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Due Process Problems with Campus Adjudication of the Wrongly Accused
- Case Results
- List of Schools
Here are some representative results we’ve achieved for our clients.
Female complainant’s rights, health, and safety protected throughout lengthy proceedings
Our client was sexually assaulted by a male student acquaintance. We became involved to support our client in getting proper medical treatment, preserving and collecting evidence and witness testimony, and securing therapeutic support. We helped her understand and navigate the many complex options available to her, including a criminal complaint, an informal complaint process, a formal complaint process, or doing nothing. We guided her through the informal process and then the formal process, including interviews with various school and law enforcement officials, and worked closely with the school to put in place appropriate accommodations ensuring that all interviews and hearings did not retraumatize her. The male student was found responsible and was expelled.
Large private university
Witness to sexual violence protected from intimidation
We represented a female witness to a dating violence case on campus who was being pressured to speak with the police and the school investigators about a violent matter she had witnessed on her dorm floor. We immediately communicated on her behalf to the local police, school administrators, and the Title IX investigators to protect her right to choose to not testify and ensure her safety on campus. She was very relieved not to be pressured by the school, the title IX office or the police to attend the hearing and testify about fellow students.
Small private college
Investigation of sexual assault complaint concludes with no charges filed
Our client contacted us immediately upon receiving notice by his school that a claim of sexual assault was made against him by a female student. We assisted him in preparing his detailed answer to the complaint, and then prepared him and accompanied him to his interview with the campus safety police officers. We worked with the school Title IX administrators and helped our client find evidence to show inconsistencies with the complaint. The complainant withdrew her complaint when presented with these inconsistencies and then recanted. The investigation ended and our client was not charged with anything.
Midsized private collegeSee More Case Results
"I am writing to let any college student who gets accused of something serious by their school know that they need a lawyer like Felice Duffy to defend them. I was accused of something terrible by a student that I would never do and didn’t do. Even though I knew exactly what actually happened, I was very scared that my university might not find me innocent.
It was terrifying to think that I might lose my full basketball scholarship or could have been suspended or expelled and that me and my family’s name could have gotten a horrible reputation.
I can’t even put into words how I excited I was when I got the letter from the school that cleared me completely of the charges against me and I have Felice to thank for that 100%. Since I’m not in Connecticut, Felice and her investigator used video conferencing to interview me and my witnesses, talk with my parents, and get me fully prepared for every meeting I had with my school. They got all my texts and email that proved my innocence and organized them perfectly for the Dean and the discipline committee.
Felice was always very direct and respectful even though the subject matter was very personal, and she was always ahead of the school in terms of getting me and them important information at every step. It was like having the best scouting report ever." Felice obviously knows her stuff but she also deeply cares. You can tell that she loves the work she’s doing to help college kids in really difficult situations."
College Sophomre, Colorado
“I hired Duffy Law in the middle of a Title IX sexual assault proceeding. While I had initially retained another attorney on a recommendation, it turns out they did not have much insight to the inner workings of university policy, which I learned is NOT required to follow the basic laws of due process.
Felice was absolutely incredible, and as an athlete, she understood my thought process and feelings the entire way. This is what stood out the most to me. At the beginning of my school’s adjudication process, I was an absolute mess. Not only is Felice extremely knowledgeable in law and how school adjudication processes work, but she also really does care about her clients and their well-being.
It was initially extremely tough for me to speak about what I was facing. Felice was able to assist me not only in compiling the proper evidence and responding to the school, but also put me in the right state of mind to defend myself and move on with my life after it was all completed. Prior to hiring Duffy Law, I was concerned that I would be relegated to working with a legal assistant or secretary being that my case was in a college setting as opposed to a state court. However, Felice always found a way to make time and was there every step of the way.
I feel like an important part of hiring an attorney is being able to trust them to fight for you no matter what the scenario may be and you can rest assured you will be getting that with Duffy Law. I would recommend Felice Duffy of Duffy Law 10 times out of 10 to anyone that may be put in a tough situation like I was”
Female College Freshman, Massachusetts
“The claims leveled against me were terrible, but the wonderful news is that I was fully cleared of all the allegations because of the outstanding work Christine Brown and the team at Duffy Law did on my behalf. The first thing that really impressed me was that from the very first call Christine quickly understood what was going on and was able to read between the lines to understand the complicated dynamics of the situation. Despite my entire career being spent in academia, I didn't know much about Title IX procedures. Her expertise and knowledge of the process was immediately apparent and critically helpful in guiding me and giving me as much peace of mind as possible..
Christine knew how to spot the important subtext throughout the process and made sure I understood the strategic options I had at every stage going forward. I felt very confident in the decisions we made together. I felt vindicated by the decision and that this situation will have no further effects on my career. I am very grateful to Christine and Duffy Law for guiding me through this stressful process and recommend them without reservation to any faculty member facing a similarly challenging situation. ”
Assistant Professor in the School of Medicine at a midwest university
“When your kid is accused of a serious conduct code violation at his college, you quickly learn that there’s a whole different set of rules in place than in the real world. There are no legal standards, no assurances of a “fair trial.” You’re presumed guilty and you have to backtrack and prove why you’re NOT guilty. We pretty quickly realized that we needed strong legal representation and guidance. Our son was completely falsely accused and we were ready to dig in to clear his name.
Duffy Law’s truly unique background and deep experience with navigating the school’s process was amazing. They made it clear that our son was the client, not us (his parents). They worked with him extensively and earned his total trust. He felt empowered that he had the right people in his corner to defend him. They gave our whole family a sense a calm and confidence.
Thanks to incredibly hard work by Felice and her team, our son was found “not responsible” (meaning innocent of any wrongdoing). The outcome was everything we could have hoped for. I have already recommended Duffy Law to a friend who’s son was caught up in a serious, very complicated conduct code charge, and I will continue to recommend them to any student or parent without reservation.”
Parent of a male southwest private college seniorSee All Client Testimonials
Schools Where We've Handled Cases
Here are some of the schools where we’ve represented students, faculty, coaches, and staff:
- Amherst College
- Arkansas State University
- Bard College
- Bates College
- Belmont Abbey College
- Black Hills State University
- Bowling Green State University
- Brandeis University
- Brown University
- Cal State Polytechnic University
- Campbell University
- Carnegie Mellon University
- Central Connecticut State University
- Charter Oak State College
- Colgate University
- College of the Holy Cross
- Colorado State University
- Columbia University
- Connecticut College
- Creighton Law School
- Dartmouth College
- Dartmouth Medical School
- Elim Bible Institute and College
- Emmanuel College
- Fairfield University
- Flagler College
- Florida State University
- Fordham University
- Furman University
- George Fox University
- Guilford College
- Howard University
- Illinois Institute of Technology
- Indiana University
- Johns Hopkins University
- LaSalle University
- Lesley University
- Long Island University
- Louisiana State University
- Marist College
- Marquette University
- Miami University
- Michigan State University
- Mississippi University
- Mount St. Mary's University
- New College of Florida
- Nichols College
- Pennsylvania State University
- Pittsburgh State University
- Plymouth State University
- Quinnipiac University
- Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
- Rice University
- Sacred Heart University
- South Carolina State University
- Southern Connecticut State University
- St. John's University
- St. Lawrence University
- Syracuse University
- Swarthmore College
- Tallahassee Comm. College
- Texas A&M Univiersity
- Touro University
- Trinity College
- Tufts University
- University of Buffalo
- University of California, Davis
- University of California, Santa Barbara
- University of California, Riverside
- University of Central Florida
- University of Connecticut
- University of Hartford
- University of Kansas
- University of Lynchburg
- University of Maryland
- University of Mass. Med. School
- University of Miami
- University of Missouri
- University of Nebraska
- University of New Haven
- University of Northern Colorado
- University of Pittsburg
- University of Redlands California
- University of Rhode Island
- University of Texas Austin
- University of Vermont
- University of Virginia
- University of Wisconsin, Madison
- University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
- University of Wisconsin, Whitewater
- University of Wyoming
- Utah University School of Medicine
- Vance-Granville Community College
- Vassar College
- Virginia Wesleyan University
- Washington University, St. Louis
- Wesleyan University
- Westfield State University
- Western Connecticut State University
- Western Washington University
- Wheaton College
- William Smith College
- Yale University
- Youngstown State University
On April 4, 2011, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) of the Department of Education (DOE) issued a new Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) outlining the procedures that institutions should follow to remain in compliance with Title IX, the federal statute that prohibits sex discrimination in education.
Under the DCL, schools are required to develop and distribute policies regarding sexual harassment, designate a Title IX coordinator to oversee the school’s duties, train staff and students in sexual harassment and violence issues, and establish an investigation procedure and an adjudication process. Many argue that the manner in which the letter is written impairs the procedural due process rights of those students accused of sexual harassment and sexual violence, therefore calling into question the basic fairness of the disciplinary proceedings.
Further, the OCR articulated a “prompt and effective” standard for addressing notice of sexual misconduct on campuses. The general standard to be applied is a 30 to 60 day time frame to meet the promptness requirement, not just for the investigation phase of the process, but for the entire process from notice through to the final determination of any appeals and the implementation of any sanctions and remedial actions.
When a school delays their investigation and resolution processes beyond the sixty-day requirement, they are failing to adequately meet the mandated elements as set forth by the OCR for compliance with Title IX. In their efforts to comply with Title IX and to avoid suspension of federal funding, schools face pressure to find the accused guilty of sexual assault with utter disregard for the accused student’s fundamental due process rights.
Requests to Protect the Accused Student’s Fundamental Due Process Rights
Since the 2011 issuance of the DCL, there have been numerous requests from lawmakers, law professors and others calling for colleges to restore due process in the adjudication of sexual assault cases including:
- In January 2016, the Independent Women’s Forum released a policy paper, “Title IX and Freedom of Speech on College Campuses,” which deplores how colleges that adhere to “basic concepts of due process and innocence until proven guilty” could be found to be in violation of the Title lX  Publication of the IWF is the most recent in a long list of lawmakers and law professors that have issued statements calling for colleges to restore due process in the adjudication of sexual assault cases.
- On January 11, 2016, Democratic candidate and Senator Bernie Sanders called for the referral of campus sexual assault cases to the criminal justice system, which embodies an array of due process protections.
- Republican candidate and Senator Marco Rubio recently issued a statement noting that false allegations of sexual assault “can destroy lives…Certainly, we should make additional efforts to protect due process on campus.”
- On January 15, 2016, a federal court in Kentucky ruled that a campus sexual assault hearing should be regarded as a “proceeding…akin to a criminal prosecution,” and held that states should ensure that adjudicatory procedures are fair.
- In October 2015, California, governor Jerry Brown vetoed a bill last fall that would have established a mandatory minimum punishment for students found responsible of rape or sexual assault. “College campuses must deal with sexual assault fairly and with clear standards of process.”
- On October 2, 2014, a group of 20 attorneys from across the country with experience handling sexual assault cases sent a letter on to the co-sponsors of the Senate’s campus sexual assault bill. The attorneys, who have all represented students accused of sexual assault who are now suing their universities for lack of due process, wrote that while sexual assault needs to be addressed, the rights of the accused need to be preserved. Citing the Campus Accountability and Safety Act the letter provides:
“We are concerned that the complexity of the problem and the momentum to find a solution to the manner in which colleges handle these matters will overwhelm any effort to ensure fair treatment to and protect the rights of the accused — particularly with respect to due process, impartiality and the collection of evidence.”
“By presuming that all accusers are in fact ‘victims’ prior to any investigation or adjudication, the proposed legislation does a grave disservice to those accused of serious sexual offenses by ignoring a concept at the core of due process, innocent until proven guilty.”
The attorneys remind the Senators that those accused of sexual assault “face potentially life-altering consequences from an adverse decision by their schools.” Therefore, colleges and universities have a duty to ensure that accusers and the accused are “treated fairly and equitably.”
- In October of 2014, 28 Harvard law professors issued a statement that echoed the concerns of the 22 attorneys, which statement was published in the Boston Globe protesting new university-wide procedures for adjudicating accusations of sexual harassment and sexual violence. While stressing their commitment to protecting students, the law professors observed that “Harvard has adopted procedures for deciding cases of alleged sexual misconduct which lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process” and “are overwhelmingly stacked against the accused.”
The law professors highlighted “the absence of any adequate opportunity to discover the facts charged and to confront witnesses and present a defense at an adversary hearing,” and “the failure to ensure adequate representation for the accused, particularly for students unable to afford representation.” In addition, the Harvard legal scholars objected to “the lodging of the functions of investigation, prosecution, fact-finding, and appellate review in one office and the fact that that office is itself a Title IX compliance office whose principle task is to root out discrimination against women rather than an entity that could be considered structurally impartial.”
Call an Experienced Due Process Lawyer to Protect the Due Process of the Wrongfully Accused
There are devastating, deep and long-lasting impacts on those wrongly accused of sexual assault who are denied fair and equitable treatment by their colleges in investigating and adjudicating alleged sexual misconduct. If you or someone that you know is wrongfully accused, it is imperative that you speak to an attorney who is familiar with Title IX and the lack of due process afforded to the accused as soon as possible. Our highly experienced Title IX and Conduct Code attorneys are available to review all of the specifics associated with your case on an immediate basis in order to protect your rights. Call the knowledgeable attorneys at Duffy Law today at 203-946-2000.