College or university students accused of sexual misconduct as a Title IX violation could face an investigation that results in severe academic penalties and tarnishes their reputation going forward. Because much is at stake in these investigations, defendants must learn about the FAQs about Title IX. One of the most important topics they should focus on is the definition of sexual misconduct under Title IX.
Often, defendants in Title IX hearings learn about an investigation surprisingly. Although they may think that the conduct is reasonable, acceptable, and mutually desired, the other party involved may interpret it differently later. The accused party may change their story after speaking with friends or regret their decision. In some instances, the accuser may make up stories of assault in order to justify infidelity.
What is Sexual Misconduct
To build an effective defense to proceedings regarding sexual misconduct on campus, the defendant needs to understand what qualifies as sexual misconduct. Under Title IX, sexual misconduct is defined as unwelcome or unwanted sexual advances or contact. Such a definition lets colleges and universities investigate cases and impose penalties on the students accused of sexual misconduct in a formal criminal or civil proceeding.
The Importance of Consent in Defense
In the majority of Title IX proceedings, consent is the central issue. How schools define consent varies. Most schools define consent as being informed, willingly, and freely provided by action or words. However, some schools do not stick to their baseline definition, resulting in significant difficulties for the defense.
In some schools, students must provide affirmative consent through explicit actions or words. Also, body language must not exclusively indicate consent and there should be another sign of consent. But sometimes, consensual scenarios or sexual activity may not play out through active and affirmative consent. This can result in severe confusion in terms of how students perceive consent and how schools define the word.
Usually, schools initiate a Title IX proceeding based on sexual misconduct that happened while a party or both were intoxicated. Again, for consent to apply, a student must give it willingly and in an informed manner. An intoxicated student who can’t assess a situation in an informed way and willingly give consent may make a claim under Title IX.
But the issue often involves how a school evaluates student intoxication when the misconduct took place. Also, if both students were intoxicated when the incident occurred, there is a question of which claim can be accurate.
Given the complexities involved in Title IX cases, a defendant should hire a good defense attorney to give them appropriate legal advice. Also, the attorney can make sure the defendant’s due process rights are followed and upheld.