Hearings & Investigations in New York
Schools outline their own policies when it comes to the details of a Title IX investigation, but all investigations are required to be thorough, fair, and prompt. Hearings are not required, but they may be included in an individual school’s investigation procedures.
All in all, Title IX investigations in New York should be resolved in around 60 days to be considered “prompt,” but timeframes can vary depending on the complexity of the case.Conducting the Investigation
Since Title IX does not outline who should conduct the investigation, schools create their own policies for choosing an investigator. In some cases, the Title IX coordinator is in charge of investigating the alleged sexual violence.
At other institutions, the Title IX coordinator does not actually conduct the investigation, but assigns investigators to the case. Some universities even employ investigation teams.
The only criteria specified by Title IX is that an investigator be impartial, trained in handling sexual assault investigations, and experienced with the university’s grievance procedures.Investigating the Complaint
Title IX offers universities and colleges flexibility when it comes to structuring investigations. In fact, the only stipulation according to Title IX is that investigations are fair and balanced for both the victim and the alleged perpetrator.
For example, Columbia University’s investigation procedure consists of:
- Conducting an initial assessment of the report
- Interviewing both parties separately, as well as any witnesses
- Preparing a report based on the interview, evidence gathered, and witness statements
- Holding a pre-determination conference to discuss resolution processes
Criminal investigations and Title IX investigations are often conducted concurrently. In fact, even if a criminal investigation is being conducted, schools must still conduct a separate Title IX investigation.
Additionally, if a criminal investigation is terminated without an arrest or conviction, a Title IX investigation must still take place in New York, since they are considered two completely separate investigations.
The main difference between a criminal investigation and a Title IX investigation is that criminal proceedings are meant to determine if criminal laws were violated and to ultimately punish the offender.
Title IX investigations, however, are intended to find resolutions to gender-based harassment problems on campus and provide interim measures for the safety of victims.
Schools are obligated to inform complainants of their right to file a criminal report, but universities are not required by Title IX to report sexual violence to the police. Depending on the location of the school, however, state and local laws may dictate the school’s reporting obligations.Title IX Hearings
Some universities choose to include hearing procedures in their Title IX investigations, which are used to determine if an act of sexual violence occurred by presenting evidence and witnesses.
The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) does not require that complainants be present for the hearing, but if one party is allowed to attend, the other party must be allowed to attend as well.
Schools must also make it possible for both parties to attend without having to be present in the same room (via closed circuit television, etc.).
Similarly, individual schools must determine if cross-examinations of witnesses, complainants, or alleged perpetrators are allowed at hearings.
Title IX and OCR does not require cross-examination, but if schools allow it, they must allow it for both parties. Additionally, OCR discourages the complainant or alleged perpetrator from questioning or cross-examining each other at hearings.