Your education, career, or life shouldn’t be derailed because of baseless allegations. But when college students or staff are accused of sexual misconduct, you are not only exposed to administrative penalties under Title IX, you may also face serious criminal charges.
If you or a loved one are being investigated for a Title IX violation in Texas, do not assume that large schools like Baylor, the University of Houston, or Rice University are looking out for you. Colleges, both public and private across the U.S., are under immense pressure to take sex offenses seriously.
As with any criminal case, getting an attorney involved early improves your chances of a successful outcome. When we are hired on a Title IX matter, it is our full intent to seek a dismissal before criminal charges are ever filed. This will help ensure that your future, both academically and beyond, is minimally impacted.
Title IX Criminal Investigations
Whenever sexual allegations are made at school, they also usually lead to a parallel sex crime investigation.
Once law enforcement gets a report of a sex crime, they investigate. If sufficient evidence exists, they’ll make an arrest and forward the case to the prosecution. Then, the prosecutor will analyze the strength of the case and make a determination regarding formal sex crime charges like rape or sexual assault, being filed against you.
A lot will depend on the specific facts involved, and despite what happens during your Title IX hearing, a sex crime conviction means harsh penalties. So, in addition to possible expulsion and losing a teaching job, you’ll face prison time, years of probation, and life-altering registration as a sex offender.
What is Title IX?
Most people associate Title IX with sex discrimination and equal educational opportunities. However, this federal law also extends to investigations involving sexual misconduct in academic environments.
Originally passed as the Educational Amendments of 1972, Title IX requires schools to provide equal access to facilities and programs to men and women. Over the years, however, its role grew. Title IX now mandates that any public or private school that receives federal funding must investigate reports of sexual violence as discrimination because they prevent the alleged victim from benefiting from their education.
This forces institutions to conduct independent investigations into sexually-charged claims. Witnesses are interviewed, evidence is collected, and statements from those involved are reviewed by school officials and contracted legal teams without offering the accused the basic protections of a criminal investigation. You likely won’t be able to cross-examine witnesses or even be aware of all the evidence involved.
Title IX Hearings & Consequences
Title IX proceeding are a lot different than criminal or civil cases and vary from school to school. But accused students and faculty members are often left to defend themselves in an administrative hearing similar to a tribunal.
These investigations and hearings can last over a year and may result in disciplinary action that includes possible suspension, expulsion, and permanent marks on your academic or employment record.
This is all done without the normal burden of proof as in a criminal case. In a Title IX proceeding, the allegations and evidence must only show a “preponderance of evidence.” This only means that it’s more likely than not that you engaged in sexual misconduct. And it’s a relatively low standard when you consider the long-term implications of being found culpable.
Title IX & Lack of Consent
Under Title IX, “It is the responsibility of each person involved in sexual activity to ensure that s/he has the Affirmative Consent of the other participant(s). Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative Consent can be withdrawn or revoked, cannot be given by a person who is incapacitated.”
Lack of consent is a common aspect in many sexual offense allegations in a university setting. For example, individuals are often accused for actions they thought were consensual, but have since been clouded by time or intoxication.
Your Rights Under Title IX
Schools take these procedures seriously because failure to comply can result in losing federal funding. It’s also important to keep in mind that you do not have the same rights as the accused, however under Title IX rules:
- You Must be provided with written notice of your accuser’s complaint.
- The burden of proof and obligation to collect evidence is with the school.
- The school must give you the chance to present evidence.
- Schools cannot block you from discussing the allegations.
- You may choose your own advisor or Title IX attorney to mount a defense.
- The school must issue any requests for interviews or hearings in writing.
- You are entitled to an investigative report that fairly summarized the evidence.
- Your school must prove written notice of any disciplinary action.
- You are entitled to appeal an adverse decision.
- Your school cannot access your private medical records without written consent.
What a Title IX Attorney Can Do to Help
Do not underestimate the significance of a Title IX sexual misconduct allegation. Your university’s Title IX discipline policy can devastate your reputation, education, and career. In addition, the potential criminal charges will be virtually impossible to recover from.
However early intervention from an experienced defense lawyer can drastically help your situation. You’ll need guidance in how your particular school approaches Title IX, and how to deal with veteran police investigators, simultaneously and aggressively looking into the claims against you.
This can feel overwhelming, but by being proactive in the beginning of a sex offense case with help from a lawyer, you can typically gather critical evidence. This could be the difference in proving your innocence, properly explaining the nature of a relationship, and improving the odds of resolving things before formal charges are filed or a Title IX investigation gets too far.
Even if your situation gets past the investigation phase, a lawyer can help assess the evidence and prepare a defense that preserves your education and livelihood. If charges are filed, an experienced attorney will also work to limit the evidence against you and fight to secure the best possible outcome, like reduced charges or dismissal.
As a former state and federal prosecutor, attorney Ned Barnett has insight into the investigative process, and can better anticipate the actions of law enforcement. With over 30 years of experience handling sex crime cases and a history of success even before charges are filed, attorney Barnett knows how to protect your freedom and reputation.
Consult Title IX Attorney Ned Barnett Now
Regardless if it comes from school administrators or the police, you have the right to consult an attorney before making any statement or answering questions about sexual misconduct. When you become aware of an accusation or complaint filed against you, do not delay in contacting The Law Offices of Ned Barnett.
Call (713) 222-6767 24/7 to set up a free and confidential consultation.