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Reporting Title IX Violations at Cornell University

Although retaining an advocate and Cornell Title IX attorney is likely the best strategy to protect your rights as a victim of sexual of gender based misconduct at Cornell University, Cornell makes it clear, and publicly states, that all members of the University community have the ability and the right to make a report to the Ivy League University’s Police Department, local law enforcement, and/or state police. Anyone has the right and ability to report the incident to Cornell, to be protected from retaliation for reporting the incident or incidents, and to receive assistance from the various resources Cornell offers in this regard. This is a critically important statement and insight, as it reinforces the fact that allegations and cases in this context can be incredibly complex, with entirely overlapping proceedings in various different and distinct venues, from the Criminal Courts in Ithaca City Court, the Thompkins County Court and the Thompkins County Family Court.

Cornell University further publicly states that the school encourages and prefers that individuals with such complaints and allegations report them to the University. At the same time, Cornell University also acknowledges their strong policy of honoring a complainant's wishes if that victim chooses not to go forward with the Title IX investigation and disciplinary proceedings, with certain broad exceptions such as the University's need to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment for all students and other members of the college community, including the person making the complaint.

Reporting Title IX Violations at Cornell University

The University makes it a point to support and provide various services to a complainant making such allegations under Policy 6.4, even where that person desires to end their pursuit of the Title IX proceedings. This support can include academic assistance, help with housing, transportation, employment, and other similar assistance. Also important in Cornell's public stance on Title IX proceedings and complaints, is that the University states that it cannot guarantee total confidentiality, but only promises to maintain a complainant's privacy to the “greatest extent possible.” It is important for all students, faculty and staff to realize that these are not officially considered “confidential” resources.

In addition to strongly urging complainants and victims to report harassment and discrimination to the University, Cornell publicly encourages those same individuals to report any such conduct that may constitute a crime to law enforcement, such as the local Police Department or District Attorney's Office. Cornell University's Title IX Coordinator is permitted, and makes it a policy to be willing, to assist students, staff and/or faculty in reporting such incidents and allegations to the police or other law enforcement agency, even setting up initial meetings with police and investigators. That said, if you are either a victim or a defendant, it behooves you to retain or at least consult with a knowledgeable attorney familiar with the respective processes involving Title IX, the Criminal Courts, and Family Court.

Title IX, Criminal Court and Family Court: Considerations and Issues

Students are permitted to make anonymous reports of this kind of gender-based discrimination and/or harassment or sexual assault. However, this can have a substantial impact on the nature of the Title IX proceedings, and the procedures and direction such an investigation and case take. There are several important things to note in this context. First, criminal allegations cannot be made anonymously generally speaking. There are various mechanisms within the criminal justice system in place to protect those who have been the victims of crimes and are at risk of retaliation or further victimization, such as Orders of Protection, aka, Restraining Orders or Stay Away Orders, and housing assistance and services. However, no such reporting can ever be truly confidential for many reasons, not least of which is the various Constitutional safeguards and rights provided to criminal defendants such as the right to confront and cross-examine the witnesses against them.

Second, this only applies to students making reports to the Title IX administrators, since certain faculty and staff members have a Duty to Consult, which is a legally imposed responsibility to report sexual or other similar misconduct when they become aware of it. This applies equally to student employees, such as Resident Advisors or Teaching Assistants, who may not make anonymous reports of incidents disclosed to them in the course of their employment. Beyond both the Criminal Courts and the internal processes involving Cornell University’s Title IX investigations, students or faculty, in the right circumstance, can pursue protection through the Thompkins County Family Court through an Article 8 Petition for an Order of Protection or Restraining Order.

The Title IX, criminal and family law attorneys at Saland Law can guide you through any of these procedures and venues. What are the benefits of pursuing one or all of these means of protection? How will you ensure consistency in your statements or defense to best maintain the strength and validity of each process? Will the failure of one damage or compromise your success in another venue. Simply, because all options have their own distinct remedies and benefits, none can or should be ignored.

Whether you find yourself responding to an allegation as a defendant or respondent or you need an advocate as a complainant or petitioner, you may only have one opportunity to make a strong and convincing case. Mistakes you make now can have long lasting and permanent adverse effects on your academic standing, ability to protect yourself from victimization, and your life’s trajectory. Be thorough, thoughtful, and let the Title IX, Family Court and Criminal Court lawyers at Saland Law utilize their knowledge and experience as former Manhattan prosecutors and criminal lawyers to best advocate for your rights and provide you with the protection and security you need.

Call our New York criminal defense attorneys, Cornell Title IX and disciplinary hearing lawyers at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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