Title IX

Title IX Campus Discipline Proceedings

An allegation of sexual assault, harassment or other sexual misconduct (such as date rape or non-consensual touching) on a college campus is very often investigated, prosecuted and adjudicated by the school itself and not through a criminal proceeding involving local law enforcement.

When a formal complaint alleging sexual misconduct is filed with a college by one student against another student, the federal law known as Title IX currently requires the school to conduct a proceeding to determine whether the incident occurred and what punishment should be imposed.

Michael J. Diamondstein, PC defends students facing sexual misconduct charges in campus Title IX proceedings.

We have represented students in Title IX campus discipline hearings at numerous colleges and universities, including:

What is Title IX?

Title IX is a federal civil rights law that prohibits gender discrimination at any school that receives funding from the US government. That includes virtually every college and university in the country.

Title IX grants broad powers to schools to investigate and adjudicate student sexual misconduct claims. In almost all of these cases, the student filing the formal complaint (the complainant) is female, and the defendant student (respondent) is male.

How do Title IX Proceedings Work?

An on-campus Title IX proceeding is not a criminal case involving the government but the procedures are similar to a criminal prosecution and the punishments can be serious. Most colleges will respond to a sexual misconduct complaint by:

  • Appointing a college administrator to investigate the allegations
  • Interviewing the complainant, respondent, and their friends
  • Allowing the complainant to cherry pick the evidence she/he turns over (i.e. text messages, social media posts)
  • Giving the complainant broad authority to produce evidence in almost any form, but denying to the accused student most discovery, cross-examination, and other due process rights
  • Convening a panel of faculty and administrators to conduct a formal hearing that presents the evidence from both sides
  • Empowering the panel to decide guilt or innocence, and the sanctions imposed on the guilty party

What happens to a student found guilty in a Title IX proceeding?

If a respondent student is found responsible for sexual misconduct, the sanctions can be severe. Colleges can impose a variety of punishments, including:

  • Permanent expulsion from school
  • Suspensions for one semester or more
  • Mandatory relocation to a different dormitory, or exclusion from college housing altogether (required to live off-campus)
  • Restrictions on speaking to, or having any other contact, with the complainant and her friends
  • Mandatory withdrawal from any classes that include the complainant
  • Notation on the respondent’s official college transcript of the Title IX proceeding and its verdict

THESE SANCTIONS CAN PERMANENTLY AFFECT THE STUDENT’S EDUCATION AND CAREER PROSPECTS. With a guilty verdict in a Title IX proceeding on the student’s permanent record, he could be:

  • Denied acceptance to another college or graduate school
  • Disqualified from certain professional licenses
  • Rejected by employers after a background check

Why should I engage a defense lawyer for my student?

THESE CASES ARE COMPLICATED. They often turn on he-said/she-said versions of the events. In many cases, alcohol and/or drugs may be involved. The students’ memories can be unclear and the consent to sexual contact can be ambiguous. In a very high percentage of campus sexual allegations, law enforcement and an ongoing criminal investigation or prosecution may also be involved.

Michael J. Diamondstein will:

  • Ensure that you understand the college’s investigation and hearing procedures
  • Prepare your student for investigator interviews and the Title IX hearing
  • Depending on the school procedure, help prepare the student to cross-examine the complainant and other witnesses at the hearing to uncover inconsistencies in their testimony
  • Coordinate the Title IX proceeding with any related criminal charge or prosecution and make sure that the student does not compromise his/her rights
  • If necessary, file a federal civil lawsuit and/or temporary restraining order against the college/university

DON’T DELAY RETAINING A DEFENSE LAWYER. Title IX cases often proceed more quickly than normal criminal cases with less time to prepare for interviews and hearings. You have a better chance of a favorable result if a defense lawyer is involved early in the process.

If your college student is facing charges in a campus Title IX case, call Michael J. Diamondstein, P.C. at 215-940-2700 or submit our contact form