Title IX Sexual Violence Investigations
Rape and sexual violence accusations are particularly difficult to navigate, if you are accused of committing sexual violence on university campuses. In 1972, the federal government passed Title IV and created statutory requirements for federally funded universities to take “prompt and equitable” steps toward ending sexual violence on campus. In addition to any criminal proceedings that may be brought, under Title IV, universities are independently responsible to investigate, convict, and discipline students for sexual misconduct. Schools are given broad latitude of what their independent investigation process could look like. As a result, the burden of proof for evaluating evidence through college campus investigations is much lower and the rates of facing punishment are much higher. Additionally, the standards around campus investigations vary from school to school.
Aside from the financial pressure schools face for being liable under Title IX, schools are pressured to process sexual misconduct cases in favor of the accuser, lest they be publically shamed for being “soft” on sexual violence. One of the biggest issues with Title IX cases is the lack of due process available for those who are accused of sexual misconduct. Schools are pressured against those bringing accusations of rape and oftentimes rights afforded under criminal justice cases such as right to counsel, right to a hearing, and right to appeal are seldom afforded to those accused in campus sexual misconduct.
In 2015, California took additional steps to protect accusers of sexual violence on campus by passing its “affirmative consent law,” which defines consent as “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.” As a result, there has been an increasing blur between the lines of regrettable drunken hookups and actual sexual violence.
According to a New York Post article, these affirmative consent laws should prompt men to feel “a cold spike of fear when they begin a sexual encounter.” Our team provides a dual-pronged approach of attacking campus sexual assault to help navigate the murky waters of consent.
Though school disciplinary proceedings may not seem as daunting as facing criminal charges, a negative disposition in a school’s disciplinary hearing can have significant life-changing ramifications for a student educationally, professionally, and socially. As we’ve seen over the last several years, sexual misconduct charges have a tendency of gaining national publicity. These charges can be damaging to a student’s career and personal reputation regardless of whether the student is guilty or not.
The The Law Offices of John M. Runfola has a proven track record of success with representing students accused of rape and sexual assault. We have successfully represented students in a variety of challenging factual scenarios, including getting a case dismissed at the investigative phase.
If you have learned you are a student being accused of rape or sexual assault, contact us immediately so that we can advise you on how to proceed with the investigation.