Campus Sexual Assault Title IX Investigations — Criminal Law Inside Universities

Under any circumstance, no parent ever wants to get a phone call from their child saying that they have been the victim of sexual assault or are facing an accusation of sexual assault.  For those with children attending a university or college, Title IX will control any investigation of the sexual assault at the university or college.

Universities and colleges that receive federal funding have to follow regulations from the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and laws passed by congress. These laws prohibit them from discriminating on the basis of sex—and require that they maintain a learning environment free of sexual harassment and sexual assault. That in turn requires universities and colleges use certain procedures to resolve allegations of sexual assault between students (as well as students and faculty).  While the hope is that these victims (or those faslely accused) can resolve these accusations under the university or colleges investigation quickly, unfortunately – these investigations do not follow the Law & Order case timeline —fast-paced, dramatized, and neatly packed into an hour’s air time. Title IX investigations follow their own very specific procedures and unless you are personally familiar with how these kinds of investigations work, it is very unlikely you will know what evidence to bring to protect your interests.

Following the current guidelines, generally when a university initiates a formal proceeding in these kinds of claims they:

  • require a lower burden of proof than in a criminal case.  Universities only look for a “preponderance of the evidence” to find someone accused guilty, which is the burden of proof usually seen in non-criminal proceedings, and not the higher standard of “clear and convincing evidence,” which is more commonly seen in quasi-criminal civil litigation, like civil conspiracy or civil fraud trials.
  • are “strong[ly] discourage[d]” from allowing the accused the right to cross-examine their accusers.
  • provide the accusers the right to appeal—meaning that if you are the victim, you may have more chances to bring your claim, or if you are a person found innocent, you may have to defend ourselves multiple times.

The DOE has proposed new regulations for how campus investigations and adjudications must proceed. If implemented as first proposed, these new regulations will require the following:

  • Procedures must allow for a live hearing.
  • Each party can cross-examine the other side and the witnesses—including the ability to challenging anyone’s truthfulness.
  • If a student has an adviser, that adviser may conduct that cross-examination, so long as both sides’ advisers get to do so equally.

An important fact to remember is that under any of these regulations affecting university or college proceedings – these sexual assault allegations are still investigated by campus personnel who are free to come to their own conclusions on how truthful the parties are and do not have the investigative resources available to law enforcement agencies.

You need not rely only on campus personnel to protect your rights.

If you are either a victim or an accused, you have the right to hire your own counsel to help investigate your case and, if the new regulations are adopted, represent you at a hearing.

Our attorneys have experience in helping parties faced with these administrative complaints. We can help in tracking down witnesses, gathering evidence, and handling matters that require experts in toxicology, psychology, psychiatry, and forensic medicine—bringing school officials what they need to resolve these quasi-criminal matters.  If you or your child find yourself involved in a Title IX investigation, we can help.  You can reach our attorneys at or at (804)423.1382 to set up a consultation to review the facts of your case.