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Title IX & Education Defense

Title IX Student Conduct & School Expulsion Hearings

Universities, Colleges and High Schools in Washington State.

All Four and Two Year Universities in Washington State:

University of Washington (UW) (All Campuses), Washington State University (WSU), Bellevue College, Western Washington University (WWU), Eastern Washington University (EWU), Central Washington University (CWU), Evergreen State College, Pacific Lutheran University (PLU), University of Puget Sound (UPS), Walla Walla University, Whitman College, Whitworth University

Sexual Assault - Sexual Misconduct - Sexual Harassment

Title IX defense practice focuses on defending students, student athletes and faculty accused of violations Title IX or the schools or university code of conduct and sexual misconduct, sexual harassment or sexual assault. My clients are generally facing suspension or expulsion at public schools, private schools and Universities in Washington State. Most schools and universities have a "code of conduct," and it is generally a broadly defined code that is open to different interpretations.  For instance, you can find the University of Washington's code of conduct here Title 478 WAC - University of Washington. Many students find themselves accused of sexual misconduct or sexual assault and under investigation. If you or your child is under investigation for an accusation of sexual assault of sexual misconduct it is important to consult with a Title IX defense attorney that is familiar with this narrow and rapidly changing field of law.

University of Washington Title 478 WAC

      WAC 478-121-150 - Sexual assault.

Sexual assault includes sexual contact with another person without, or that exceeds, that person's consent.
For the purposes of this subsection, "sexual contact" includes:
(1) Any intentional touching of the intimate parts of another person's clothed or unclothed body, including but not limited to the mouth, neck, buttocks, anus, genitalia, or breast;
(2) Causing another person to touch their own or another's body in the manner described above; or
(3) Any penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral-genital contact.
For the purposes of this subsection, "consent" means that at the time of and throughout the sexual contact, there are words or conduct that reasonably communicate freely given agreement between or among the parties to engage in the sexual contact. In addition:
(4) Consent cannot be obtained when force or threat is used to gain consent;
(5) Consent cannot be obtained where the respondent knew or reasonably should have known that the other person was incapacitated; or
(6) Consent cannot be given or granted by a person who is under the statutory age of consent in accordance with the criminal code of Washington, chapter 9A.44 RCW, Sex offenses.
A respondent's use of alcohol or drugs is not a valid defense to a charge of sexual assault, and a respondent will be held to the standard of a reasonable sober person in evaluating whether the respondent knew or reasonably should have known that the complainant was incapacitated.


WAC 478-121-155 - Sexual Harssment.

Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal, physical, or electronic conduct of a sexual nature when one of the conditions outlined in subsection (1) or (2) of this section is present:
(1) Submission to, or rejection of, such conduct is made implicitly or explicitly a term or condition of a person's instruction, academic standing, employment, or participation in any university program, activity, or benefit, or is used as a basis for evaluation in making academic or personnel decisions; or
(2) Such conduct creates a hostile environment, which is created when the conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it unreasonably interferes with an individual's academic or work performance, ability to participate in or benefit from the university's programs, services, opportunities, or activities, or the receipt of legitimately requested services when viewed through both a subjective and objective standard.

What is Title IX?

Sexual Assault, Sexual Misconduct, Sexual Harassment and Rape on a University Campus are considered "gender-based discrimination."  These types of sexual assault and misconduct are considered so serious that federal laws considers them "so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively bars the victim's access to an educational opportunity or benefit.”  Therefore, when there is an accusation of violation of Title IX or sexual assault the school or University is required by federal law to investigate the matter.

Colleges and Universities in Washington State are required to investigate and prosecute cases where a student has reported that he or she has been a victim of sexual misconduct. The Title IX investigation and hearing process can lead to the suspension or expulsion of the accused student. It also often leads to the loss of the accused students reputation on campus.

 Should I involve an attorney in a Title IX Investigation? What should I say?

You should understand that the Title IX process is much different than the internal discipline process of a university. If you are the subject of a Title IX investigation you have the right to an attorney because you face expulsion.  If you or your child are contacted by a school official about a Title IX investigation you should remain silent until you have obtained counsel.

Many students are hesitant to involve their parents or an attorney because of embarrassment. A student may believe they can handle the matter themselves or that it will "blow over" if they are cooperative. This is generally not the case in Title IX actions. An accusation of sexual misconduct or sexual assault is so serious that these cases generally never simply fade away. 

If you are the subject of a Title IX investigation and you have been asked to attend a meeting with school officials or administration you should delay the meeting until you have time to talk to a Title IX defense attorney and formulate a strategy. 

What is a Title IX advisor?

Federal Law guarantees you, as an accused student, the right to have a Title IX "advisor" present during all stages of the proceedings.  Your Title IX advisor is not required to be an attorney, but may be an attorney.  By selecting an attorney that is familiar with the Title IX investigation and hearing process your attorney will be able to:

1. Ensure that you or your child or student receives due process. This means access to a meaningful hearing or trial where the accuser is questioned.

2. Be present during the investigation phase of the proceedings. This means the right to have an attorney/advisor present at all phases of the investigation.

3. Prepare you for the trial or "hearing" phase of the proceeding. Preparing questions for the accuser is at the heart of my job.

 Campus Sexual Assault under Title IX

Schools and Universities have broad authority to do as they see fit to protect students on their campus. In many situations an allegation of sexual assault may be launched by a parent or student. These allegations of sexual assault can even happen on campus, at a dorm, apartment or fraternity house.  The Washington Administrative Code (WAC) and Title IX defines sexual assault as:

Sexual assault includes sexual contact with another person without, or that exceeds, that person's consent.
For the purposes of this subsection, "sexual contact" includes:
(1) Any intentional touching of the intimate parts of another person's clothed or unclothed body, including but not limited to the mouth, neck, buttocks, anus, genitalia, or breast;
An accusation of sexual assault can result in the end of an academic career and a transcript that may prevent the transfer to a new school or university. An attorney with experience can help you through the process of negotiating with school administrators and moving forward to a conduct hearing if needed.


Informal Resolutions to a Title IX complaint

Title IX includes a opportunity for the parties to settle or resolve the matter prior to a full hearing taking place. This is called a "informal resolution" and is generally a negotiated settlement between the parties. This requires a skillful attorney and cooperation from both the University and the complaining party. This type of settlement is generally possible in cases where the parties are able to come to some agreement about how to proceed without a full hearing that could be damaging to the reputations of both parties. Informal resolutions often include" No contact orders, gag orders or agreements to not disparage the other party.

Getting a Fair Title IX Student Conduct Hearing

I have experience at every level of educational institution, from public schools and private schools to university's. I have successfully represented students and faculty accused sexual assault and sexual harassment.  I am experienced at negotiating with school administration, in many cases it is possible get an excellent outcome before a full hearing is conducted. However, in many cases it is necessary to proceed to a full hearing.

These hearings are often conducted by school officials that are untrained in the law or investigative procedures. They see their job as "increasing accountability" and not as impartial, fair and disinterested arbitrators of justice. Having an attorney that is experienced with the rules of evidence, witness cross-examination and hearing procedures is essential to getting a fair and full hearing.


Find a Title IX defense attorney who is prepared to fight

In a criminal charge, the court may provide the defendant or juvenile respondent with a public defender. However, in university or school discipline cases there is no such lawyer provided. However, you have a right to involve your own attorney in the process to ensure you are treated fairly. Not doing so early on is generally a recipe for disaster.

I am the subject of a Title IX investigation, what consequences am I facing?

Every single student that is the subject of a Title IX investigation or hearing faces the possibility of expulsion, especially if there are allegations of sexual assault or misconduct.  Examples of sanctions include but are not limited to:

  1. Required Training
  2. Required written educational paper
  3. No Trespass order
  4. No Contact order
  5. Conditional Status
  6. Termination of University Residence Housing
  7. Suspension from University
  8. Expulsion from University

Free Title IX Consultation:

If you are the subject of a Title IX investigation or hearing then it is important to have an attorney, advocate and advisor in your corner that has been through this process before. Very few attorneys in Washington State and even the nation have this specialized experience and have actually handled Title IX cases from beginning to end and through full Title IX hearings. I have handled Title IX cases and complaints of sexual assault at almost every major university in the State of Washington.  I am happy to sit down with students, faculty and parents to find a path forward and protect your future.


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