University of Washington Title IX
A student accused of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct faces serious and lasting potential consequences. Accused students have certain due process rights during a University of Washington Title IX investigation and any resulting disciplinary proceedings. Colleges and universities face ongoing pressure from various groups to protect alleged victims and to swiftly punish students accused of sexual misconduct. It is therefore important for students to have a knowledgeable Washington Title IX defense attorney protecting their rights throughout the Title IX process. Blair & Kim, PLLC, is experienced in Title IX investigations and university disciplinary procedures.Sexual Misconduct Allegations
Title IX of the Education Amendment Act of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, including sexual harassment, in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. For purposes of Title IX, sexual harassment includes dating violence and sexual assault. However, in some cases, students may be accused of sexual misconduct that is not covered by Title IX.Student Code of Conduct for the University of Washington
The Student Code of Conduct for the University of Washington (“Student Code”) is set forth in Chapter 478-121 of the Washington Administrative Code. The Student Code includes sections on Discriminatory Harassment, Intimate Partner Violence, Sexual Assault, and Sexual Harassment. Part VII of the Student Code is dedicated to “COMPLIANCE WITH DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION FEDERAL REGULATIONS REGARDING SEXUAL HARASSMENT.” WAC 478-121-605 identifies conduct included within the definition of “sexual harassment” under the Title IX regulations. The Student Code states that the Title IX procedures set forth in Part VII are only applicable to conduct listed under WAC 478-121-605 if that conduct “occurs in a university education program or activity” and “is against a person in the United States.” Conduct that is prohibited by WAC 478-121-605 that does not meet that criteria will not be subject to the University of Washington Title IX procedures set forth in Part VII but will instead be subject to other parts of the Student Code. WAC 478-121-600. This means a student could face disciplinary action for sexual harassment or sexual misconduct allegations without the procedural protections of the Title IX rules.University of Washington Title IX Process
Pursuant to Part VII of the Student Code, following a formal complaint and notice to the parties of the allegations, the university may facilitate an informal resolution process. Both parties must agree to the informal process before it can proceed, and either party may withdraw from the process before agreeing to a resolution and the investigation or adjudication process will proceed.
Parties are entitled to an advisor during the investigation process. Parties have the right to review and inspect the evidence and the university must send it to the parties and their advisors before completing the investigative report so the parties may respond before the report is completed. The investigator will provide the parties with a copy of the final investigative report at least 10 days before the hearing.
There may be a pre-hearing meeting to address procedural matters and other issues relating to the hearing, including stipulations and witness limitations.
The University of Washington applies a “preponderance of evidence” standard of proof to Title IX proceedings. This means a hearing officer may find a respondent responsible for the alleged misconduct upon a finding it is more likely than not the respondent engaged in the misconduct. The party’s advisor may ask the other party and witnesses questions at the hearing. The hearing officer will determine if the questions are relevant.
The hearing officer will issue a written determination after the hearing. One or more of the sanctions listed in WAC 478-121-210 may be imposed if the respondent is found responsible. WAC 478-121-210 also applies to other disciplinary proceedings and the sanctions range from disciplinary reprimand to permanent dismissal.
The hearing officer must provide the parties with information on the appeal procedure. WAC 478-121-660. The appeal must be received within 21 days from the service of the determination. WAC 478-121-665.Seek an Experienced Washington Title IX Defense Lawyer
The Title IX process is complex and can be extremely intimidating to a student who is unfamiliar with the procedures of a hearing. Accused University of Washington students should seek the guidance of a skilled Washington Title IX defense attorney as soon as they become aware of allegations of sexual misconduct. Events that occur early in the process, such as a determination that accusations do not meet the Title IX criteria or an agreement to engage in an informal resolution process, may have a significant impact on the student’s procedural and due process rights. At Blair & Kim, PLLC, we understand that your future may be at stake in a University of Washington Title IX proceeding. We have the knowledge and experience to guide you through the investigation, disciplinary proceedings, appeal, and beyond. We also have significant criminal defense experience if you face criminal charges associated with the allegations. Contact us today to discuss your case.