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.
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.
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:
- Notations on the college transcript
An experienced Title IX defense attorney will help you navigate the Title IX legal process.
Title IX Investigation Process
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:
- Interview with investigators;
- Collection of evidence;
- Preparation for the hearing;
- 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.
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:
- The sanction was too harsh;
- A procedural error took place during the investigation;
- New evidence was discovered that was not available during the investigation;
- 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.
Importance of Legal Representation for the Accused
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;
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.
Navigating the Title IX Process
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:
- 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?
- King Law recently secured an acquittal of campus rape charges for a client.
- 80% of our sex crime cases end with reduced sentences or total dismissals.
- We have an “Excellent” Avvo Rating and more than 100 five-star Google reviews.
- We have handled hundreds of trial cases.
- We have a proven track record of successful Title IX victories.