It's no secret that Title IX investigations overwhelmingly tend to favor the accusers. While nobody is arguing that colleges should take sexual assault allegations lightly, there has long been an unjust presumption of guilt that puts the accused at a disadvantage throughout the investigation.
In the June 2022 case of Vengalattore v. Cornell, the issue was again put to the test. In a resounding and welcome victory for the falsely accused, the judge ruled against the school before proceeding to deliver a spot-on critique of the college's practices.
Judge Jose Cabranes of the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a disciplined professor will be allowed to sue Cornell University for gender discrimination after the school allegedly skewed the sexual assault investigation to favor the female student. In concurring with the lower court's judgment, Judge Cabranes authored an outstanding judicial statement on due process procedures, evoking many of the same concerns that Title IX defense attorneys themselves have raised:
- Colleges operate in secrecy, which allows due process violations to go unchecked
- Lack of due process and a standard burden of proof leads to discipline of undeserving individuals
- Universities must treat Title IX investigations fairly or suffer legal consequences
What It Means
This ruling is a great outcome for the integrity of Title IX cases. It is long overdue. As Judge Cabranes pointed out, too often these university investigations deny the accused basic due process rights, including the ability to question witnesses, providing a summary of the allegations, or making conclusions based on little or no evidence. Any attempt to rein in the overreach of Title IX administrators is a step in the right direction.
However, a single ruling likely won't spark wholesale changes to universities' long-standing tendencies. These schools have become used to bypassing the due process rights of the accused. Gender-based biases in academia will continue to exist, and the threat of a lawsuit doesn't necessarily mean that the school will always conduct investigations with complete objectivity. If you are a student or professor who has been accused of a sexual offense, it is important that you contact a specialized Title IX defense attorney immediately. Don't assume the school has your best interest in mind.
Choose Experience And Resources
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm have assisted thousands of students, professors, and school employees across the United States as they navigate the extremely tricky waters of a Title IX investigation and other school administrative proceedings. The concurrence written by Judge Cabranes only underscores the complexities of these types of cases. When legal professionals get involved, schools face greater scrutiny and therefore the odds of a fair probe are much higher. More than ever before, retaining a lawyer is your best chance at an unbiased investigation.
Whether you are an undergrad student on the verge of your first degree or a professor approaching tenure, there is too much at stake to take on a Title IX investigation by yourself. From the first onset of allegations, contact Joseph D. Lento and his highly experienced team at the Lento Law Firm. Reach out online or by calling 888-535-3686.