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According to a recent study that looked at 27 different universities, 21% of senior undergraduates reported having been a victim of non-consensual sexual contact while attending college. University responses to sexual harassment and assault on campus continue to be guided by Title IX of The Education Amendment Act of 1972. For nearly 50 years, Title IX has been used to set up compliance offices and programs at campuses across the nation. The amendment has paved the way for the implementation of mechanisms to report discrimination based on sex, as well as complaints about “nonconsensual sexual contact” and even sexual innuendos and off-color comments. The result has often been that the person accused of the misconduct is dragged before a Title IX hearing, where a mere “preponderance of evidence” can land that person (either faculty member or student) in various forms of hot water, up to and including dismissal from the institution. If you are facing a Title IX hearing for sexual misconduct in Oakland, California, or anywhere in the surrounding areas of San Francisco County or Alameda County, contact my firm, the Darryl A. Stallworth Law Office. I can review your case with you, educate you on all of your legal options, and prep you for the hearing so that you can represent yourself against a system that is often stacked in favor of the complainant.

What Is Title IX?

As mentioned earlier, Title IX is a section of the Education Amendment Act of 1972. Title IX states in part that, "no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance." Title IX also includes prohibitions against sexual harassment that could negatively affect a student’s “participation in” and “benefits of” education at any level — but it has become particularly prominent on college and university campuses. Title V of the California Code of Regulations likewise prohibits sexual harassment when it, “unreasonably disrupts an individual’s educational or work environment or that creates a hostile educational or work environment.” Often, accusations can stem from actual incidents of sexual harassment, but at other times, allegations might be of the “day after” variety. A college or university student who has second thoughts about a sexual encounter can easily drag his or her partner before a Title IX hearing, where dismissal can hang in the balance — though the result is often counseling and sexual harassment courses.

What Is A Title IX Hearing?

First, let’s begin with some definitions. The University of California (UC) Title IX compliance system defines the person making the allegation as the “complainant” and the person being accused as the “respondent.” The UC system begins the process of reviewing a complaint by conducting an investigation by the campus Title IX Office. The appointed investigator will determine — based on a “preponderance of evidence,” rather than evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt” — what happened and whether the allegations can be substantiated. If one party objects to the findings, a hearing will ensue. The hearing does not include a “jury of one’s peers,” nor does it allow either party — complainant or respondent — to question the other party or the other party’s witnesses. All questions must be submitted to the hearing officer, who will decide whether or not to ask them.

Are You Facing A Title IX Allegation?

How UC Title IX Hearings Are Conducted

“The hearing will be conducted in a respectful manner that promotes fairness and accurate fact-finding. The parties and witnesses will address only the hearing officer and not each other. Only the hearing officer will question witnesses and parties. The parties will have equal opportunity to propose questions for the hearing officer to ask the other party and witnesses.” The hearing officer alone will determine the outcome. If either party disagrees, he or she can file a written appeal. An appeal officer will then review the document and decide whether to uphold, overturn, or modify the decision or sanctions. While the circumstances above describe the UC Title IX compliance system as an example, universities and colleges everywhere follow similar policies and procedures, as established by Title IX language, and implementing regulations from the U.S. Department of Education.

Possible Outcomes

The hearing officer essentially has sole authority to impose sanctions and penalties, regardless of whether or not the respondent is a student or faculty member. The student might be forced to undergo sexual harassment training and counseling, and a suspension or dismissal may also be imposed. For a faculty member, similar sanctions and penalties are available, such as mandatory training, suspension from duties, or outright dismissal from their position.

Changes On The Horizon

An appellate court ruling in 2019, along with regulations from the then Trump administration, seemed to pave the way for more vigorous cross-examination, but the UC Title IX coordinator quickly responded, “To be clear, we have no intention of allowing cross-examination by parties’ lawyers or other representatives or adopting other aspects of the proposed Title IX rules that we believe would be harmful, unless and until we are absolutely legally required to do so.” The Biden administration is now reviewing and rewriting its Title IX regulations to be more in line with the UC statement, though not in direct response to that one coordinator but as an overall national policy.

Get Reliable Legal Counsel From An Experienced Attorney

Hearing officers are neither judges nor trained in legal proceedings. Their decisions can oftentimes be arbitrary and unfair. The process itself, which limits questioning and does not demand proof beyond a reasonable doubt can also yield results that are often unjust. A Title IX investigation must begin within 60 days of the initial complaint. You can’t afford to waste time trying to deal with these matters on your own. Don’t allow the evidence, real or otherwise, to be stacked against you. The sooner you start defending yourself and your rights, the better your chances are of obtaining a more favorable outcome — and I can help you do that. If you’ve been accused of a Title IX offense, call or reach out to my firm today for reliable legal counsel and strong representation.

Title IX Defense Attorney In Oakland, California

If you’ve been accused of a Title IX offense, I can help prep you so that you don’t get overwhelmed by the proceedings. A suspension or dismissal can stick with you for a very long time and make your educational journey all the more difficult. If you need legal help with a Title IX allegation and you live in Oakland, California, or anywhere across the Greater San Francisco Bay Area, call my office immediately. Let me investigate and advise you on how to proceed and so that you can exert your full rights.

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