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Title IX Lawyer

One of the greatest threats to a student’s college career is a Title IX investigation. Traditional principles such as the presumption of innocence have been reversed on many college campuses when an accusation of sexual misconduct has been made.Title IX lawyer Students, and their parents, are often caught off guard by the bias of school investigators and hearing officers. Lawyer Steve Graham is recognized experts on the defense of Title IX cases and are available to assist students across the northwest. They have successfully helped scores of students at University of Washington, Washington State University, Western Washington University, Eastern Washington University, and Gonzaga University. Mr. Graham was invited to testify at the hearings on Title IX for the Department of Education in D.C., and has been asked to speak to train other lawyers on the subject of university discipline defense.

Background on Title IX

Title IX was originally enacted in 1972, and the law provides only that students may not “be excluded from participation in … any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance” on the basis of sex. undefinedHowever, more recently this law has been construed to require that universities start expelling more students accused of sexual misconduct. In 2011, the Office of Civil Rights in D.C. issued the “Dear Colleague Letter” which prohibited universities from providing too many rights to the accused. The letter also threatened colleges with a loss of funding if they did not handle Title IX investigations in the way that the government wanted. Although university students still face a system where the deck has been stacked against them, some positive changes have been made to federal policy in the last year.

Rights of the Accused

In addition to the rights a student has under his or her school conduct code, the current Secretary of Education also has mandated that school provide the following procedural rights:

  • The university investigator must be free of actual or reasonably perceived conflicts of interest and bias.
  • The university has the burden to gather sufficient evidence to reach a fair, impartial determination as to whether sexual misconduct has occurred.
  • When an investigation is opened, written notice of the allegations constituting a potential violation of the school’s sexual misconduct policy must be given to the accused, including sufficient details and with sufficient time to prepare a response before any initial interview.
  • Written notice of the interview must be given in advance so the accused has time to prepare.

Title IX Hearings at University of Washington, Washington State University, and Eastern Washington University

At most public universities in Washington state, there is an investigator appointed to interview the parties and he or she issues a report with findings as to whether or not sexual misconduct or rape occurred. Investigators include: Mags Aleks (UW), Timothy Orten (EWU), Stephanie Devore (WSU), Holly Ashkannejhad (WSU), and Nikki Finnestead (WSU). In Washington state, students have greater procedural rights than in other states, and the ultimate decision in such cases is typically left to an independent decision maker, and this is often a judge from the Office of Administrative Hearings or a lawyer from an independent law firm. Due to new court decisions in Washington, an accused is able to have his lawyer cross-examine the witnesses against him, and is able to argue the case on the behalf of the accused. A Title IX lawyer is also able to assist in investigating the matter and preparing the defense. When handling a Title IX case, it is important for a student to be aware of the potential criminal penalties for an allegation of sexual assault or rape in the second degree.

Free Consultation

If you are facing a Title IX investigation, it is important to contact an attorney in Washington state that has experience at your school. Every state has a different set of laws and regulations. Attorney Steve Graham has experience at all of Washington’s public universities. Although his main office is in Spokane, Mr. Graham practice throughout state, and often work with students in Seattle, Bellingham, Olympia and Tacoma, as well as Spokane and Pullman. Learn more about expulsions and questions about Title IX.