If you’re a college student in the United States, chances are you’ve probably heard about Title IX. It’s the federal law that allows alleged victims of sexual harassment or assault to argue that their sexual assault or harrassment violates their right to equal opportunity in education.
Because schools tend to take Title IX accusations very seriously, if you’re accused of sexual assault, it can have serious repercussions. Like any other disciplinary charge at a college or university, a Title IX claim can result in academic consequences, suspension, or even expulsion.
But what exactly is the process for a Title IX investigation? And how can you defend yourself if you are accused of sexual assault under Title IX?
From Ohio defense attorney Max Hiltner, here’s a rundown on the potential consequences of a Title IX disciplinary charge and what to do if you find yourself on the receiving end of a Title IX claim.
Disciplinary charges in Title IX cases
Every school has different policies and procedures when it comes to disciplinary proceedings. It’s important to remember that just because your college or university is investigating an incident, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re facing criminal charges. Your school is simply considering enacting consequences based on whether you violated your school’s code of conduct.
Here are some of the behaviors that commonly lead to disciplinary charges in higher education:
- Academic dishonesty, such as cheating or plagiarism
- Sexual assault or harassment
- Fighting or physical violence
- Drug or alcohol use on campus
- Violation of COVID-19 policies like social distancing or symptom monitoring
The best way to find out your school’s procedures and potential consequences for disciplinary proceedings like these is to look at your school’s Code of Conduct and other related policies.
That being said, if your school finds that you violated the Code of Conduct or another school policy, these are some of the consequences you might face:
- Academic probation
- Removal from certain classes
- Compensation given to alleged victims
- Restrictions of where you can go on campus
So how does Title IX factor into all of this?
Title IX in Ohio and beyond
There’s been a lot of debate in the public sphere over Title IX the last couple of years. Activist groups looking to end the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses have championed the law as protection for survivors, while advocates for the accused argue that federal enforcement of Title IX has overstepped its bounds and restricts the rights of the accused.
Here is the official text of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972: No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
Since the 1970s, courts have interpreted this law as a protection against sexual harassment or assault. The argument goes that a culture of harassment, as well as a tendency on campus to disbelieve those who come forward about their experiences, create a hostile environment for many women, LGBTQ folks, and other survivors of sexual assault.
If your school receives any federal funding, they probably have a Title IX administrator, or at least a staff member who handles student claims of sexual assault or discrimination under Title IX. If you’ve been accused of sexual assault through a Title IX claim, your school is probably going to investigate the incident through this mechanism.
What to do if you’re accused of campus sexual assault
Because federal guidance for enforcement of Title IX is always changing, university policies regarding disciplinary proceedings under Title IX are also frequently in flux. You’ll need to do some research into your school’s current policies to fully understand the process and how to defend yourself, and in many cases, you’ll need a defense attorney with experience in Title IX cases by your side.
Here’s what to do if you’re accused of sexual assault on a college campus.
- Don’t talk about the proceedings to anyone on campus
- Don’t retaliate against your accuser or try to talk to them without speaking to your attorney first
- Gather any evidence you have access to that supports your side of the story
- Contact a defense attorney as soon as possible
Contact Hiltner Trial Lawyers today
Our team of expert defense attorneys at Hiltner Trial Lawyers frequently represent clients accused of Title IX violations. We know how university administrators think, and we know how to work within the process to defend your rights and protect your education. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and discuss your case.