Within the past year, Berry Law Firm has represented faculty and students at universities who were accused of rape. In both instances, a Federal Title IX hearing was held and the University officials found by a preponderance of the evidence that the accused engaged in sexual misconduct. In both cases, criminal charges were never filed.
While the Title IX policy makes sense, the execution of the policy lacks due process.
At the Title IX hearings, the person accused of rape, sexual assault, or sexual misconduct is notified that he must meet with a hearing officer and is informed of his right to have an attorney. At the hearing, the hearing officer provides a summary of the witness statement, but does not provide police reports and other documentation to the accused’s attorney. After the allegations are explained to the accused, the accused is given the opportunity to respond.
In criminal cases, the defendant has the right to discovery, that means that the defendant is going to have access to all evidence that is going to be used against him. Additionally in a criminal case the defendant has time to conduct an adequate and independent investigation.
It is important to protect our students from sexual predators on campus. Furthermore, the universities have a duty to protect students from all crimes. However, the rights of the accused also must be considered. Unfortunately, the careers of faculty members, professors and students are placed in jeopardy when they are not given a meaningful opportunity to refute allegations made during a Title IX proceeding.