Title IX Investigations in Washington During Pending Criminal Cases

Allegations of Title IX violations against a student in Washington can have complicated investigations. According to an article from the Associated Press, a professional football player recently filed a Title IX suit against the university he previously attended arising from an investigation and disciplinary action.

According to the plaintiff’s complaint in a previous lawsuit against the university, he was subject to simultaneous university and criminal investigations. In his complaint, he argued that the simultaneous investigations required him to choose between his right against self-incrimination and participating in the Title IX process. The complaint also alleged the plaintiff’s attorney notified the university’s Title IX Coordinator that the police department had exculpatory information that was critical to the Title IX investigation.  The plaintiff alleged that, after the criminal charges were filed, his attorney asked to postpone his interview with the Title IX Coordinator until after the criminal matter was resolved. The complaint stated the university responded that it had not been able to obtain information from the district attorney’s office prior to resolution of the criminal proceedings and would not delay the conclusion of the Title IX process.  The university’s Title IX Coordinator ultimately issued a final report. In his first lawsuit, the plaintiff sought damages and a stay on the disciplinary proceedings until the criminal matter was resolved. The plaintiff voluntarily dismissed that lawsuit in March 2019, but according to news reports, his attorneys expressed an intention to refile after the criminal case concluded.

According to news reports, the plaintiff was suspended from the football team in August of 2018 and subsequently expelled from the university. A jury acquitted him of the criminal charges in August 2019. He was reinstated to the university in August and was subsequently allowed to play football. In a statement about the reinstatement posted on its website, the university stated that it “obtained information following the criminal proceeding that was not provided to the university during the student conduct process.”

According to the Associated Press article, the plaintiff’s new lawsuit, like the previous one, argues that the university should have postponed its investigation until the criminal matter was concluded due to the exculpatory evidence that could not be obtained until the criminal case concluded.

This case is different from many Title IX cases filed by students accused of sexual misconduct. In this case, the plaintiff is not seeking reinstatement. He was already reinstated. The issues regarding the concurrent criminal and university investigations, however, could make this case important to Title IX litigation.  The university’s statement that it had obtained additional information after the criminal proceedings concluded seems to support an argument for staying disciplinary action pending criminal cases. However, schools may argue that, due to the lengthy amount of time some criminal cases take, students may often graduate before their Title IX investigations can be completed if the school must stay the investigation pending the criminal case. Additionally, delays could subject the school to a Title IX claim by the alleged victim for failing to act on the complaint.

Schools are now facing pressure regarding Title IX procedures from both sides. If you are being investigated for sexual misconduct by your college or university, you need an experienced Washington Title IX defense attorney on your side throughout the process.  Call Blair & Kim, PLLC, at (206) 622-6562 to set up a consultation.

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