Congress enacted Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to prevent gender discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding, including academic, athletic and social programs. As years passed, a series of court decisions expanded the scope of Title IX to include protection against sexual harassment, sexual assault, rape and other acts of sexual misconduct. The net result is that a Title IX investigation may trigger a criminal prosecution, exposing the accused person to prison, fines and other penalties.
Educational institutions subject to Title IX must investigate all complaints or other indications of violations. While Title IX is a federal law, states may impose additional requirements. Under Texas law, all school employees are required to report any potential violations that they have direct or indirect knowledge of in a timely fashion. If warranted, appropriate disciplinary action must be taken by the school authorities. Title IX violations can result in a student being suspended or expelled or in an employee being fired.
Various types of sexual misconduct under Title IX can be crimes in Texas. A criminal case may be brought either parallel with or subsequent to the Title IX action. Evidence received during the Title IX case may have bearing on the criminal case. This is a significant danger to the accused because a Title IX proceeding is civil in nature, so there are fewer protections than in a criminal case. These are the major differences:
- There is no right to counsel.
- There is no right against self-incrimination.
- There is no right to confront the accuser.
- There is no right to a speedy trial.
- There is no right to a jury trial.
- There is no need for proof beyond a reasonable doubt. The standard is the greater weight of the evidence (more than 50 percent).
Due to the lower standards of proof and lack of procedural safeguards, an accused faces a greater likelihood of being found in violation of Title IX based on allegations of sexual misconduct. A school’s finding of a violation and taking of disciplinary action do not control the criminal case, but evidence in a Title IX proceeding — including statements made by the accused — may be subpoenaed by law enforcement officials. As such, any person who is the subject of a Title IX investigation or proceeding should seek the advice of a qualified Title IX attorney. Effective representation in the Title IX case can be an important factor in defense of a criminal prosecution.
Kevin L. Collins, P.C. is a full service criminal defense law firm in San Antonio, Texas. If you are involved in any Title IX matter, our firm can protect your rights in the civil and any associated criminal proceedings. Feel free to contact us online or call 210-598-8629 for an initial consultation.