Timelines for Title IX Sexual Assault or Harassment Cases
A frequent question we get from clients facing a Title IX disciplinary action is how long it will take until the process is over. As with most legal issues, the answer is that it depends on a number of factors, the most common of which are:
- The process the school has implemented and how closely it follows it.
- The seriousness of the misconduct allegations.
- How much evidence exists to support claims by both the Complainant and Respondent.
- The time of year (e.g. whether school is in session or on break)
- Whether the respondent has a lawyer or not.
While all of the above factors will impact the length of time it takes to resolve a Title IX matter, a good rule of thumb is between 5 weeks and 6 months. For illustration purposes, a sample timeline is below with information about each phase.
Day 1: Allegations are made by one student against another. This can be done in a number of different ways and via a variety of channels.
Within 1 Week: A Title IX Coordinator is assigned by the school and will meet with the alleged victim to gather more information and determine whether a formal complaint will be filed.
Weeks 1-2: Assuming a formal complaint is filed, the Respondent should immediately be notified
Week 2-7: A formal investigation is started. This will include identifying and interviewing witnesses such as people who may have seen the alleged incident, health care providers, law enforcement personnel, or anyone the Complainant may have spoken to before or after the interaction. It may also include the collection of text and email messages, photos, video footage, ride share receipts, rape kit results, police reports or statements, clothing, or other evidence pertaining to the claim. This is the most critical time to have a lawyer working on your behalf.
Week 8: The Title IX Coordinator reviews the evidence and may collect summary statements from the Complainant and Respondent. A hearing date will be set.
Weeks 9-10: A formal hearing is conducted which usually lasts 1-3 days.
1-2 Weeks Later: The hearing office or committee issues a finding or outcome. The school’s sanctioning board makes a decision and notifies both parties. If applicable, the appeals process commences.
A few other notes:
Your school may be required to or voluntarily publish an estimated timeline for the process. In addition, your school may extend the the process at any time to allow for more evidence collection or analysis, etc.
The truth of the matter is that it’s impossible to predict exactly how long the disciplinary process will take. But one thing is for certain and that’s the fact that an attorney can help protect your rights at every stage, from the initial notice to the final disposition. Because of this, it’s always in your best interest to talk with an experienced Title IX attorney immediately upon receiving notice of allegations.