A Title IX adviser does not act as an attorney.  Although Margaret Valois is an experienced and licensed attorney, she does not act as an attorney when she advises Title IX clients.  In fact, most educational institutions prohibit legal representation in Title IX hearings, though students are permitted to hire attorneys to advise them.  As an adviser, our role is to help you navigate the process, obtain, preserve and analyze the evidence, guide you during the investigation, help you prepare for your hearing and advise you during your hearing.

Title IX is a federal law that was passed in 1972 and was intended to prohibit sexual discrimination in educational programs or institutions that receive federal assistance.  Originally intended to promote equality in athletic programs, courts and executive agencies have expanded the scope of Title IX over the years to include the investigation of complaints of sexual harassment and violence.

Educational institutions are given a lot of latitude in creating the procedures for handling Title IX cases and so these cases are handled differently at each school.  It is important to understand your particular institution's Title IX policy completely.

If you are accused of sexual misconduct under Title IX, your rights are governed by the U.S. Constitution, as well as federal and state law.  You may also have contract rights, depending on your situation.  You are entitled to due process, which means that you must be given a fair hearing.  This means you must be notified of the charges against you and given an opportunity to defend yourself against the charges before a neutral factfinder.

Get help immediately!  You might think that the accusation against you is so silly that you have nothing to worry about.  This is a huge mistake in the "Me Too" and "safe space" age.  The system is not fair and the accusations against you are serious and need to be investigate quickly and carefully by someone on your side.  DO NOT TALK TO ANYONE UNTIL YOU HAVE OBTAINED AN ATTORNEY OR A TRUSTED ADVISOR.  Sexual misconduct cases are often referred to law-enforcement agencies for investigation and prosecution and anything you say to anyone may be used against you.  Preserve all evidence including text messages and social media posts.  Do not post anything about the accuser, the incident or the investigation.

No!  Unlike criminal cases where you are guaranteed the right to confront your accuser directly in open court, or civil cases where you are entitled to discovery and depositions to get to the truth, most Title IX policies deny you both the right to confront your accuser and the right to discovery or depositions.   Investigations and hearings are rushed and you are not given enough time to prepare.  In many institutions, you are not even allowed to have an attorney ask questions or present witnesses at your hearing.  Most schools also apply a "preponderance of evidence" standard that allows them to find you responsible for sexual abuse if they think the accuser is more credible than you are.  Finally, many schools deny you the right of appeal.  It is crucial that you obtain help to fight against this injustice.

You cannot be found "guilty" at a Title IX hearing because it is not a criminal court.  However, you can be found "responsible" for sexual misconduct which can delay or ruin your academic career and can impact your ability to get a job, a security clearance or a professional license or certificate.  A finding of responsibility of Title IX sexual misconduct can become a part of your academic transcript and can follow you for the rest of your life.  Usually, your educational institution has a wide range of punishments to choose from, ranging from counseling and training all the way to expulsion and exclusion from campuses and facilities.  Depending on your school, you may or may not have a right of appeal.