Title IX Sexual Assault & Sexual Misconduct (Respondents)
Sexual assault and sexual harassment at colleges and universities has been a major issue on campuses across the country and in the news media. Frequently-changing government regulation has caused schools to repeatedly change their approaches to these cases. Schools may suspend or expel students after a quick investigation, placing a permanent black mark on their transcripts that makes it very difficult to transfer or apply for advanced degrees. Where the accused student’s name is made known to the press, he or she may be branded a sex offender in the public eye – a designation that will follow him or her for years to come. This type of allegation is extremely serious and requires a strong response. Our experienced Title IX lawyers have for many years successfully represented students who are accused of sexual harassment or sexual assault in campus disciplinary proceedings, as well as students bringing claims of harassment or assault against fellow students. Since 2013 alone we have represented more than 200 students, staff, or faculty in Title IX cases at more than 85 schools across the country. For more information about our representation of complainants in gender discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual assault cases at schools and universities, please click here.
Our lawyers are thought leaders in the area of Title IX, routinely writing and speaking on issues related to campus sexual assault adjudication. We keep abreast of the rapidly changing landscape in this area, considering ever-changing federal guidance and judicial decisions outlining what these processes should look like. We are very experienced at navigating the maze of federal and state laws and regulations that bear on these charges, including Title IX (the federal law requiring gender equality in education), the Clery Act (the federal law requiring colleges and universities to report their crime statistics and their prevention and discipline policies), constitutional due process rights in the case of public universities, and contractual rights of students in private universities.
Because we are also very experienced criminal defense lawyers, we are vigilant to protect our client’s rights and guard against jeopardizing the defense of potential criminal prosecutions. We are used to handling both criminal and university matters for our clients simultaneously, working to achieve the best possible results in both arenas.
Our long history of defending students means that we are familiar with the campus disciplinary process and have the expertise necessary to protect the rights of students accused of sexual misconduct. We are familiar with many of the independent investigators schools use, as well as the school’s attorneys. We can rapidly evaluate a situation and develop an effective defense strategy, coordinate a prompt and thorough investigation of relevant evidence and, when necessary, identify and retain expert witnesses to find and present weaknesses in the school’s evidence. Where necessary we engage with the school’s attorneys to ensure that our client’s rights are being protected during the disciplinary process. Our extensive state and federal litigation experience means that, where appropriate, we are also ready and able to litigate against universities on behalf of students accused of sexual assault.
Our Title IX lawyers have achieved significant victories for our clients in campus sexual harassment and sexual assault cases. We have successfully represented many students accused of sexual misconduct who were found not responsible by their schools. Representative examples include:
In a case involving a graduate student who was accused of rape by his ex-girlfriend who filed a Title IX complaint and also sought criminal charges and a civil restraining order against him, we represented him in his school proceeding where he was exonerated of the rape charge, and assisted his local attorneys in their representation of him in the criminal and civil matters.
In a case where another student’s ex-girlfriend accused him of rape, our attorneys helped him draft his written submissions to the school conduct board and prepared him for his hearing, where he was exonerated of the rape charge.
In a case where both our client and another student accused one another of non-consensual sexual contact, we obtained a decision that our client was not responsible, and successfully defended that decision on appeal.
We also represented an undergraduate student accused of rape and acts of violence where the complainant sought to have him expelled from the university. After a lengthy student conduct board hearing we prevented the expulsion.
In a case where our client was accused of sexual exploitation, we negotiated with the school to allow our client to withdraw rather than face disciplinary sanctions.
On appeal, our lawyers helped a client reverse a finding that he had harassed another student.
On appeal, our lawyers helped a client found responsible for sexual exploitation reduce her sanction from a suspension to probation.
In a case involving drugs, alcohol, and cross-complaints by both parties, our lawyers helped a client prevail and be found not responsible for sexual misconduct.
In a case where the complainant made illegal recordings of our client, our lawyers successfully had the illegally-obtained evidence excluded from the adjudication, and using the testimony of a medical expert on alcohol-induced blackouts, our client was found not responsible for sexual misconduct.
If you have been accused of sexual assault or harassment and are facing disciplinary action by your school, or if you have already been subjected to discipline for allegedly violating the school’s sexual misconduct policy, the Title IX lawyers at Zalkind Duncan & Bernstein LLP can help you navigate your school’s disciplinary and appeals processes, and advocate for your right to fair treatment. Contact us at (617) 742-6020 to speak with an attorney.