Title IX, Student Disciplinary Proceedings, College Misconduct and Criminal Offenses at Cornell University

It is important to remember that for certain Title IX, code of conduct and other misconduct allegations and offenses, an accused person may not only be subject to Title IX proceedings, disciplinary hearings, suspension or expulsion at Cornell University, but also face criminal prosecution by the Tompkins County District Attorney’s Office under the New York State Penal Law. For example, Aggravated Harassment, Forcible Touching, Sexual Assault, Assault, Menacing, and Stalking are all crimes in New York State that would violate the criminal law and demand the guidance of a Cornell University criminal lawyer who also serves as a Cornell Title IX and student misconduct attorney.

Regardless of the crime or violation, know that Cornell University, the Ithaca Police Department and the Tompkins County District Attorney can conduct parallel investigations and pursue their respective and subjective view of “justice” independent from the other bodies. Simply, the exposure you face is significant.

Cornell University Arrests, Crimes and Misconduct

Outside of Ithaca and Cornell University, Tompkins County is fairly sparsely populated and has relatively little crime. Accordingly, the Tompkins County District Attorney's Office is small when compared to a DA's Office in New York City or the Hudson Valley. Take note, however. Relatively small does not mean inexperienced nor unskilled. The Tompkins County DA has approximately eight attorneys/prosecutors whose responsibilities are divided up generally geographically, with roughly half of the prosecutors having responsibility for some aspect of the criminal prosecutions in Ithaca.

While Cornell's Policy 6.4, “Prohibited Bias, Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual and Related Misconduct,” includes definitions of many of the terms used in the Policy, the Penal Law also has its own specific definitions of various critical terms, which may or may not differ from those used by the University. These potential distinctions are critical to understand and strategize if you find yourself simultaneously subject to both a Title IX proceeding or Dean’s Disciplinary Hearing for violating a code of conduct at Cornell University as well as criminal prosecution for the same alleged conduct by the Tompkins County District Attorney's Office.

Confluence of NY Penal Law and Cornell Policy

For example, “lack of consent,” under the Penal Law, is defined as including forcible compulsion, incapacity to consent, no express or implied acquiescence, or clear expression of non-consent. One of these forms of a “lack of consent” that is subject of much misunderstanding, and arises relatively frequently, is the concept of an “incapacity to consent” or being “incapable of consent.” This is often colloquially thought of as “statutory rape,” but it applies to many less severe allegations as well. In the State of New York, a person in incapable of consent when he or she is under the age of 17, mentally disabled, mentally incapacitated, physically helpless, or committed to the care of the state. As another example, under the New York State Penal Law, Stalking is an intentional course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes harm via mental or emotional distress, fear for the victim's health, safety or property, or the health, safety or property of their family, or fear that their employment, business or career is threatened.

Confluence of NY Family Law and Cornell Policy

Another potential area of overlap is in the New York State Family Courts. There is such a court in each county throughout New York, including Tompkins County. Family Court hears various family law related matters, including what are known as “family offenses.” These are certain violations of the Penal Law, such as Harassment, Sexual Abuse, Stalking, and Menacing, where the alleged conduct is committed by a family member, intimate partner, or where there is a child in common. In such situations, a person can not only be prosecuted criminally by the District Attorney's Office, but the victim can initiate a civil proceeding in Family Court for the same conduct. Not to be ignored, and as addressed here, the University has a right to investigate and pursue misconduct in violation of the code of conduct or Title IX independently from any other investigatory or prosecutorial body, civil or criminal.

The potential layers of overlapping and unique courses of action means one thing. It is critical to have legal counsel and representation that has knowledge and experience in all aspects any alleged misconduct. Whether you are a victim/complainant/petitioner seeking guidance to best protect yourself from a victimizer or you are an accused/defendant/respondent facing a Title IX inquiry, Dean’s Disciplinary Hearing, Family Court Order of Protection proceeding or prosecution by the Tompkins County District Attorney, you need the best guidance to navigate you through the complex processes while ensuring that your rights are protected throughout.

Make no mistake. Should you find yourself as a target or victim of any inquiry involving wrongdoing at Cornell University, arm yourself with attorneys who possess the knowledge and experience to advocate on your behalf. Day or night, the former Manhattan prosecutors and Title IX lawyers at Crotty Saland are prepared and ready to be your strongest advocate.

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

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