Title IX Defense
If you, or your son or daughter has been accused of sexual misconduct by their college or university, contact us today. Title IX investigations can result in severe and life altering consequences for the accused student, up to and including expulsion from school and potential criminal liability. Hiring an experienced defense attorney can significantly alter the outcome of the investigation.
History of Title IX
Like all great civil rights laws, Title IX initially had a noble purpose. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a law that provides: No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
Title IX applies to all educational institutions, both public and private, that receive federal funds. Almost all private colleges and universities must adhere to Title IX regulations; they also receive federal funding through federal financial aid programs.
Every college and university has a detailed written policy defining sexual misconduct.
In 2011, the US Department of Education issued a letter, known as the "Dear Colleague Letter", which created a framework for colleges and universities to create a quasi-judicial system within the school to hear and adjudicate claims of sexual harassment and/or misconduct by students. Thus, Title IX has become a tool for colleges and universities to investigate and adjudicate claims of sexual misconduct between or among students.
A Lower Standard of Proof
Oftentimes, the allegations of sexual misconduct contained activities that were potentially criminal in nature. In the US Courts, the standard of proof in criminal matters is quite high: a prosecutor must demonstrate that beyond a reasonable doubt, the alleged conduct happened. This means that if any reasonable doubt exists in the jury's mind, they must acquit the defendant.
In civil cases in US Courts, the standard of proof is lower. This standard is called the preponderance of evidence standard. What this means is that if the jury thinks it is more likely than not that the plaintiff is correct, then the jury must find for the plaintiff. In other words, if the jury believes it is 51% likely that the plaintiff is correct, then the jury must find against the defendant.
The Dear Colleague Letter directed colleges and universities to use the lowest standard of proof to determine whether students had violated the sexual misconduct policy. In many Title IX investigations, the only evidence submitted by the students is their own testimony, the classic "he said/she said" situation. The outcome of many Title IX investigations is that college administrators, who are not trained police investigators or judges, have to make a credibility decision. Who do they believe more? Many Title IX investigations are determined on this basis.
Serious and Far Reaching Consequences
If a college or university issues a finding of responsibility against you, that has far reaching consequences. You may be suspended or expelled from school. You may end up with material in your student file that will render thoughts of applying for graduate or professional school impossible. Finally, the accused student may have criminal liability as well.