Mistakes to Avoid During Washington DC Title IX Investigations and Hearings

When someone accuses you of sexual misconduct at your college or university, you are unlikely to be knowledgeable about Title IX and the proceedings that you are about to face. The lack of information that you have about Title IX procedures can lead you to make some costly mistakes if you are not careful about the actions that you take regarding the accusations against.

There are a variety of mistakes to avoid during Washington DC Title IX investigations and hearings of which only legal counsel may be able to advise you.

Title IX requires that schools quickly investigate and adjudicate reports of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and other types of sexual misconduct that may constitute sex discrimination under federal law. If you are facing accusations of sexual misconduct, you are likely to need legal advice as soon as possible after you become aware of the allegations.

Contacting an experienced Title IX lawyer may be crucial to your ability to defend yourself against these allegations and avoid making the mistakes that accused individuals most commonly make in these circumstances.

Mistake #1: Trying to Persuade the Complainant to Withdraw the Complaint

Many individuals who are facing accusations of sexual misconduct, particularly by someone they know or dated, often think that they can talk to the person and clear up what must be an obvious misunderstanding. However, in response to a complaint of sexual misconduct on campus, many schools immediately put a ban on all contact between the accused and the accuser, which can lead to serious consequences if violated.

As a result, any attempt to contact the complainant whether in person, via text message, through anonymous notes, or by using mutual friends can violate the school prohibition on contact, which could lead to further disciplinary action.

Furthermore, anything that the accused individuals say or write to their accuser almost assuredly will end up being used as evidence of guilt. Even worse, retaliation against persons for making complaints of sexual misconduct is a separate violation of Title IX that carries the possibility for additional sanctions. As a result, one of the most important mistakes to avoid during investigations and hearings is trying to persuade the accuser to withdraw or drop the complaint.

Mistake #2: Trying to Cooperate with School Title IX Officials

All too often, the Title IX coordinator or investigator for the school will attempt to persuade individuals accused of sexual misconduct that admitting wrongdoing and accepting the resulting penalties will result in leniency. While it is human to want to cooperate and provide school officials with another side of the story, doing so can be a huge misstep in judgment.
Not only may individuals admit details about the incident that make them look guilty, but any admission of responsibility or fault will make it more likely that the school will find that they violated the student conduct code.

Furthermore, incidents involving sexual misconduct allegations also can result in police investigations and prosecutions for criminal offenses. Making an admission in a conversation with school officials is information that police and prosecutors later can use against accused individuals in court. By cooperating, then, accused persons may inadvertently incriminate themselves and open them up to prosecution for a crime.

While school officials may urge and put pressure on individuals to freely speak about the incident that led to the Title IX complaint, they always should seek legal advice before speaking to anyone. Voluntarily giving away any information about the situation, no matter how minor it may seem, is definitely one of the mistakes to avoid during investigations and hearings in Washington DC.

Consult an Attorney About DC Investigations, Hearings, and Title IX Mistakes

These are just a few of the common mistakes to avoid during Washington DC Title IX investigations and hearings. You also should be sure to keep all documentation related to the incident or your accuser, including past correspondence, text messages, emails, handwritten notes, and similar items. Most importantly, however, may be for you to immediately contact experienced legal counsel to give you the advice that you likely are to need in this situation.

Too many individuals underestimate the impact that a finding of sexual misconduct can have on their lives. A permanent stain on your academic record and perhaps even criminal charges can be enough to derail your education and your career plans.