PROVIDING LEGAL SERVICES THROUGHOUT NEW YORK STATE

585.270.8882

CALL US

CONTACT US

Written By: Robert King, Esq.
Legal Review By: Greg Colavecchia, Esq.
Accused of a Crime?
Get a Lawyer Now!

Title IX Defense Lawsuit Overview

A campus sexual assault, also known as a Title IX violation, is a sexual assault of an individual who is attending a college or university. Accusations of sexual assault on university or college campuses must be taken extremely seriously. Not only do students have the right to feel safe while on campus but they must also retain the right to be treated fairly by the law if they are accused of sexually assaulting someone.

At King Law, our campus sexual assault lawyers are here to protect the rights of the accused. We handle Title IX defense for those accused of on and off-campus violations such as rape, sexual assault, sexual harassment, and dating abuse.

On this page:

New Title IX Regulations – February 2024

There has been much discussion regarding proposed amendments to the Title IX regulations. Most recently, the Biden-Harris administration has proposed the following amendments which are expected to strengthen the protections for alleged victims of Title IX cases.

February 13, 2024: Title IX Rule Changes Likely Delayed Until Summer Amid Ongoing Review Process

New title IX rules are likely to be postponed again. The Biden administration has worked for several years to change how allegations of sexual assault are handled by colleges. The administration continues to say that Title IX changes could be ready as soon as March. The technical approval process however allows for comments and meetings at the United States Office of Budget and Management. Once the office of Budget and Management receive the draft the will meet and receive comment. They have 120 days to complete the process and can take more time to release their findings. When Title IX rules were changed previously the Office of Budget and Managment took the full time period. Therefore, it appears that new regulations are more likely this summer than in March. It is expected that new regulations will give colleges more flexibility as to how hearings are conducted. Some lawyers are against new rules that would reduce due process for the accused.

January 13, 2024: The value of an experienced Title IX attorney

There is no doubt that a Title IX accusation can have a lasting, if not permanent impact on the lives of the accused and their loved ones. It is not a stretch to believe that the accused is at risk of losing their education, their careers, and loss of relationships with friends and family. In a moment of reflection, it is sometimes a worthwhile exercise to look back at the successes we have had in defending students accused of Title IX violations. Those students whom we have helped in the last four years include a successful engineer, a student in a highly sought after PhD program, a teacher, a student continuing their Biomedical Engineering studies in addition to their commitment to being an ROTC Cadet, an owner of a financial company, and a student in a medical Master’s program focusing on cardiovascular surgery. With our tenacious advocacy, each of these students was able to continue their studies and obtain careers, despite the allegations that set out to jeopardize all of their hard work and accomplishments.

January 3, 2024

Amended Title IX regulations are scheduled to be released in March 2024. Although these amendments have been discussed for the past year, it has been announced that they will be released in two months.

November 2023

The month of October has come and went and the U.S. Department of Education has not yet approved the amended Title IX regulations. While these amendments were originally slated to take effect May, 2023, the U.S. Department of Education announced that they would be postponed until October 2023. As of this moment, a new date has not been announced. This pending announcement is of paramount importance to college students accused of sexual assault as the new amendments are anticipated to greatly increase the protections for the alleged victims of sexual assault.

October 2023

On the national level, it is has been widely discussed that the US Department of Education has proposed amendments to the Title IX regulations. These amendments are said to strengthen the rights of alleged victims during the Title IX process.  The proposed amendments include not requiring a live hearing and removing the requirement for cross-examination by the parties. These amendments will inevitably jeopardize the rights of the accused. The proposed amendments have been pushed back, but are expected to be announced this month.

What is Title IX?

Title IX is a federal law that forbids gender-related bias within educational institutions that receive funding from the federal government. Within higher education, Title IX encompasses measures against sexual misconduct. Since being signed into law in 1972, Title IX has been discussed in relation to equality between male and female athletes. In recent years, however, educational institutions, including colleges and universities, have intensified efforts to educate students about Title IX in relation to sexual misconduct and sexual violence, making students aware of their right to report violations. On the one hand, increased awareness made students feel like they will be heard and protected. On the other, unfortunately, it has also led to a rise in the filing of unfounded accusations.

How does a Title IX investigation work?

A Title IX investigation is the process undertaken by the academic institution to interview the parties and witnesses and to collect any evidence associated with the allegation. An accused student is entitled to have their advisor with them at all meetings and interviews conducted by the college. Unfortunately, the college does not always tell the accused student that they are conducting the interview. As an example, one college recently reached out to a client and told him that they wanted to have a “meeting” to discuss the Title IX process and answer any questions that he might have about the process. Never once did the college inform him that he was going to be interviewed. Luckily, our attorney was present and able to curtail the invasive nature of that interview. Had the student been alone, the interview would have likely occurred, and at that moment, without barely any knowledge of the accusation made against him. However unprepared the student may have been for the interview, whatever transpired during the interview would have stuck with him throughout the duration of the entire case, including the hearing. Another important thing to note about this initial interview, is that the academic institution will provide the basic “Notice of Allegations” but will not provide the accused with all information about the allegations.. The information that the student receives prior to the interview may be as basic as: “A Formal Complaint has been filed against you accusing you of having non consensual sexual contact with (person’s name) during the fall of 2021.”  That may have been years ago. It may have been September, it may have been December. It may be an inappropriate kiss or sexual intercourse. It may be alleged to have happened at your dorm room, their dorm room, or somewhere else. It may be alleged to have happened once or more than once. There is no way of knowing for sure. Yet, an accused student is expected to be interviewed without any relevant or specific knowledge about the accusations.

What would be a violation of Title IX?

A violation of Title IX could include sexual harassment, sexual assault, and dating/domestic violence. Definitions of these terms can and will be interpreted broadly and may include other behaviors that would not typically fall within the meanings of these terms. More specifically, allegations of offensive conduct encompassed within the meaning of these definitions may include some of the following:

  • Verbal arguments or physical confrontations between students in a dating relationship;
  • Stalking behavior such as repeatedly following another student, repeatedly appearing in places where the other student is, or repeatedly attempting to communicate with the other student;
  • Demeaning another student on the basis of their gender or sexual orientation;
  • Having sexual contact with another person who is too intoxicated to consent;
  • Having non-consensual sexual contact with another individual.

It is important to note that too many people are still confused about the definition of consent. What is consent? Consent is not limited to verbal consent (verbally asking another student if they want to engage in sexual intercourse). Consent can also include nonverbal consent, or in other words, nonverbal communication, such as body language, or actions, which lead another person to believe that they are comfortable with the sexual contact occurring or about to occur between the parties.

Title IX Regulations: Report and Investigation Process

Generally, a Title IX allegation begins with the filing of a complaint by the reporting student. Then, a college or university will open an investigation. After the academic institution has conducted its own investigation, they prepare a report outlining their findings.

Once this report is finalized, the investigation will be scheduled for a live hearing to determine whether there has been a sufficient amount of evidence presented against the accused to hold them responsible.

Unlike in a criminal case, where the proof must rise to the level of proof “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the proof in a college Title IX hearing is characterized as proof by a “preponderance of the evidence.

If found responsible for a Title IX violation, the accused is entitled to a limited opportunity to appeal.

Being accused of a Title IX violation on a college campus can have life-altering consequences, which may include the following:

  • Suspension
  • Expulsion
  • Notations on the college transcript

An experienced Title IX defense attorney will help you navigate the Title IX legal process.

Title IX Investigation Process

video background

Each college and university has adopted their own version of written policy on how to handle Title IX complaints. Still, each policy must be in accordance with federal law. The typical process for Title IX investigations, referred to as the grievance process, can be broken down into the following four main parts:

  1. Interview with investigators;
  2. Collection of evidence;
  3. Preparation for the hearing;
  4. The hearing.

Title IX investigations begin with the filing of a complaint by the reporting person.

Once a Title IX complaint is filed, the school will begin its investigation, which will commence with a Notice of Allegation being sent to the accused. If you receive this Notice, your first call should be to contact an experienced Title IX attorney, since the first decision an academic institution will make is whether or not to temporarily suspend a student while the investigation is pending.

Once the investigation begins, each party will be formally interviewed. It is important to highlight that the initial interview is part of the formal proceedings. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for colleges and universities to tell the accused that this process is merely “educational” or that the investigators just need to hear “your side of the story.” It should be remembered too that, unlike a defendant in a criminal proceeding, students subject to a Title IX investigation are not afforded the right to remain silent.

Many students who have been accused of a Title IX violation meet with investigators without representation, which may result in them jeopardizing their college future.

During the next stage witnesses will also be interviewed, and evidence collected. Once these stages are complete, the institution will compile the information into a final investigative report. Each party (the reporting party along with the accused), will have a chance to review the report and have the opportunity to request any changes to be made that they believe are appropriate.

video background

Once the investigation is complete, the next stage in the process will be a hearing.

After a Title IX hearing, the accused will be deemed either responsible or not responsible. If found responsible, the student will have a limited opportunity to appeal the decision. In order to succeed on an appeal, a student generally needs to successfully argue one of four points listed below:

  1. The sanction was too harsh;
  2. A procedural error took place during the investigation;
  3. New evidence was discovered that was not available during the investigation;
  4. The hearing board possessed a prejudice or bias against the student.

Title IX Investigation Timeline

While colleges aim to have these matters completed within a reasonable period of time, many cases can take up to 9 months to resolve. Many factors can affect the timeline, including the number of witnesses that have to be interviewed, the availability of witnesses, and the collection of evidence.

Generally, the hearing officers will not issue a decision at the conclusion of the hearing. Instead, they will send the official decision by email somewhere between 5-10 days later, depending on the college’s individual policy.

If you are accused of a Title IX violation, you are facing consequences which may include the following:

  • a notation on your official transcript;
  • suspension, or;
  • expulsion.

It is imperative that you hire an experienced attorney to represent you during this challenging time. Experience matters. Only an attorney who has experience in cross-examining witnesses, in handling Title IX matters, and most importantly, in winning Title IX cases, can navigate you through this complicated policy driven process.

At King Law, we have all the experience that matters. As a former prosecutor, Mr. Colavecchia handled hundreds of violent felony cases – thoroughly reviewing each of them and bringing them to trial. As a criminal defense attorney, he has represented hundreds of individuals accused of crimes. As a Title IX defense attorney, he has successfully defended numerous students accused of Title IX violations. His former clients are now successful individuals, including a doctorate student, an engineer, a teacher, a Master’s student studying cardiovascular surgery, and an Army Cadet. Each of them once faced a Title IX violation that jeopardized their future.

As stated above, the Title IX process is driven by policy. An accused student’s first step in the process is receiving and reviewing the Notice of Allegations that is emailed to them. This Notice of Allegations will not provide all of the details and only provides a ‘bare bones’ explanation of the allegation. Your defense of a Title IX investigation begins immediately. After receiving the Notice of Allegations, the first thing you must do is to hire an advisor and prepare for your initial interview. Having an attorney serve as your advisor will assist you in predicting what types of questions the investigators may ask you during that initial interview. While preparing for this interview, you and your advisor will begin collecting evidence and contacting witnesses. During the interview, you will provide a factual description of the events in question and present your evidence to them.

After the interview, a final report will be created by the investigators. This report will be the first time you will learn the full details of the investigation against you. You will also receive the written statement made by the alleged victim for the first time. You will be given ten days to review this report and to submit a response. You must critically analyze this report. Did the college interview all of the witnesses you requested? What did the alleged victim say, and most importantly, not say? Did he or she leave out certain critical facts that were not helpful to them? Does any of your physical evidence (text messages, photos, etc.) contradict what they have alleged?

After submitting a response to the final report, you and your advisor will begin preparing for the live hearing. The hearing will, in some ways, resemble a criminal trial. There will be an opening statement, testimony of the accuser, testimony of the accused, testimony of any witnesses, and finally a closing statement. The accused student will be responsible for providing their own opening and closing statement. The advisor will be responsible for cross-examining the accuser.

Preparing a Strong Title IX Defense Strategy

Every decision made in defending a Title IX case must be strategic. You should ask yourself: What evidence is important? Which witnesses have information that will be valuable to your defense? Too often, Title IX allegations are viewed in a vacuum – that is, what happened in the moments of the allegations. However, what is sometimes more important, is what took place prior to the allegations and what took place after?

In defending a Title IX case, no stone should be left unturned. In past cases, we have collected photographs, videos, social media posts, EZ Pass logs, and hired private investigators to meet with witnesses. We have gone to the locations of the allegations and took photographs and created layouts of the rooms. In the end, your goal is to prove that something didn’t happen – which can be challenging. Or, you are trying to prove that the allegations didn’t occur in the manner the accused is alleging.

All of the strategic decisions made during the course of the investigation are aimed at defending the student at a live hearing. However, in some situations, the investigation can be used to convince a college that the allegations lack merit and should not proceed to a live hearing, but should be dismissed. The investigation can also be utilized to negotiate a settlement, minimizing the consequences for the accused.

Title IX Defense Attorney

Perhaps the most important role of a Title IX lawyer throughout the Title IX lawsuit process is preparing you for the process. Many students often wonder: What does a hearing look like? What will be expected of me? How can I present my defense in the most logical and persuasive way?

Also, during the Title IX hearing, a Title IX defense attorney will have the opportunity to cross-examine the complainant along with any other witnesses that might provide testimony. This examination is oftentimes an extremely delicate and deliberate process that takes ample experience and meticulous preparation.

If you are facing allegations of a Title IX violation, contact King Law for a case evaluation.

How to File a Title IX Lawsuit

If a student’s rights are violated by a college during a Title IX investigation and the student suffers harm as a result, the student can file a lawsuit against the college in an attempt to recover monetary damages.

The process of filing a lawsuit includes filing a Summons and Complaint in court alleging the various causes of action the student has against the college.

Additionally, an accused student may be able to file slander and defamation lawsuits against their accuser if the allegations are proven to be false. Prior to reaching this stage, however, the most important step is protecting that student in the Title IX investigation.

Title IX Settlement Amounts

Title IX settlement amounts vary depending on the nature and degree of the wrong committed against the student by the college and/or the accuser and also upon the extent of the harm caused to the student. Harm caused to the student may include:

  • expulsion;
  • loss of scholarships;
  • loss of employment,
  • harm to the student’s reputation.

If the allegations are proven to be false, the student may be able to seek compensation.

Why hire King Law as your Title IX lawyers?

Frequently-Asked-Questions

What to do if you are accused of a Title IX violation?
The first thing you should do if you are accused of a Title IX violation is contact an experienced attorney to serve as your advisor. The next step you should take is to preserve every potential piece of evidence that you have. This can include, but is not limited to text messages, call logs, photographs, and social media posts. You should also put together a list of potential witnesses whom you believe have information relative to the allegation that you would like your attorney to interview.
Can you hire a lawyer if accused under Title IX?
Yes. Every student accused of a Title IX violation is entitled to have an advisor of their choosing. You can and should hire a lawyer to serve as your advisor.
Does the accused person in a Title IX investigation have any rights?
The due process rights of the accused in a Title IX investigation are less than those who are accused in a criminal case. In fact, if you ask anyone who has been accused of a Title IX violation, they would probably tell you that they did not feel that they were treated fairly. It is imperative to have an attorney to protect the rights you do have.
How much are the judgments on Title IX wrongful accusations?
Pursuing a civil claim against your college or university is a possible recourse to being falsely accused and/or wrongly convicted after a Title IX hearing. Verdicts and settlements will depend on the egregiousness of the investigation and the amount of harm caused to the accused student.
What would be a violation of Title IX?
Title IX violations consist of sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, and dating/domestic violence. These cases can range from arguments between partners to nonconsensual sexual intercourse. These terms are defined by each college’s individual policy in accordance with federal law – but will be interpreted broadly and will include behavior you wouldn’t otherwise think violates Title IX.
What did the Final Rule add to Title IX?
In 2020, a drastic amendment was made to Title IX which increased the role of advisors during Title IX hearings. Previously, only the accused student could cross-examine the reporting party and any witnesses. Beginning in August of 2020, that rule was amended to allow cross-examination to be completed by an Advisor. This makes the hiring of an experienced attorney to serve as your advisor all the more important.
Does Title IX apply to private schools?
Yes. Title IX applies to any educational institution who receives federal funding, even if they are a private institution.
What does Title IX prohibit?
Title IX prohibits sex-based discrimination at any educational institution that receives federal funds from the United States Government. This includes sexual harassment, sexual assault, and dating/domestic violence.
Does Title IX apply to High Schools?
Yes. Title IX applies to any educational institution receiving federal funding.
Does Title IX apply to employees?
Yes. If you are an employee of a college or university, you can also be accused of a Title IX violation.
What is a Title IX investigation?
Once a formal complaint alleging a Title IX violation is filed, the college or university will send the accused student a “Notice of Allegations” providing them with a very general statement of what they are accused of. Next, the college will conduct an investigation, either through an investigator employed by the college, or sometimes a private investigator hired by the college. The investigation will include an interview of both parties, any witnesses suggested by the parties, and the collection of evidence relevant to the investigation. This investigation will then be summarized in a final investigative report. This report is extremely important as it will be provided to the hearing board members and serve as their first impression of the case, prior to the hearing. Importantly, an accused student is entitled to have their advisor present with them during all meetings with the academic institution, including the interview process, and should take advantage of that.
Are Title IX complaints public?
No. Title IX complaints are not public documents.
Who can file a Title IX complaint?
A formal complaint is filed by the alleged victim of the accusation. It should also be noted that this person cannot remain anonymous and must be identified in the Title IX grievance process.
Who does Title IX apply to?
Title IX applies to all students and employees of educational institutions.
How does Title IX protect students?
Title IX is extremely important and all instances of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and dating/domestic violence should be thoroughly investigated. Title IX provides standard protocols and procedures across the country to ensure that the instances are investigated. Unfortunately, there has been an increase in the number of false or exaggerated claims of Title IX violations and it should be remembered that students accused of violating Title IX are afforded less due process rights than if the case were to appear in criminal court. For example, the burden of proof for Title IX violations is significantly lower than in court. Secondly, the evidentiary standards at Title IX hearings are more relaxed and allow for information that is not necessarily credible, such as hearsay, to be introduced. While educational institutions claim that this evidentiary standard promotes due process and fairness to the parties, that is not always the case. Thus, it is highly recommended to have an attorney serve as your advisor. Such an appointment will certainly serve to protect both your rights and your interests.
What happens when you file a Title IX complaint?
After a Title IX complaint, the accused person receives the “Notice of Allegations,” which is a basic generalized statement of the accusations. Next, the college will conduct an investigation and the case will proceed to a hearing to determine responsibility.
Are Title IX reports public record?
No. Title IX reports are not public and should not be available to the general public. However, the records of a Title IX investigation are not completely “sealed.” If you are found responsible for a Title IX violation and are suspended or expelled, or alternatively, if you withdraw from the college or transfer to a different college while an investigation is pending, you will have a notation on your college transcript that will identify you as having either been suspended or expelled for a Title IX violation or that you withdrew or transferred while an investigation was pending – both of which will have significant consequences on your future. There are also other circumstances under which academic institutions are bound by law to release information about a Title IX violation. The most common example is if you apply to transfer to another college or decide to pursue a graduate degree, the college that you are applying to will contact your previous college to learn more about the prior Title IX violation.
What is a Title IX complaint?
A Title IX complaint is an accusation filed by either the alleged victim, or some other witness to an alleged Title IX violation that commences a full Title IX investigation. Colleges will sometimes refer to this investigation as their “grievance process.”
Does Title IX apply to off-campus allegations?
It depends. Allegations are considered Title IX violations if they occur during an education program or activity. If you are off campus at a school sponsored event or located on property owned by the college, but off campus, it will be covered under the college’s Title IX grievance policy. If the sexual harassment, sexual assault, and/or dating/domestic violence occurs off campus, it will not be considered a Title IX violation, but you may be charged under the college’s more general student code of conduct.
How does a Title IX investigation work?
A Title IX investigation is the process undertaken by the academic institution to interview the parties and witnesses and to collect any evidence associated with the allegation. An accused student is entitled to have their advisor with them at all meetings and interviews conducted by the college. Unfortunately, the college does not always tell the accused student that they are conducting the interview. As an example, one college recently reached out to a client and told him that they wanted to have a “meeting” to discuss the Title IX process and answer any questions that he might have about the process. Never once did the college inform him that he was going to be interviewed. Luckily, our attorney was present and able to curtail the invasive nature of that interview. Had the student been alone, the interview would have likely occurred, and at that moment, without barely any knowledge of the accusation made against him. However unprepared the student may have been for the interview, whatever transpired during the interview would have stuck with him throughout the duration of the entire case, including the hearing. Another important thing to note about this initial interview, is that the academic institution will provide the basic “Notice of Allegations” but will not provide the accused with all information that would assist him or her in defending themselves. The information that the student receives prior to the interview may be as basic as: “A Formal Complaint has been filed against you accusing you of having non consensual sexual contact with (person’s name) during the fall of 2021.”  That may have been years ago. It may have been September, it may have been December. It may be an inappropriate kiss or sexual intercourse. It may be alleged to have happened at your dorm room, their dorm room, or somewhere else. It may be alleged to have happened once or more than once. There is no way of knowing for sure. Yet, an accused student is expected to be interviewed without any relevant or specific knowledge about the accusations.
How long do Title IX investigations take?
While colleges aim to have these matters completed within a reasonable period of time, most cases can take anywhere from 4 to 9 months. There are, of course, factors that can cause this timeline to vary, such as breaks from school and the unavailability of witnesses.