The Basics of Title IX
As a college student, being accused of a Title IX offense can be harmful to your reputation. People accused of gender discrimination, harassment, or sexual assaults do not fare well in public opinion. The Title IX complaint resolution is a complicated process, and school administrators may be biased against you. It is in your best interests to have an experienced lawyer by your side if you are facing Title IX allegations.
What Is Title IX?
Title IX is a federal civil rights law. It was passed as part of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 to protect individuals from discrimination based on sex in education programs and activities that receive federal funding. This law states that “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.”
Any institution receiving federal funding from the Department of Education, including local and state educational agencies, is subject to Title IX and must operate in a nondiscriminatory manner. These institutions are also prohibited from retaliating against any person for opposing unlawful practices or policies, filing charges, testifying, or participating in any complaint action under Title IX.
Sexual Assault Accusations Under Title IX
Title IX hearings in the context of higher education have been in the news in recent years. Cases involving accusations of physical and sexual assault arising in universities throughout the state can lead to felony sex crimes being filed in criminal courts. Unfounded and uncorroborated claims of sexual improprieties can derail a student’s life. While Title IX is helping to minimize bias and discrimination on the basis of sex, the investigation and enforcement aspects offer students accused of misconduct little in the way of due process protections that would be provided in a formal court setting.
How Do Title IX Proceedings Work?
Proceedings are initiated when administrative officers of the school receive a report of sex-based discrimination. The report may concern alleged actions of one student against another, or of a faculty member against a student. In many cases, these complaints allege some type of sexual misconduct, in the form of sexual harassment, sexually inappropriate comments, or sexual assault (a criminal allegation).
After proceedings begin, the accused student’s standing with the school is in jeopardy, and that student may also be subject to criminal prosecution. If the Title IX administrative commission finds him or her guilty, a student can be expelled, or a faculty member dismissed. Depending on the nature of the allegations, the accused may also face penalties that include a possible state prison sentence.
Defending Against Accusations of Title IX Violations
Although due process protections provided in on-campus Title IX hearings are weaker than protections provided in formal court proceedings, the accused has the opportunity to be represented by an advocate in the proceedings. Effective advocacy is crucial in this setting, which has a lower standard of proof than criminal court. An experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can investigate the accusations and prepare a defense to increase your chances of a successful hearing and have the criminal charges dropped before they go to court.
With your future on the line, it is critical to get legal help as soon as possible. Presenting a plausible alternative to the accuser’s version of events is an essential part of effective advocacy. Our experienced criminal defense lawyers at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP can:
- Investigate the alleged conduct to undermine false accusations
- Interview witnesses
- Search social media for contemporaneous postings by the accused, the accuser, and other parties with knowledge of events
- Attempt to negotiate with the school and/or the accuser
- Represent you at the Title IX hearing
If you have been accused of Title IX violations, contact us today at (213) 688-0460 to schedule a free initial consultation.