If you are a student who has been accused of sexual misconduct on your campus, it's important for you to understand what you're up against. Being found "responsible" for these allegations by your school can jeopardize your educational and professional goals. This is why you shouldn't just go through the motions. In this process, getting an attorney to serve as your advisor will help you level the playing field, and will increase your chances of truly achieving a fair investigative process.
In this article, I've outlined every stage of the process that occurs at colleges and universities throughout the Title IX investigation. For more detailed information about your case and the process at your school, contact me, attorney Joseph D. Lento.
1. The Initial Assessment
An initial assessment is a meeting between the Title IX coordinator and the complainant that essentially serves two purposes: determining whether or not it's possible that there was a violation of Title IX, and gauging if there's a potential threat to the victim or other parties that are involved. After getting some basic facts of an alleged incident from a victim, a coordinator will be tasked with assessing if the process should be further conducted. If it is decided that the investigation will ensue and that there is any indication of a potential threat, interim measures may be imposed.
Interim measures are enforced to prevent a hostile campus environment. In many cases, accommodations like a no-contact agreement, restrictive access to certain areas of the university, housing reassignments, schedule modifications and more are put in place to prohibit retaliation.
2. Planning and Investigation
After an initial assessment, the Title IX coordinator will assign investigators (typically a lead investigator and a secondary one) on the complaint. It is their job to discuss and create a detailed plan with the coordinator, develop a clear investigation timeline, and gather information and evidence. As a student involved in this process, you have every right be informed about when and if these things are happening and at what pace. Talk to your advisor or to your Title IX coordinator to understand what stage the investigators are at in your case, and their next steps.
When the investigation begins, the investigators are to contact the complainant to give an in-depth explanation of this process. Additional information like confidentiality policies, medical treatments, counseling, accommodations, and more relevant information may be discussed. Respondents, however, aren't usually offered space and time to go over details.
Next, the investigation includes interviews with the complainant, witnesses, respondents, and other involved parties. Thorough and unbiased interviews consist of allowing each party to tell their account of events at their own pace while avoiding blame and allowing time for a full, unhurried discussion. It is important that all parties are given the same amount of time and space to share their account of events.
Investigators will also ask each of these parties to write a statement that entails their account of the alleged incidents. Ask your advisor for help with how to craft this statement in a way that is effective.
5. Finishing the Investigation
After the interviews, the investigators are tasked with gathering any additional evidence needed for clarification and complete a report including all necessary documents. This report will be submitted to the Title IX coordinator for review, and they will decide how to proceed.
Nationwide Title IX Advisor
The only way to make sure your voice is heard and your rights are upheld is to retain a student defense attorney. For respondents, especially, the assistance of an attorney advisor is invaluable in the Title IX process. National Title IX attorney Joseph D. Lento has the skill, experience, and expertise to help you preserve your entitled rights under Title IX and your school's policy. For a case evaluation or more information about his representation, contact him online or give him a call at 888-535-3686 today.