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Why is My College Student Charged with Title IX Violations? Reasons Behind the Charges and What to Do

Posted by Joseph D. Lento | Jul 28, 2017 | 0 Comments

College is supposed to be a time of intellectual and personal growth for students, and although parents may be sad to see their son or daughter leave the nest, they also know that college is often the first step in helping a young person mature into a successful adult.  Unfortunately, the path to becoming an adult is often fraught with risk.  Students in college, and even graduate school, are faced with various risks; some risks which are obvious, and others which are unfortunately not known until it may be too late. 

Being accused of sexual assault or other form of sexual misconduct is one such risk.  Although the risk may be known in an abstract sense, it is often not until an accused student and his or her family are faced with such a difficult situation that the potential implications start to reveal themselves.  The prospect of criminal charges unfortunately always accompanies such allegations, but most students and families will not realize that when a student is accused of Title IX violations, the student's college or university will invoke disciplinary proceedings under Title IX. 

Understanding why an accused student is being contacted by his or her school's Title IX office or Title IX officer will help the accused and his or her family understand what potentially lies ahead, and how to respond to such allegations.

Campus Disciplinary Issues - Locally and Nationwide

Parents unfortunately cannot be there for their children every step of the way.  Many times students attend colleges and universities far from home; sometimes hundreds of miles away, and sometimes thousands of miles away.  Some students go to school further away from home yet - Some of my closest friends from college were from other countries, and in my work representing students charged with campus disciplinary offenses, I have worked with many international students and their families.  Clients' families have been as far away as Europe, Asia, and the Middle East for example. 

Whether a student attends school locally, in the Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New Brunswick, or Newark area for example, or anywhere throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or nationwide, students will be faced with situations that they have never had to face before.  Peer pressure and alcohol and drug use can also complicate such situations, and unfortunately, decisions will be made by students that can change their entire lives in the blink of eye. 

One such situation is when a student is involved with an intimate partner.  Whether such a relationship is short-lived or is a longer term relationship that comes to an end, emotions will always be involved. When emotions, and at times alcohol and/or drugs are involved, the combination can be dangerous.  Due to events that may have seemed harmless at the time, a student away from home for the first time can later find themselves faced with an email or correspondence from their school's Title IX office.  Such an email or correspondence will often inform the student that he or she is subject to a Title IX complaint.  Such news will often be met with shock followed by serious concern. 

Help When Accused of Title IX Sexual Misconduct Offenses

I am never shocked when students and parents call me asking for help regardless of the circumstances at hand.  I have fought in the trenches, and I know that life can be challenging at times.  How a person responds to a challenge is what separates the strong from the weak.  Having handled countless campus disciplinary cases, I also understand the pressure that colleges and universities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide are under to aggressively combat sexual assault and to remain in compliance with federal policies mandated by the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights.  I share the serious concerns that come with allegations of Title IX sexual misconduct, and I cannot emphasize how much such concern is warranted. 

Students more often than parents, but also parents themselves, often do not recognize how much is at stake when a college student is accused of a Title IX violation.  The stakes will always be high regardless of whether a college student is accused of sexual assault, sexual misconduct, or sexual harassment.  Sexual violence is also a major part of Title IX policy, and includes such acts as rape, sexual battery, sexual abuse, and sexual coercion.  Although the nature of these kinds of acts alone should make the seriousness of the situation known, but this is not always the case for those who have never had to previously face such a burden.

When should I reach out for help after being contacted by my school's Title IX office or Title IX officer?

Whether a student contacts his or her parents, or a student's parents reach out on their son or daughter's behalf, help from outside the school itself should be sought immediately.  Colleges and universities have their attorneys involved in a Title IX case from the start, and to understand how to achieve the best possible outcome during what is often a long process, an accused student and his or her parents must exercise their rights and have the right person in their corner from the start; at a minimum, well in advance of a prospective hearing, and preferably before the accused student