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Title IX Investigations: Criminal Cases But Without the Due Process

Title IX is a federal civil rights law that was originally designed to prevent and combat gender discrimination in education.  This undeniably worthy goal has, unfortunately, created institutional processes inside of universities across the country where students – rather than universities – are now subject to investigation concerning their personal conduct.  These “Title IX Investigations” often occur without the benefits of due process and are subject to a much lower burden of proof.  And, while these investigations do not come with criminal penalties, the sanctions are still quite serious and can include removal from athletics and student programming, suspension, the permanent marking of a college transcript, expulsion, or other sanctions.  With over a half-a-dozen major universities (i.e. Indiana University, Purdue University, Notre Dame, Ball State, Butler, etc.) and even more smaller colleges and universities, Indiana is a state that is regularly and profoundly impacted by the effects of Title IX investigations on Indiana students for their private conduct.

Title IX investigations generally result from some form of accusation where a person or an organization makes an allegation of some form of gender or sex-based discrimination.  More and more, this has come to include allegations of sexual misconduct by students or employees of a participating university.  Once an allegation is made and a university or college elects to take action, that Title IX action should be subject to some form of codified policy or procedure that has been implemented by the school.  Unfortunately, these university policies and procedures vary from institution to institution, and rarely contain full due process protections for one specific reason: they do not have to do so.

In the criminal justice system, if you are accused of sexual assault, you are afforded the right to an attorney (even if you cannot afford one), the right to remain silent, the right to confront and ask questions of your accuser (and other witnesses against you), the right to a fair hearing, the right to know the allegations and evidence against you and to present a defense to them, the right to a neutral judge or impartial jury of your peers, the right to have your violation proved beyond a reasonable doubt, and to appeal any determination of violation.

However, if you are accused of sexual misconduct and are subject to a Title IX investigation, you are not allowed to have an attorney advocate on your behalf but may be able to only have an “advisor” to guide you through the process, you are not guaranteed the right to remain silent or to even ask questions of your accusers and you are required to present your evidence on your own, you are not guaranteed due process if you go to a private university and courts traditionally only require universities to follow their own procedures, and your investigation may be presided over by individuals designated by the university’s administrators who need only find that it is more likely than not that you are in violation.

These substantial deficiencies in due process make going through a Title IX investigation alone dangerous and risky.  As a result, it should come as no surprise that many accused individuals are seeking the advice of attorneys who are experienced in handling Title IX matters.  Such Title IX Attorneys can guide their clients through the Title IX investigation process, prepare their clients for what they need to do as part of the investigation, and take steps to ensure the university or college is following their Title IX procedures or policies.

With experience representing clients in Title IX matters, the attorneys at Keffer Barnhart LLP stand ready to provide their clients with trusted advise and accurate information regarding the law, and its application their client’s individualized case.  Act now and call us today at (317) 857-0160.