What to Expect from My Lawyer During a Title IX Investigation

Dec. 12, 2019 By Andrew Miltenberg

What to Expect from My Lawyer During a Title IX Investigation

If you are a student or the parent of a student who has received a notice of investigation in a sexual harassment or sexual assault complaint at college, you need to hire a specialized Title IX defense lawyer as early as possible in the process.

Title IX of the Civil Rights Act is a federal law that prohibits colleges and universities from discriminating on the basis of sex or gender. The law applies to private as well as public institutions.

Title IX has been used by alleged victims of sexual misconduct to seek remedies against colleges that don’t take enough action against persons accused of misconduct. But courts have also ruled that Title IX forbids imposing university discipline where gender is a motivating factor in the decision to discipline. 

Every school has a different procedure for handling Title IX cases. A Title IX lawyer has the experience and know-how to navigate a school’s procedures for the conduct of a disciplinary proceeding that may be highly favorable to the accuser and adverse to your interests. These procedures should be stated in the student handbook, sexual misconduct policy or otherwise made available to you by the school. A Title IX defense lawyer is skilled at reviewing these procedures to find inherent bias or lack of due process or fundamental fairness in how disciplinary proceedings are conducted at your school.

Many schools begin with an investigation by a university official, typically selected by a Title IX coordinator. A Title IX defense lawyer will be your advisor advocating for you throughout the process, unlike a university trained advisor who is appointed to you by the school to follow their rules.  A Title IX attorney will prepare you for the investigator’s interviews, and review the investigator’s report for inherent bias or failure to properly consider or weigh evidence. If changes cannot be made to the report, the Title IX defense lawyer will know how to preserve the record for a federal lawsuit if the investigator or hearing panel finds you responsible for the alleged offense. 

The Title IX attorney will advise and counsel you throughout the process on how to be treated fundamentally fairly by the school and with the absence of bias in the conduct of the proceeding.  This means you or the attorney are allowed to review all materials presented by the accuser, have the right to hear testimony and submit questions to cross-examine the accuser and her witnesses, and provide your own materials and your own witnesses for consideration. Many schools do not provide these rights to the accused and the Title IX defense lawyer will fight for you to obtain due process or preserve the record for a federal lawsuit, if necessary.

If you are adjudged responsible for the alleged behavior, many schools allow for an appeal to the President of the college or another senior officer. The Title IX lawyer will be at your side to prepare the best possible appeal as well as seeking to delay any sanctions until the appeal is heard and decided.

If an appeal does not reverse the finding of being responsible, the Title IX attorney will have preserved the record on bias and deficiencies in the process to best situate you for a Title IX discrimination lawsuit against the college. Title IX suits have vindicated and reversed school convictions for students at numerous universities and colleges including Purdue and Michigan State, among others. Often, colleges will settle such suits rather than proceed to trial, as occurred with the student at Michigan State.

Although there can be no guarantee of success, your prospects of prevailing on a sexual harassment or sexual assault complaint at school will increase dramatically with a skilled Title IX lawyer on your side.  Given the potential adverse consequences of a negative transcript notation, possible suspension, or expulsion from school, you need this protection.

We at Nesenoff & Miltenberg can help. Our attorneys are Title IX defense specialists and we have helped hundreds of accused students who have been treated unfairly by their schools, including the students in both the Purdue and Michigan State cases. We are parents too. 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 and ensuring a fair process or establishing the deficiencies that will lead a court to reverse the school’s adverse findings. There is no fee for a confidential consultation.