What Should I Do to Prepare for a Title IX Hearing?

Mar. 26, 2020 By Andrew Miltenberg

What Should I Do to Prepare for a Title IX Hearing?

If you or your child has been accused of sexual misconduct in a college setting, you will face a complex process to determine your guilt or innocence. Central to this process will be a hearing before a college official or a panel of officials. You need to prepare for this hearing thoroughly and carefully.

The first step is to study your school’s procedures for the hearing. These should be laid out in the Student Handbook or otherwise provided to you. A critical issue is the  standard of proof for conviction.  A school is permitted to use either a “preponderance of the evidence” or a higher “clear and convincing evidence” standard for a finding of responsibility. Know which standard your school will apply.  Also know how your school defines “consent” under various circumstances such as if one or both students are arguably intoxicated.

The school must conduct a fundamentally fair hearing process and provide you the opportunity to present your case and submit questions to cross-examine the accuser and their witnesses.

To prepare for the hearing, you must gather evidence and identify potential witnesses. Evidence typically consists of text messages, phone records, social media, and videos. Witnesses are persons who observed any part of the events in question or persons to whom the accuser made any statements prior to, during, or after the events.

Statement of Your Defense

You will be provided an opportunity to give an opening statement of your defense. In doing so, refer to the favorable evidence, give copies of it to the panel and describe what it demonstrates that favors your case. Even though the panel will have been given the investigative report for review, do not assume the panel will read the evidence on their own. Point out all of the highlights of your case. Also identify the witnesses you will call and give a summary of their testimony. Put it together to argue that you are not responsible for the charges.


The accuser will usually go first to make a statement at the hearing. These hearings exert a great deal of emotional expression and there’s a chance that any preconceived bias on the panel may be in the accuser’s favor. Try to remain calm and focused. Getting angry will not help you. Stick to the facts. Remember: Each person involved in the hearing has their own recollection of the transpiring events.

Questioning the Accuser

Be selective in submitting questions to ask the accuser. Try to ask “yes or no” questions about the events that don’t give them a chance to provide excuses or inaccuracies. This is difficult to do and to know when to stop. Your goal is to have the complainant admit favorable facts that are not reasonably in dispute. 

Answering Questions

This is a critical part of the hearing. If there are facts or evidence that could be perceived as unfavorable to you, have a Title IX attorney help you to address or distinguish them. It is not wrong to admit to minor things that you can’t dispute. Admitting you were drinking alcohol is not admitting you committed sexual assault. Your goal is to preserve credibility as to the key elements of your defense.

Concluding Statement

After you have completed presenting your case, you may be allowed to make a closing impact statement. The concluding statement should heavily reference the evidence, testimony, admissions by the accuser, and omissions that make the accuser’s charges unlikely to be true. Wrap it all together to summarize your argument. Finally, discuss the impact the process and allegations have had upon your academic year in school and other areas of your life.

The Need for a Title IX Defense Attorney

Defending a student at a Title IX hearing is like defending at a trial. It is actually more difficult because the panel is likely to begin with a belief in favor of the accuser who is making a case against you. You need the expertise of a Title IX defense attorney who can review the school’s procedures and help you with every aspect of your hearing and defense. The earlier you retain a Title IX lawyer, the better prepared you will be.

A Title IX lawyer is an experienced trial lawyer with expertise in college disciplinary hearings and school procedures. If you are denied due process or there is an inherent bias against you, the Title IX defense lawyer will assist you in preserving the record for an appeal and a possible Title IX lawsuit against the school if the ultimate result is unfavorable.

Our attorneys are Title IX defense specialists and we have helped hundreds of accused students across the country who have been treated unfairly by their schools. Call us at 212-736-4500 or contact us as soon as a complaint is filed and we will be there aggressively protecting your rights, ensuring a fundamentally fair process, or establishing the deficiencies that will lead a court to reverse the school’s adverse findings. There is no fee for a private consultation.

Because every school’s procedures and each individual’s situation are different, this blog does not constitute legal advice.