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Distinction Between Title IX Investigation Disciplinary Process and Criminal Procedures

  • Case Results
  • Testimonials
  • List of Schools

Case Results

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 college

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Client Testimonials

"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

“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

“I hired Felice Duffy 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

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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
  • Belmont Abbey College
  • Bowling Green State University
  • Brandeis University
  • Brown University
  • Charter Oak State College
  • Colgate University
  • College of the Holy Cross
  • Columbia University
  • Connecticut College
  • Creighton Law School
  • Dartmouth 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
  • Lesley University
  • Louisiana State University
  • Marist College
  • Marquette University
  • Miami University
  • Michigan State University
  • Mississippi University
  • Pennsylvania State University
  • Plymouth State University
  • Quinnipiac University
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
  • Rice University
  • Sacred Heart University
  • South Carolina State University
  • St. John's University
  • St. Lawrence University
  • Syracuse University
  • Swarthmore College
  • Tallahassee Comm. College
  • Texas A/M, College Station
  • Touro University
  • Trinity College
  • Tufts University
  • University of California, Riverside
  • University of Connecticut
  • 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 Northern Colorado
  • University of Texas
  • University of Virginia
  • University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
  • University of Wisconsin, Whitewater
  • Utah University School of Medicine
  • Vassar College
  • Virginia Wesleyan University
  • Washington University, St. Louis
  • Wesleyan University
  • Westfield State University
  • Western Washington University
  • Wheaton College
  • William Smith College
  • Yale University
  • Youngstown State University

A survivor of sexual assault can pursue either a campus administrative complaint process or a criminal process through the local law enforcement, or both. In order for a survivor to determine if they should proceed with one process or the other, or both, it is important to review the specifics of a case with a Title IX attorney.

A general review of some of the key differences includes the following:

Goals: A criminal investigation is intended to determine if an individual violated a criminal law. The goal is to protect and preserve public safety and to punish individuals who break the law. The goals in a college disciplinary process are education, safety and a safe campus environment.

Governing Law: State statutes/penal codes, rules of criminal procedure as federal criminal law are applied in the criminal justice system. This varies from the disciplinary process which applies Title IX, The Clery Act[1] as amended by the Violence Against Women Act as well as rules that govern specific colleges or universities.

Investigators: A criminal investigation is conducted by police or law enforcement. In a college disciplinary process, the investigation is conducted by individuals who are employed or retained by the college or university.

Parties: The prosecutor and the defendant(accused) are the parties in a criminal trial. The parties in the disciplinary process vary by school. Some institutions consider the school and the respondent (accused) to be the parties while sometimes the reporting individual (survivor) and the respondent(accused) constitute the parties.

• Privacy: A criminal trial is open to the public. Disciplinary proceedings are kept as private as possible although some information is shared. The Office for Civil Rights provides that a “school should take requests for confidentiality seriously, while at the same time considering its responsibility to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all students, including the student who reported the sexual violence.”

• Standard of Evidence: A standard known as “beyond a reasonable doubt”[2] is applied to criminal matters. A lesser standard known as “preponderance of the evidence[3] applies to a violation of a disciplinary rule meaning that the violation was “more likely than not.” Because the standards for pursuing and completing criminal investigations are different from those used for Title IX investigations, the termination of a criminal investigation without an arrest or conviction does not affect the school’s Title IX obligations.

Comparison of a Title IX vs Criminal Proceedings

Title IX ProceedingsCriminal Trial
Standard of Proof Varies

Preponderance of Evidence refers to a certainty of guilt that is a feather weight over 50%

Clear and Convincing Evidence is between “Preponderance of Evidence” and “Beyond a Reasonable Doubt”

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

“A reasonable doubt exists when a factfinder cannot say with moral certainty that a person is guilty or a particular fact exists. It must be more than an imaginary doubt, and it is often defined judicially as such doubt as would cause a reasonable person to hesitate before acting in a matter of importance.” — Websters

Applicable laws / Deadlines
  • School-specific rules & deadlines
  • These rules may vary from semester to semester.
  • State & Federal laws
  • Deadlines determined at state level
Judgment Makers Administrators

Usually a panel of school employees; may sometimes include students

Appeals In many cases, both parties may appeal a ruling Only the accused can appeal a guilty ruling. No “double-jeopardy” allowed.
Entitled to a lawyer No, some schools may forbid outside counsel (except in cases of sexual assault) Yes, and if you can’t afford one, one will be provided.
Investigators School employees Law enforcement
Rules of Evidence
  • No strict guidelines. Sometimes hearsay and rumors can be used as evidence.
  • Witnesses are not placed under oath. Little to no consequences for lying.
  • Evidence may not be shared with both parties”
  • Very strict rules about what is admissible and what is not
  • Witnesses are placed under oath and can be held accountable for perjury.
  • Evidence is available to both parties”
Consequences & Punishments.

What’s at stake?

  • Sanctions, including expulsion or suspension.
  • Loss of credits.
  • Damaged Reputation.
  • Lost tuition.
  • Criminal penalties such as prison, felony, or sex offender registration.
Ability to cross-examine? Cross-examination is limited or even forbidden altogether. Both parties have the right to cross examine witnesses and evidence

Contact an Experienced National Title IX Attorney

An individual may be prosecuted under a state criminal justice system and disciplined through a college or university disciplinary process. Even if the criminal justice authorities choose not to prosecute, the accused may be subject to university disciplinary action. Disciplinary procedures are considered distinct and independent of any and all criminal procedures and may precede, occur simultaneously, or follow court action. Once a school knows about a sexual assault incident, it must promptly investigate it – within 60 days generally- and, although it may be temporarily suspended to allow for the criminal investigation, it should not be suspended for long- generally about ten days.

The intricacies of both the criminal justice system and the disciplinary process make it necessary to speak to the highly knowledge lawyers at Duffy Law based on their extensive experience with Title IX actions. Duffy Law attorneys are prepared to discuss your situation today by calling 203-946-2000.





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