What Is Considered Campus Sexual Misconduct Under Title IX?

What Is Considered Campus Sexual Misconduct Under Title IX? 2017-09-26T16:47:04+00:00

Have you been accused of sexual misconduct? You’re likely in shock and have questions like:

  • Will my school expel me?
  • How will I get a job if I’m kicked out of school?
  • What is sexual misconduct?
  • Who can help me?
  • What is Title IX?

Our lawyers can help answer questions.

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The moment that a student is contacted by a school official and informed that they have been accused of sexual misconduct is a terrifying and confusing one. While it is true that many are the victim of this terrible crime on campuses each year, sometimes the person being accused was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Under Title IX, a federal civil rights law, schools must handle any accusations of sexual misconduct otherwise they face serious consequences.

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What Is Title IX?

Title IX which is part of the Education Amendments of 1972, addresses discrimination on the basis of sex in academic facilities. Basically, under Title IX, discrimination can include sexual misconduct.

If an academic institution is made aware of allegations of harassment or assault that took place during its programs or activities and ignores those allegations, they can be held responsible in court. If it is found that their response was “clearly unreasonable in light of the known circumstances”, they risk having to pay the plaintiff damages and they also risk losing their federal funding.

This is why schools are quick to take action and even quicker to place blame on the accused student. They want to be sure that they are rid of the issue as quickly as possible and that their funding is kept safe. 

The problem is that schools often act so quickly that they are unable to perform a full investigation and students who have been accused, who are unfamiliar with Title IX policies and procedures, are left scrambling to prove their case in a very short period of time, often not even understanding why they were accused of sexual misconduct in the first place.

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What Falls Under Sexual Misconduct?

When someone has been accused of sexual misconduct, this means that another party has alleged that they were involved in:

Sexual Harassment

This is when someone makes unwanted sexual advances, asks for sexual favors, or participates in other verbal and physical harassment of a sexual form. It can be difficult to determine if comments are simply teasing or joking in nature but those making the allegations will say that they felt that their environment was hostile and that they were unable to perform their duties.

Sexual Assaultthinking about sexual harassment allegations

Sexual assault is any contact that takes place without the permission of the person who is alleging the assault took place. This may include fondling, forcing someone to perform sexual acts, and attempted rape.

Rape

Rape specifically means that penetration without permission took place.  

There doesn’t need to be physical force used for allegations to be made – the accuser can say that they felt that the accused used intimidation tactics to force them into sexual contact.

Schools Rush Disciplinary Action

The majority of academic institutions have a set of policies and guidelines on how to handle allegations of sexual assault. In most cases, these guidelines urge the school to take action within 60 days of the allegations being reported. In many cases, the school rushes into a disciplinary hearing in much less than 60 days.

This often leaves the person being accused of sexual misconduct scrambling to keep up, even though all parties involved are supposed to have access to the same resources and information.

Without help, it can be difficult to prove their case and they face serious consequences such as suspension and expulsion which can ruin their academic record and future career.

Is The Disciplinary Hearing Combined With Criminal Court?

No. If criminal charges are filed, these are completely separate from any action that the school takes. Criminal charges will not slow down the process either.

An Experienced Attorney Can Help

Due to the fact that every school has different policies on how to handle sexual misconduct allegations, it’s important to consult with an attorney who has experience handling these cases. In addition to reviewing the policies and letting the accused student know what to expect, a lawyer can:

  • Create a defense strategy.
  • Help the student and their parents prepare for the disciplinary hearing.
  • Ensure that the school follows the necessary procedures.
  • Join the student at the hearing, providing them with support.

There is no reason to face this process alone with so much at stake.

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