As a college disciplinary student defense attorney, I counsel and assist students who have been accused of a Title IX violation. A question that always comes up is, should I speak to the school’s investigator? I do not believe that there is one approach that should always be taken.
In one corner of the debate, you have criminal defense lawyers who many times would advise that a student should never speak to an investigator. From a criminal law standard, this approach makes sense, since many times Title IX charges involve some sort of sexual misconduct. If a student is facing criminal charges, or has been contacted by law enforcement, then in those instances speaking to an investigator would probably not be wise. In those circumstances, a student should follow the advice of their criminal lawyer.
Many Title IX cases never involve law enforcement. If your situation does not rise to the level of a criminal charge, what are the consequences of not speaking to an investigator? The biggest is that the accused student has not been able to get their side of the story out for consideration. Many schools have investigators make the decision as to if there was or was not a violation. If the investigator is only hearing one side of the story, the accused student has a very high likelihood of being found responsible.
A decision to speak with an investigator in Title IX matters is a serious issue and should not be taken lightly. I believe that a student should consult with an attorney experienced in these matters before making such a decision. I represent and counsel students accused of Title IX violations and represent students within the college or university disciplinary process nationwide.
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Richard Asselta is a Title IX defense lawyer who represents students throughout the United States.