Recently, my client prevailed in a Title IX action brought against him at a small, private college. The action was based on highly inflammatory allegations of sexual misconduct brought by a disgruntled female student he casually and briefly dated. My client denied all allegations made against him. The more I looked into the background of the alleged victim and her family with my investigator, as well as her text messages, photos, and social media, I became convinced that the allegations were not true and that the accuser had ulterior motivation and her own issues.

This college’s Title IX administration was brand new and admittedly unfamiliar with the school’s own policies and procedures. The college’s Title IX officials repeatedly misled and “bullied” my client. They treated him very unfairly and disrespectfully in this “investigation” process. The outside investigator selected by the school owned what she advertises as an “all-female law firm”. She made initial findings based on her interviews of the victim and the victim’s proposed witnesses that grossly exaggerated what occurred and what was said about my client.

Sexual assault accusations are usually based on and proven by one party’s word against the other party’s word. The accused student’s outstanding character evidence is not admissible. Even if he is a straight A student, involved in a lot of extracurricular activities and is well liked and respected on campus. Plus, Title IX investigations are based on a very low burden of proof—a preponderance of the evidence, which is a very low standard—51% v. 49%. This means that if the accuser is believed 51% vs the accused being believed less than that, the allegations are found to be true. 

Title IX proceedings are grossly unfair proceedings. School kids are expected to act as their own attorney. They must defend themselves against serious allegations which could result in criminal charges being brought against them. If school personnel, with no forensic training, view the “evidence” and deem the sexual assault allegations well founded, they are mandatory reporters. They must turn over the complaint and all evidence to law enforcement.

The accused are only permitted to have an advisor, not an attorney or advocate. I knew there was little my client could do or say to ultimately convince this investigator that he was innocent. Often just the most innocuous response to defend oneself is the most incriminating.

I challenged the school administration on their many failures in handling this matter regarding my client. I cited many instances in which they grossly favored and advocated for the female complainant in this victim-centered and victim-biased proceeding. I stated that we had significant evidence to disprove the victim’s allegations. But, I refused to let my client participate in this “investigation” due to the unfair nature of the proceedings and the egregious misconduct of the administration and their investigator.

With the very low burden of proof required to find against a student facing Title IX charges, I knew that there was nothing my client could say or show that would make a difference in his favor. Furthermore, the potential to get law enforcement involved was too great based on the exaggerations and misstatements of the investigator. I knew that if my client had to face criminal sexual misconduct charges, the potential for state prison and sex offender registration would be devastating to him and his family.

We held firm. My client refused to participate, he withdrew from the college, and the matter was resolved with an alternative resolution agreement that resulted in no findings made by the school whatsoever, the end of the Title IX proceedings against him, no hold on his record or transcripts, and nothing to be turned over to police.