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NYC Title IX Investigations Lawyers

January 3, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys
College Arrests & Title IX Hearings: Title IX Investigations

The process of investigating sexual assault allegations can be exhausting and emotionally draining for everyone involved, whether they’re the accuser or the party being accused. Title IX outlines interim measures that are taken while sexual assault investigations are underway on a college campus. These measures are used to protect students throughout the investigation and ensure that they’re given equal access to the programs and educational activities offered on campus. Interim measures are written specifically to make sure that students can keep living their lives without fear while waiting for investigations to reach a conclusion.

In New York, the Title IX proceedings make interim measures a requirement during sexual assault investigations. As soon as a college or other educational institution is informed that there’s been an incident, they must implement interim measures for the protection of affected students.

Some complainants may request that the administration keep their identity confidential. A complainant may also struggle to cooperate fully with an investigation due to their desire to preserve their anonymity. Even when this is the case, and the school can’t conduct a full investigation into the incident, Title IX still requires that interim measures be implemented as a measure of protection. An experienced attorney can help explain what these measures are, what they mean, and how the proceedings will affect the students involved.

Determining What Interim Measures Are Necessary

Every sexual assault incident and investigation will be different. For this reason, there isn’t a calculated formula regarding the measures that a school should take. Instead, the school administration is meant to use discretion and analysis. There are a number of factors that are evaluated and considered when the school authorities decide what interim measures to implement. If the alleged perpetrator and the complainant have shared dorm space or classes, one interim measure would be for the school to help the complainant change their schedule. Another action would be to remove the perpetrator from a shared dorm building so that the complainant isn’t required to uproot their space.

Ultimately, the school should base the interim measures around the needs and desires of the complainant. To this end, the administration should consider:

  • The specific needs of the complainant
  • How old the students are and whether there’s any age difference
  • The circumstances regarding the sexual assault incident
  • The nature of the sexual violence
  • The level of potential threat to the complainant from the accused, or the threat toward other students and the community on campus

Interim measures are meant to lessen the emotional burden and stress that the complainant experiences during the investigation. The purpose of interim measures is to protect the complainant. Interim measures should never be used to punish the complainant for speaking out, and they’re not meant to be used to protect the alleged perpetrator. If the school needs to decide between the comfort and safety of the complainant or the alleged perpetrator, Title IX prioritizes the complainant first.

Interim Measure Examples

The interim measures that are implemented will be unique to each specific case and its circumstances. However, universities and colleges have outlined reasonable examples of interim measures that can be discussed should there ever be an incident on campus. Every university and college in New York is required to have developed specific grievance procedures in accordance with Title IX. Because each school develops their own unique guidelines, the interim measures can vary widely from campus to campus.

Some common measures that can be implemented and built upon in a number of different situations include:

  • No contact orders that prohibit the alleged perpetrator from contacting or being near the complainant
  • An interim suspension of the alleged perpetrator while waiting for the investigation to conclude
  • Academic accommodations for the complainant including exam schedule changes, class schedule changes, and alternative options for course completion to avoid contact with the alleged perpetrator
  • Hands-on security measures like increased campus security and campus safety escorts
  • Housing accommodations including housing contract changes and help relocating housing
  • Mental health counseling and medical resources
  • Ongoing academic support services
  • Limitations placed on the alleged perpetrator’s ability to access certain portions of campus
  • Assistance with transportation
  • For complainants employed by the college, a voluntary leave of absence without potential career ramifications

Schools should use discretion and work with the complainant when deciding what measures to implement. The complainant will feel safest if they have some autonomy in deciding how they choose to utilize the school’s potential support services.

In situations where the perpetrator suffers negative consequences like forcible housing relocation or an interim suspension, the administration should have a reasonable belief in the reliability and evidence supporting the complainant’s claim.

NYC Title IX Harassment & Discrimination Investigations & Hearings Lawyers

There are many types of conduct that may be considered criminal and some that may not be when it comes to harassment and discrimination. However, whether you have been arrested for such behavior in a New York college or university, the victim has a right to file a complaint via Title IX. Even if the victim has only brought the matter to the attention of school officials and has not gone to law enforcement, the matter will still be investigated. Usually, the college or university staff will perform its own infestation based on the violations of Title IX, namely, discrimination and harassment. The end result of this is typically a disciplinary hearing that can spell suspension or even being expelled from the school.

Title IX: Prohibiting Sex Discrimination in Education

While Title IX is a very broad article, it prohibits discrimination and harassment in schools. There are a variety of types of harassment that exist. It also doesn’t limit harassment to that which is perpetrated against women and includes everyone. For example, there are many types of sexual harassment that exist, such as that which is based on gender, gender identity or sexual orientation. It doesn’t matter if the harasser is a man and the victim is also a man, or if the harasser is female and harassing another woman. There is no combination that does not apply when pertaining to harassment. If you have committed an assault, rape, made threats or recorded someone else without their knowledge or consent and the matter was sexual in nature or based on gender, the victim has the right to file a Title IX complaint with the school. The result is a thorough investigation, possible disciplinary hearing and suspension or expulsion. In the worst-case scenario, you might even end up arrested.

Title IX: The Investigation

After an official complaint of harassment or discrimination has been filed, the college or university will perform an investigation. You can expect this to be thorough and methodical in nature if the incident was based on gender or has a sexual component to it. The law requires all New York colleges and universities to have a Title IX coordinator. As a result, there is a staff member or school administrator who is given the responsibility of being in charge of investigating such matters. The Coordinator can investigate in any way they wish but is always required to perform an investigation. The process of the investigation can include speaking with the person who made the complaint and having them discuss in detail what happened.

The Title IX Coordinator can also perform the investigation using whatever resources are available at their disposal. This means that if there is video footage of the incident or any students, faculty or any other witnesses to the event, they may be called into play as well. You may also face certain consequences as the investigation is ongoing, such as having to switch dorms, being prevented from having any contact with the complainant and other restrictions. This works much the same as an order of protection.

There may be a concurrent criminal investigation being performed by the District Attorney. Regardless, the Title IX investigation will continue until there is a chance to come to a conclusion based on the evidence. When a college or university is performing an investigation, however, it is easier to come to a conclusion compared with one involving criminal law.

Title IX: The Disciplinary Hearing

As previously stated, by law, a Title IX hearing can end up with you being suspended or even expelled from school. The outcome of the investigation can determine whether your conduct was based on gender, which can automatically result in one of these two things occurring.

Once you are advised of the investigation into you and the incident, you, as the accused, still have rights. Your rights are not higher or lesser than those of the accused. You are entitled to an advisor throughout the process. This person may even be an attorney if you wish to have one. You can also call witnesses who can testify and present evidence in your favor if your advisor approves it. Before the disciplinary hearing is over, you will also get the chance to review all evidence the school has collected. When the hearing starts, you and your advisor will be in attendance and you get the chance to speak, address the allegations against you and ask questions of your own. Once a decision is made in the case, you and the accuser will both receive written notice of the decision.

The outcome of the case depends on a number of factors. You may be found guilty or exonerated, have the ability to attend your classes, be in limited areas with your accuser, suspended or expelled from school. No matter what the outcome, you have the right to appeal.

It’s important to always remember that any arrest or violation of Title IX on school grounds are very serious matters. Although the former is worse due to the involvement of law enforcement, if you are found to be guilty of having discriminated against or harassed someone sexually or based on their gender, it can adversely affect your entire future. You can also suffer dire consequences if you are in school on an F1 visa and be sent back to your home country.

Title IX Appeals

Title IX is legislation that outlines ways in which universities must investigate sexual assault allegations, provide protection to students, and address any culture of violence that may lead to sexual violence on campus. Title IX doesn’t require schools to provide an appeals process regarding the conclusions of investigations. With that said, there is a strong recommendation from the Office for Civil Rights that universities implement an appeals process. In keeping with this, the majority of universities offer formal procedures through which students can appeal the decision made following a Title IX investigation. Every school will have a slightly different procedure and process, but many of them have written down the step-by-step process in easily accessible writing.

The process of appeals isn’t unified across campuses, so it can be different among different schools. Title IX doesn’t outline an appeals process or require a school to adhere to certain guidelines. There is just one note in the Title IX legislation regarding appeals. Though appeals are optional, the Title IX legislation states that should a school choose to adopt an appeals process, the policy must be quick, impartially mediated, and have equal consideration for both involved parties. If you’re concerned about the appeals process of your specific university, you can talk to a lawyer who’s experienced with Title IX legislation.

Appeal Requirements for Title IX

A Title IX appeal may be invoked in a college or university that has outlined a specific appeals process. appeals are usually invoked so that a person can make sure that the investigation didn’t have any procedural errors. An appeal might also be filed if one of the involved parties has new evidence to introduce that could affect the original decision. It’s important to understand that the appeals process is meant to be used in cases where the outcome of the investigation may have been affected by incomplete information or procedural issues.

Some universities might also implement an appeals process for cases in which a perpetrator is found by the administration to be guilty of committing sexual violence. If the perpetrator believes that the penalties they face are too harsh, they can appeal the punishment. Conversely, if the complainant believes that the penalties are not harsh enough, they can file an appeal to have the case reconsidered. The person filing the appeal must be able to make a specific argument for why the punishment is too harsh or not harsh enough, though. If the individual doesn’t like the choice of punishment but doesn’t have a compelling argument for a reconsideration, they generally won’t be able to appeal.

Universities that adopt appeals policies must continue to adhere to Title IX specifications in their procedures. This means that the school must create specified procedures that are codified and written down. The administration will follow them when taking the perpetrator or the complainant through the appeals process. Any appeals process for Title IX decisions must be written with all the other information regarding the school’s grievance procedures for Title IX compliance.

The appeals process cannot be unnecessarily lengthy or complex. It should not be designed to drag a decision out or to be used as a punishment for anyone involved in the situation. Every school must design their appeals process to be speedy, straightforward, and with equal attention to all involved parties. Another vitally important aspect of appeals is that the administrators and counselors who facilitate the process must have professional training in dealing with trauma from sexual violence.

The Panel

Title IX has no codified or required appeals process, which means that schools aren’t required to adhere to certain specifications in their appeals panel. Each university can decide how many people will review the appeal, reconsider the case, and decide whether to uphold the original ruling or not. The only requirement that all university panels must adhere to is that every involved individual has been given specific Title IX training.

Brown University offers an appeal panel that is comprised of three professionals in human resources. One of these people is the vice president of human resources. All three of them have gone through Title IX training and have had training in how to deal with sexual violence and trauma.

Another example would be Pace University, which also has three individuals involved in the appeals process. However, the panel is made up of two university officials who the Title IX coordinator appoints, along with the university provost. Schools like the University of Minnesota have just a single appellate officer who makes the decision of whether or not to uphold the appeal. Single-person panels are often dictated by the provost.

Different Appeals Processes

Different universities will have different specifications regarding the timeline in which appeals can be filed, the information that must be included in an appeal, and circumstances in which appeals cannot be filed.

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