misconduct or a perceived threat of further harm to the school's community or any of its individual members.
In circumstances when a full investigation is considered appropriate, the Title IX coordinator will appoint another college employee who is well-versed in Title IX, known as a Title IX Central coordinator, to launch the investigation within two business days. During this process, complainants, respondents, and witnesses will be interviewed in an effort to receive first-hand information. Only 30 days are allotted for an investigation, however, this deadline may be extended if there is a lack of information or understanding of the alleged occurrence when parties are interviewed. The school may also identify sources to provide expert information to further clarify a case. If the findings reveal that Wesley's Title IX regulations may have been violated, the school resolves this one of two ways: resolution without a hearing or the scheduling of a formal hearing.
Resolution without a hearing
This method of resolution only occurs if a respondent admits that they are guilty of the allegations made against them. From here, a Title IX investigator will recommend an appropriate sanction or responsive action for the violation committed. The sanction must be accepted by both a complainant and a respondent before it is enforced.
Hearing are typically scheduled within one to two weeks of the completion of an investigation, and will be conducted in a private setting. Any evidence that a panel believes is relevant may be considered, with the exception of information concerning incidents that aren't directly related to a violation (unless there is a pattern of behavior exhibited) or the sexual history of the complainant. Each party will be allowed to present evidence, bring up witnesses and make final statements explaining their account of events. After each side has been heard, the panel will deliberate in a closed session, basing its decision on the preponderance of evidence - whether it is more likely than not an individual committed the alleged violation).
A written notification of a guilty or innocent determination will be revealed within 2-3 days of a hearing. If a respondent is found guilty of a violation, he or she will be subject to disciplinary action by the school immediately.
In the event that a respondent disagrees with this determination, he or she can request an appeal. However, it will only be granted if it is based on good reason. Typically, appeals are granted when the following can be proven by a respondent:
- A procedural error or omission occurred that significantly impacted the outcome of a hearing
- New or unknown evidence has surfaced that could substantially impact the original determination or sanction
- The sanctions imposed are substantially disproportionate to the severity of the violation
Respondents have a total of three business days to submit an appeal in writing.
Title IX Advisor
Federal law allows you to choose anyone you would like to be your advisor in the midst of your school's Title IX processes. Selecting an attorney to occupy this role is critical to ensuring that your rights are protected every step of the way. Contact skilled legal professional 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 Delaware and throughout the nation. Make certain your or your student's interests are protected - Joseph D. Lento can help