New Title IX Regulations Change The Way Schools Handle Sexual Assault Cases

New regulations for on-campus sexual assault claims have been released by the U.S. Department of Education under Title IX, the law that prohibits sex discrimination in federally-funded schools. Colleges and universities covered by this law must comply with the new regulations by August 14, 2020. The new rules ensure due process for both complainant and accused, and unlike previously issued guidance by the past administration, these will have the force of law as a foundation.

Title IX, signed into law by President Nixon in 1972, was created to protect students and employees from sex-based discrimination. The new regulations are an expansion of this law that details how schools must handle on-campus sexual assault claims, providing guidance for investigating and hearing cases within the school.

One important feature to note is the process called 'live hearings.' In a live hearing, both parties can ask questions (through an advisor or an attorney), provide evidence, present witnesses, and do cross-examination, as in an actual court proceeding. In place of a judge, a decision-maker (a trained Title IX personnel or facilitator) will determine the outcome. While many contend that this process might make it harder for harassment survivors to file a complaint, the proponents of the law view it as a necessary procedure to ensure that those wrongly accused would be protected, and those responsible will receive appropriate action.

Schools can choose to offer informal resolution by mediation as an alternative way of handling a case, provided that both parties have given their voluntary, written consent, and that the accused is not a school employee. Schools cannot force students and employees to waive their right to a formal investigation as a condition for enrollment or employment.

What sets these new regulations apart from previously issued guidance is their enforceability, as they are backed by the force of law. This means that schools are obliged to comply, and students and employees can expect that their rights will be protected. While some still contest the fairness of the new rules, many view it as a step in the right direction.

Related: What amounts to sexual misconduct under Title IX?

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North Carolina vs. M.W.
Charge: Charge: Robbery with A Dangerous Weapon (4 Counts), First Degree Burglary, Conspiracy to Commit Robbery with A Dangerous Weapon
Facing: 12 - 17 years in prison
Result: Dismissed

An incarcerated defendant accused our client of participating in the robbery of a group of youth at a party. We were able to raise doubt as to the credibility of this individual. In the end, the prosecutor dismissed these charges, citing a lack of evidence.