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Defending Against Charges of Sexual Misconduct on Campus

Title IX of the federal Civil Rights Act prohibits educational institutions from discriminating on the basis of sex. Discrimination can take multiple forms, including sexual misconduct, which is also a potential crime. When an educator or a student is charged with sexual misconduct, they may face not only on-campus disciplinary proceedings but also criminal prosecution for sexual assault.

Although the same facts may be alleged, Title IX and criminal proceedings are completely separate from each other and have major differences. The Title IX process is about administrative discipline such as possible expulsion or firing. On the criminal side, the goal is to determine if the accused violated a Texas or federal statute or penal code, and if so, to render punishment such as jail time and sex offender registration.

A criminal prosecution for sexual assault may come before, during or after the Title IX proceeding. Even if the prosecutor decides not to bring a case, the university’s disciplinary actions can go forward. A prosecutor could choose not to file criminal charges because he or she does not believe the allegations can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. But the Title IX case could still result in discipline because the burden of proof is lower.

On the other hand, Title IX proceedings are limited in scope and give the accused person significant protections. As revised in 2020, Title IX rules provide that:

  • A school investigation is limited to discriminatory actions alleged to have taken place anywhere the school has “substantial control,” including fraternities and sororities.
  • The school can only investigate allegations made in a formal complaint to a Title IX coordinator.
  • The investigation can proceed only if both the accused and accuser are still affiliated with the school.
  • The school can choose to make the accuser prove the case by “clear and convincing” evidence, which is a higher standard than under previous rules.
  • The school must allow for a live cross-examination of the accuser.
  • The accused has a right to have an “advisor” present. The advisor can be a lawyer.
  • The school needs to resolve complaints “within a reasonable time.” The prior rules required resolution within 60 days, which often worked to the accused’s disadvantage.

Nevertheless, the consequences of losing a Title IX proceeding can be serious and long-lasting, which is why a thorough and carefully prepared defense must be mounted.

Faced with the prospect of both disciplinary action and possible criminal conviction, anyone accused of sexual misconduct at a Texas university needs to speak with a defense lawyer immediately. Every university has its own disciplinary procedures and every prosecutor’s office operates differently, so be sure the lawyer you hire is competent in both aspects of these cases.

At The Law Offices of Kevin Collins in San Antonio, we have a wide experience representing Texas residents ins a wide range of criminal cases and related proceedings. Call us at 210-598-8629 or contact us online as soon as possible.

COVID-19 Notice
We are here to help and support you through these generally challenging times with your specific legal issues. You will be able to reach me or my staff through our main telephone numbers, and of course by email: [email protected]. Phone conferences for existing and potential clients are available, as is the video conference feature through the Zoom app. Zoom may present some privacy challenges so phone conferences are preferred. Please take care of your health by following the measures recommended by the CDC, and by state and local authorities.
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