Title Ix: Sexual misconduct investigations & proceedings

If you are accused of sexual discrimination or misconduct at, in, or related to an educational environment, your school is required to promptly investigate the allegation under Title IX. This includes accusations of:

  • Sexual harassment 
  • Sexual violence
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Stalking on the basis of sex
  • Bullying/hazing on the basis of sex
  • Gender identity harassment 

Your school may issue interim measures (immediate action) while the investigation is ongoing that may include no contact orders and housing relocations. Additionally, a criminal investigation may occur simultaneously to the school's investigation.The procedure is stressful on you as a student, and can have serious adverse effects on your health and grades. 

How can we help? Most importantly, we understand the school's policies and procedures as well as the governing federal and state law. Our main job is to gather evidence, information, witnesses and advise you on and prepare you for the best possible framework for your defense. Presenting a clear narrative with supporting facts makes the difference in many of the "he-said, she-said" circumstances college students are facing. 

We often find that un-represented students accused of sexual assault focus on the wrong defense and make big mistakes along the way. Our team of attorneys prepare student clients for interviews and hearings, draft written statements, raise objections, protect constitutional rights (especially when a criminal investigation is occurring simultaneously), and keep the school accountable to their own policies and procedures. 

This area of law is changing drastically. As of September 2017, The Department of Education has issued new, interim guidelines on how colleges should handle allegations and investigations of sexual misconduct on campus. It is slightly more protective of the rights of accused students and permits colleges to have more choice in how to handle investigations.

What you should know regarding the recent changes:

  • Schools may opt to use the higher “clear and convincing” standard of proof to find an accused student responsible (meaning, it is highly probably that the misconduct occurred). This is a change from the previously mandated, lower “preponderance” standard (meaning, it is just more likely than not that the misconduct occurred);
  • The burden is on the school – not on the parties – to gather sufficient evidence to reach a fair, impartial determination as to whether sexual misconduct has occurred and if so, whether a hostile environment has been created that must be redressed;
  • Informal mediation is now available to resolve complaints, if both parties agree to it;
  • A previously imposed suggestion of 60 days to resolve investigations has been changed to “reasonably prompt” (not defined); and
  • Colleges can now set their own policy regarding who can appeal the decision of the investigation. Previously, schools had to allow both the accuser as well as the accused the opportunity to appeal the outcome. Some schools may switch to only allowing the accused to appeal.

Many colleges are choosing not to change their existing policies under this new direction from the Department of Education. A formal rule making procedure will be ongoing, and a new directive will be on the horizon. For more information: 

The 2017 Dear Colleague Letter: 

https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-title-ix-201709.pdf

Q&A issued by the Dept: 

https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/qa-title-ix-201709.pdf

See your school's Title IX policies here:

Questions? Call us. 614.368.5100