Being accused of a crime is always terrifying, especially if you believe you are innocent. But when you’re a college student facing a Title IX disciplinary investigation that could permanently affect the rest of your future – and may have already hobbled your access to education and other resources – “terrifying” doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling.
Although sex crimes can and do happen on college campuses across the country, there are many cases where students are accused of sexual misconduct under Title IX and not given the benefit of due process. No matter what anyone in the school administration says, you have the right to an attorney in Title IX cases, and you have the right to defend your name and future. At Brad Bailey Law, our Boston criminal defense attorney has experience defending college students on campuses across the state of Massachusetts.
In this post, we’ll discuss what you can expect when you’ve been accused of a Title IX violation, and how you can begin to fight back against these claims.
What Is Title IX, and Why Does It Matter?
The law referred to as “Title IX” was implemented with good intentions. Under the Higher Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX prohibited discrimination in higher education on the basis of sex or gender, with the goal of providing a safe environment for all students and limiting the rampant problem of campus sexual assault.
Title IX also covers sexual misconduct and harassment claims in addition to discrimination, and these span an array of criminal offenses from rape to stalking. However, because the categories of misconduct are so broad, Title IX gives the university administration nearly unlimited power to perform their own investigative hearings outside of the law, and to offer permanent verdicts on the scholastic career of the accused. Far too many of these hearings are already weighted against the accused from the beginning, as officials are afraid of losing federal funding if the government believes they have not observed Title IX properly.
What to Do When You’re Facing Title IX Sexual Misconduct Claims
Once someone makes a formal report of sexual misconduct or harassment to university officials, the university can decide whether to pursue a Title IX investigation (note that they can choose to do so in spite of the alleged victim’s explicit requests to drop the investigation). You will be notified of the claim against you, usually by email or a phone call from a campus administrator or Title IX coordinator. That may be the extent of your notification about the case until the hearings begin, as school officials often fail to provide the accused with the full scope of the accusations against them.
While accused students are permitted to have legal representation accompany them during the investigations and hearings, often the students are not made fully aware of this right, and attempt to get through the process on their own. This may lead to a serious miscarriage of justice, and it can damage your future and your academic career.
Here are a few additional things to keep in mind if you’ve been accused of Title IX sexual misconduct:
- Carefully watch what you say when speaking with administrative officials. Anything you say to any party during the investigation process can be used against you, in the Title IX university proceedings and even in criminal court.
- Remember that there are no unbiased judges or required rules of evidence during a Title IX hearing. In the vast majority of cases, Title IX hearings are run by administrators and students, and often no one in the room has experience with applying due process in a courtroom setting. If you discuss the case with anyone, be extremely cautious about how you approach the conversation.
- Get all the details about the accusations that you can. Make sure to ask what exactly the charges against you are, and to be persistent if needed. If you are barred from contacting key witnesses or the complainant, don’t attempt to circumvent the rules: However, you can and should ask administrators why you have been barred from contact.
Above all, before you respond to any of the charges or attend a Title IX hearing, make sure you speak with a skilled defense attorney who has knowledge of these laws. At Brad Bailey Law, we’re committed to fighting for your future, especially when Title IX charges are brought against you and believed without due process. We know how schools often apply Title IX, and our criminal defense team is well-acquainted with these policies at Boston’s colleges.
If you need assistance from our Boston criminal defense attorney, contact us at 617-500-0252 today for a free consultation.