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Last Updated on: 13th September 2023, 09:57 pm
Defending Against Title IX Cases in Wyoming
Title IX is a federal law that says schools can’t discriminate based on sex. This includes sexual harassment and sexual assault. Schools have to investigate if a student reports sexual misconduct. The school does an investigation to see if school rules were broken. If rules were broken, they punish the student who did it.
But sometimes the accusations are not true. Or maybe things happened differently than how they were reported. When a student gets accused of sexual misconduct, it can feel really scary. Their reputation and future are at risk. This article talks about what a student can do if accused of violating Title IX in Wyoming.
Get a Lawyer
The first thing to do is get a lawyer. Title IX cases can be confusing. There are lots of rules schools must follow. A lawyer understands the details. They can make sure the school follows the rules. And they can help protect the student’s rights.
Some lawyers focus just on Title IX and student discipline cases. They have defended many students before. This experience is important. An experienced lawyer knows how schools handle these cases. And they know how to build the strongest defense.
Without a lawyer, the student has to face the school alone. The school has lawyers helping them. So it’s important for the student to have a lawyer too. A lawyer can give ongoing advice so the student makes the right choices.
Decide Whether to Participate
After a Title IX report, the school sends a letter. This says what violation they are investigating. The student has to decide whether to participate or not.
Not participating means not talking to investigators. The student wouldn’t go to the hearing either. The school may assume the student is guilty if they don’t participate. But there can be good reasons not to participate:
- The student gave a statement to police. Anything they say at school can be used against them later.
- The student plans to sue the school. Not participating avoids creating evidence the school can use.
- The student worries they will get angry or upset during the process.
A lawyer can advise whether participating is best. If the student won’t participate, the lawyer can still help. They can review evidence and respond to the school in writing.
Get Support from Family and Friends
Facing a Title IX case is stressful. The student shouldn’t go through it alone. Friends and family can provide emotional support. They can attend meetings and hearings too. Having people “in your corner” helps the student stay strong.
The lawyer may suggest not discussing details with others. Anything the student says to friends could end up as evidence. So they will need to be careful who they confide in.
The student needs to gather evidence to defend themselves. Helpful evidence can include:
- Text messages and social media posts
- Emails and notes
- Photos, videos, receipts
- Names of witnesses
This evidence might prove nothing bad happened. Or it may show the accuser is lying or mistaken. The evidence can also prove the relationship was consensual.
Evidence should be given to the lawyer, not the school. The lawyer understands how to use it best. They can decide what helps the case and what doesn’t.
Think About Witnesses
Witnesses often make a big difference. Their testimony adds credibility. Good witnesses saw the accuser soon after the incident. They can say if the accuser seemed upset. Witnesses who know both people may know about their relationship.
The lawyer can help decide which witnesses to suggest. They know what testimony helps avoid liability. Friends of the accused student may seem biased. But some may still give valuable testimony.
Consider Expert Witnesses
Expert witnesses may be an option too. For example, a psychologist can discuss false accusations. And why delays in reporting are common. A medical expert can interpret evidence from rape kits. Experts add credibility when they support the defense.
But experts are expensive. The school may not allow them or give their testimony enough weight. So the lawyer has to decide if experts are worth it.
Think Carefully Before Speaking
The investigator will want to interview the student. They want to hear the student’s side. But the interview can be risky. The student has to balance defending themselves versus protecting their rights.
Everything the student says can hurt their case. The investigator twists their words around. Small inconsistencies get turned into lies. It’s best for the student to stay calm and say as little as possible.
A lawyer can attend the interview too. They can object to tricky questions. And they can follow up on important points.
Consider Options if Found Responsible
Schools use the “preponderance of evidence” standard. This means they only have to find the student “more likely than not” responsible. So even with a strong defense, the student can be found responsible.
In that case, the student can appeal the finding. Appeals focus on procedural problems or bias. So the lawyer needs to document any issues during the process.
If the finding stands, the student can also challenge the punishment. Things like suspension or expulsion can be reduced. The school wants to look fair, so they may lighten the sanctions if the student fights them.
Get Help from Experts
Facing a Title IX investigation is scary. The student’s future is at stake. False accusations can ruin lives. So it’s important to get expert help. A lawyer experienced with Title IX can guide the student through the process. They know how to build the strongest defense while protecting the student’s rights.
With an expert on their side, the student has a much better chance of a just outcome. Don’t face a Title IX accusation alone. Get experienced legal help right away.