Harassment defense lawyer in St. Louis, Missouri. Accusations of a Title IX violation are a serious matter, no matter what the nature of the allegations. If you’ve been accused or are under investigation, it’s important to remember that the world is not ending, and you still have rights under the law. At Combs Law Group, our Title IX defense lawyers in St. Louis, MO have the experience, dedication and skill necessary to secure the most favorable outcome in your case. We will listen to your side of the story, and work with you to develop a strategy that best protects your future. Speak to a harassment defense lawyer in St. Louis, MO today at (314) 900-HELP or contact us online for a free, confidential consultation.
What is Title IX?
Title IX was part of the Education Amendments of 1972, and seeks to protect students in universities and colleges from discrimination based on sex. The text reads:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
Through various Supreme Court rulings, Title IX has been interpreted to include protection from various types of sexual violence and sexual misconduct including sexual assault, sexual harassment and stalking. Because of this, schools are required to investigate alleged or suspected sex crimes, or risk losing their federal funding. Because they could lose their funding, schools are strongly incentivized to investigate and punish someone accused, even if the evidence doesn’t indicate that the allegations occurred, or occurred as the accuser alleges.
What Can a Harassment Defense Lawyer in St. Louis, Missouri Do For Me?
Whenever you’re faced with allegations of wrongdoing, and those accusations could lead to long-term consequences for your future, the right legal representation in St. Louis, MO is critical. Most people never have to defend themselves against allegations of sexual harassment, and are understandably unsure of what to do, and what will happen. As part of our legal representation, our St. Louis, MO harassment defense lawyers will:
- Listen to your side of the story
- Answer the phone whenever you call, day or night
- Work with you to develop an effective legal defense strategy
- Investigate the claims, and try to find alibis or eyewitnesses that contradict the accusations
- Ensure the school stays true to federal law and Title IX policies
- If possible, negotiate with the school’s attorneys for a favorable resolution without the need for a hearing
- Handle all legal aspects and communication, so you can focus on your mental health
What Constitutes Sexual Harassment in St. Louis, Missouri?
Title IX requires each school to have their own Title IX coordinator and write their own procedures and regulation. Meaning, each school will have its own definition of what sexual harassment is considered. The Final Rule, the Federal government’s guidelines for Title IX, break sexual harassment offenses into three categories:
- Any instance of quid pro quo by a school employee
- Any unwelcome conduct that a reasonable person would find “severe, pervasive and objectively offense”
- Any instance of sexual assault (as defined by the Clery Act), dating violence, domestic violence or stalking (as defined by the Violence Against Women Act)
St. Louis, MO schools are still given leeway in how they define sexual harassment and present it to students and employees, however most are similar. As an example, the University of Missouri system mentions:
- Quid pro quo — A school employee making access to a school aid, benefit or service based on an individual’s participation in unwanted sexual conduct
- Hostile environment — Unwanted conduct that “effectively denies” someone’s access to education or a school activity by dissuading them
- Sexual assault — Any sexual act that constitutes rape, sodomy, sexual assault with an object, fondling, incest or statutory rape
- Dating violence — Violence committed by someone who is or has been in a romantic or intimate relationship with the alleged victim, based on the length of the relationship, the type of relationship and how often you interacted
- Domestic violence — Any felony or misdemeanor offenses or violent crimes committed by:
- A current or former spouse or intimate partner of the alleged victim
- Someone who has a child in common with the alleged victim
- Someone whose relationship to the alleged victim fits into the definition of “domestic victim” as defined by Missouri Revised Statute §565.002
- Stalking — A course of conduct that would make a reasonable person to fear for their safety or the safety of others, or suffer substantial emotional distress
At Combs Law, our St. Louis, MO harassment defense lawyers know that actions can be misunderstood or taken out of context, or sometimes situations get out of hand. We also understand that people can make poor decisions they later regret. Whatever your case, we’ll stand by your side and work to get you the most favorable resolution possible in your case, whether that means proving the allegations false, or working with school officials to limit the academic consequences of the investigation.
What Are My Rights Under Title IX If I’ve Been Accused of Harassment in St. Louis, MO?
The U.S. Department of Education has, in the Title IX Final Rule, required schools to follow a fair grievance process, which incorporates due process principles. The fair grievance process includes:
- Giving both parties written notice of the allegations
- Allowing both parties to choose their own advisor (your attorney), and an opportunity to submit and review evidence
- Allowing both parties to use trained Title IX personnel, who have no conflict of interest and can review evidence objectively
- Requiring written consent before using medical or psychological records as evidence
- Requiring voluntary, written consent before using an “informal resolution” process, such as mediation or restorative justice
- Applying a presumption of innocence, meaning the school bears the burden of proof
- Using either the preponderance of the evidence standard or the clear and convincing evidence standard (both of which are lower than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard in criminal proceedings)
- Choosing the person who makes the ultimate decision as someone who is not the same person as the investigator or Title IX coordinator
- Requiring a live hearing and allowing cross-examination by each party’s advisor
- Sending both parties a written determination detailing how and why a decision was reached
- Offering both parties an equal opportunity to appeal
- Protecting all parties from retaliation
- Document and keep records of all sexual harassment reports and investigations
While friends or social groups may jump to conclusions, schools are required to offer both complainants and the accused a fair and impartial process. As part of our legal advocacy, your Combs Law St. Louis, MO harassment defense lawyer will work to ensure your school’s process is fair and within federal guidelines. If it isn’t, we’ll hold the school accountable, demand changes and even file a lawsuit if necessary.
You have a right to an impartial process and respectful treatment from the school. We’ll ensure you get it.
What Are the Consequences of a Title IX Harassment Accusation in St. Louis?
Schools can decide which of two evidentiary standards they wish to use when finding if someone should be punished for violation of a Title IX offense:
- The preponderance of the evidence — With this standard, the decision maker must simply decide if it’s more likely than not that the events occurred as the accused claims; or, if it’s more than 50% likely that the offense happened.
- Clear and convincing evidence — Under this standard, they must decide if the allegations are highly and substantially more likely to be true; or, if it’s more than 75% more likely that offense occurred.
Regardless of which standard they use, the punishment for different offenses is left up to each school to decide themselves. Depending on your school and the nature and severity of the offense, your punishment may be:
- Mandatory counseling or sensitivity training
- A change in class schedule
- Banishment from certain activities
Your St. Louis, MO Title IX defense lawyer will work to ensure the consequences of the alleged violations are reduced, if not eliminated completely.
Will I Face Criminal Charges For Harassment Accusations in St. Louis, Missouri?
If the violation is also a criminal offense, it’s possible that you may face criminal charges. While schools and accusers are not required to report allegations to law enforcement, they may do so if they wish. Additionally, law enforcement may subpoena a school’s records of their investigation if they suspect a crime has occurred. Title IX and criminal investigations happen independently from each other, and may occur at the same time.
Combs Law’s attorneys are also experienced criminal defense lawyers who a proven track record in St. Louis and Missouri of getting favorable outcomes for their clients who have been accused of crimes. If you hire us, we can work to protect your future in both your Title IX case and your criminal case, if you have one. While a Title IX investigation cannot result in jail time or fines, the consequences can still be severe.
Protect Your Future With An Experienced Harassment Defense Lawyer in St. Louis, Missouri
Whatever the nature of the allegations against you, you deserve to have your voice heard and have a right to both a fair process and legal representation. A Title IX violation can have a profound effect on your future, and your academic and professional prospects. Our Title IX harassment defense lawyers in St. Louis, MO will protect your rights and use our experience and dedication to get you the most favorable outcome possible. Call us today at (314) 900-HELP or contact us online for a free, confidential consultation.