Margaret C. Valois

TITLE IX INFORMATION FOR STUDENTS

This page is for students accused of Title IX sexual misconduct.  If you are a parent of a student accused of Title IX sexual misconduct, please CLICK HERE for more information. 

To contact us please CLICK HERE to submit an email using our form or call us at (434) 845-4529.  Our regular office hours are 9 am to 5 pm EST, Monday through Friday.  We check messages regularly and will call you back after hours.  Title IX issues are too important to wait.

Below is some important information you need to know if you have been accused by your school.

 

  • DO NOT MAKE A STATEMENT TO ANYONE UNTIL YOU HAVE MET WITH AN EXPERIENCED ADVISOR.  You need an advisor. Do NOT go forward without an advisor.   You may  want the moral support of a close friend or parent, but the person you need by your side is an experienced, objective advisor.

  • GET AN ADVISOR NOW! Time is of the essence. Title IX cases progress extremely quickly and it is crucial to obtain an advisor immediately to thoroughly review the evidence and to help you prepare your case. 

  • DON'T BE FOOLED.  The Title IX coordinator and investigators seem friendly and caring, and claim that they are neutral and just want to get to the truth of the matter, but that is usually not true.  Colleges, universities and other schools routinely hire biased Title IX staff.  They are trained to appear neutral and independent, when the truth is usually that their only real  interest is in building a case against you.  Most investigations begin with an attempt to obtain statements without notifying you of the nature of the allegations against you or the name of your accuser.

  • THIS ACCUSATION IS SERIOUS.  It can keep you from graduating from your own school, from transferring to another school and from getting a job or a security clearance. You can be suspended, isolated, banned from school activities or expelled.   A Title IX finding of responsibility can keep you from obtaining alumni benefits even if you are eventually allowed to graduate.  Do NOT think your Title IX case will go away or resolve itself.  If you ignore your case, your school WILL find you responsible for sexual misconduct.

  • THE SYSTEM IS RIGGED AGAINST YOU. Schools can lose a lot of money if they don't administer Title IX cases to the satisfaction of the federal government.  The US Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights is openly biased in favor of complaining students.  Thus, it is usually in your school's financial interest to side with complaining witnesses.  However, schools also know that they face huge losses from lawsuits if they deny rights to accused students, so it is important to hire an experienced advisor from the beginning who will put your school on notice that your rights will be zealously and vigorously asserted and defended.

  • PRESERVE THE EVIDENCE AND KEEP QUIET.  Resist the urge to comment on your case on social media.  DO NOT ban or unfriend the complaining witnesses.  Do not delete accounts or postings.  Preserve all text messages, emails, voicemails, etc, and make printouts or take screenshots of social media postings.  DO NOT CONTACT ANY WITNESSES UNTIL YOU HAVE MET WITH YOUR ADVISOR.

  • THE STANDARD OF PROOF IN TITLE IX CASES IS RIDICULOUSLY UNFAIR.  The school can find you responsible for sexual misconduct on the basis of only the "preponderance of the evidence."  This means that the school can find you responsible in a "he said, she said" case by determining that the complaining witness is only  a fraction of a percent more believable than you are.  This is a much lower standard than the "beyond a reasonable doubt" or "clear and convincing evidence" standards that are applied in criminal or serious civil cases.  In spite of recent changes to guidance offered by the Department of Education, most schools are still enforcing their previous policies.

  • YOUR FUTURE CAN BE IN THE HANDS OF JUST ONE PERSON.  More and more schools are using a single adjudicator to hear Title IX cases.  This means that your future will be determined by the opinion of  only ONE PERSON based on the information provided by their own investigator.  You may not even be afforded to plead your case to the person who decides your future.  You need an advisor who is independent of your school - one who is not paid by the school and who is not involved in school politics or dependent on school or federal funding.

  • LAWSUITS ARE EXPENSIVE, STRESSFUL AND NOT ALWAYS SUCCESSFUL.  You may be thinking that you will just sue your school if the hearing does not go your way.  This is the WRONG approach.  Lawsuits take a lot of time and are very stressful, not to mention expensive.  YEARS of your life could be consumed by a court battle.  Start the fight the minute you know you are accused.