Title IX Defense: Should I Retain a Lawyer?
The introduction of Title IX into America’s educational institutions sought to ensure equal opportunity for women in the educational setting. Previously restricted in the ability to participate in certain sports, classes, or even entire specialties in higher education, the government intervened in a sincere and necessary effort to support gender equality in education. Though many of the original goals have been achieved, Title IX is still relevant today as it has been invoked to safeguard against all forms of gender discrimination in education, including student on student sexual harassment and sexual assault.
Our team at Parisi, Coan & Saccocio, PLLC defends students who have been accused of sexual misconduct in Title IX cases. While we do not support or condone sexual harassment or assault, we hold a deep belief that all persons accused of such misconduct should be presumed innocent and afforded a fair and impartial process of investigation and adjudication. This is not just our belief; it is guaranteed by law.
Are You Facing Title IX Accusations?
Unlike civil or criminal cases that are determined in a court of law, Title IX complaints are resolved (i.e. investigated and adjudicated) on campus. Because these cases do not fall within the purview of the court system, procedures and rights commonly believed to belong to the accused party may not be afforded to a Title IX respondent. Here’s what you need to know if you’re facing allegations under Title IX.
What Is Title IX?
If you have not heard of Title IX before, you are not alone. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 reads:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
This statute covers all schools, both public and private, that accept federal funds. It enforces broad protections for any discrimination based upon gender. Students and faculty can use it to seek redress for anything from exclusion from groups or activities (based upon gender) to allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault. In addition, another federal law, the Clery Act, provides students the ability to seek redress for claims of dating or domestic violence and stalking. Title IX and the Clery Act address claims that implicate these offenses because, if found to be true, they impair the complainant’s ability to avail themselves of the full educational opportunities offered by their institution due to their gender.
What Are My Rights in a Title IX Investigation?
Every year thousands of Title IX investigations take place at hundreds of universities across the country. None of them take place in a court of law—they are a solely internal university matters, with the punishment delivered in the form of sanctions rather than fines or incarcerations. Each school, although governed by basic frameworks set by law, establishes its own procedures and processes to handle cases that arise at their institutions.
Typically, the rights afforded to respondents in the university procedures and processes do not come close to matching that the rights that are afforded in a criminal or civil case heard in a court of law. Many persons accused of Title IX violations do not realize that these campus investigations and adjudications hardly resemble a court case at all. Though a campus Title IX charge is brought against an individual respondent, it is the school that possesses the legal obligation to investigate and adjudicate the allegation. Thus, Title IX complaints can be made even if no criminal suit has been or will be filed against the accused.
Do I Need a Lawyer for a Title IX Investigation?
Title IX cases require thoughtful legal advice that covers all the legal issues associated with Title IX and Clery Act law and the student disciplinary process, especially when considering potential criminal charges or civil claims. It is important to have experienced legal counsel licensed to practice law in the state where the alleged student misconduct took place. A licensed attorney in that state will ensure that the student receives important and complete legal advice and counseling.
In addition, the student must understand that the protections of attorney-client confidentiality will not apply to non-lawyer Title IX advisors made available by the institution. This is incredibly important when the student is sharing information about their Title IX case that may be the focus of a criminal investigation/prosecution or a potential civil claim.
An experienced Title IX lawyer can help you understand:
- The allegations made and your school’s process for investigating them
- What rights you do (and do not) possess
- How to prepare a strong defense
- Whether you may need additional legal support during the investigation or after it finishes
At Parisi, Coan & Saccocio, PLLC, we do that and more, advocating for our clients whenever possible, attending hearings and investigative interviews, and ensuring your rights are not violated in the investigation process. We strongly advise anyone accused under Title IX to enlist help as soon as you find out the complaint has been made.
Call us at (737) 200-2332 or reach out online to discuss your Title IX case today.