Earlier this spring, Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey, LLC’s Alex Stalvey, managing partner, attended the Fourth Annual Symposium on Representing Students Accused of Sexual Assault in Washington, D.C. This conference is put together by attorneys from across the nation who defend university students accused of sexual assault.
Stalvey has extensive experience with Title IX defense cases. Allegations of on-campus sexual misconduct can result in expulsion from a university without formal criminal charges ever being filed. The university is not bound by the normal rules of evidence or criminal procedure. In most cases, a student can be expelled without being given the opportunity for a formal questioning of witnesses, including the person making the allegation.
“Students accused of Title IX violations by their universities are at a significant disadvantage from the outset of the investigation through the disciplinary proceeding,” Stalvey said. “Students typically don’t have the right to counsel or the right to cross-examine their accusers. Despite this unfair process, students face expulsion and other consequences that will affect the rest of their lives. It is critical to get a lawyer involved in the defense of one of these cases as early in the process as possible.”
The April 4, 2011 Dear Colleague Letter from the U.S. Department of Education, combined with public pressure and investigations, led colleges and universities to revamp how administration handled sexual assault complaints. Students accused of sexual misconduct complained that the retooled investigative efforts and hearing processes adversely impacted the rights of both parties involved.
In September 2017, the Department of Education rescinded its guidance to schools on how to deal with sexual assault on campus, reversing course on a federal policy that played an important role in driving schools to do more to protect sexual assault victims. While federal guidance on campus sexual-assault policy has returned to the pre-2011 era, college policies must reflect a changed and constantly shifting legal landscape.
Title IX, of the Education Amendments of 1972, protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) vigorously enforces Title IX to ensure that institutions that receive federal financial assistance comply with the law. OCR evaluates, investigates and resolves complaints alleging sex discrimination. In the 1990s, the U.S. Supreme Court issued three decisions clarifying that Title IX requires schools to respond appropriately to reports of sexual harassment and sexual violence against students.
Title IX cases are serious offenses that need to be handled with care by an experienced legal team. If you are involved in a pending Title IX case, contact Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey, LLC, today, to schedule a consultation. Our attorneys will fight for your rights, no matter what side of the case you’re on.
Alex Stalvey is a managing partner of Bannister, Wyatt & Stalvey, LLC. He is a former prosecutor and currently handles complex criminal and civil litigation for the firm. He is a member of the Judicial Conference of the Fourth Circuit and the Qui Tam Section of the Federal Bar Association. Alex currently serves on the Board of Governors for the S.C. Association for Justice and is a former board member of the South Carolina Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.
In 2014, he was certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy in the area of criminal trial advocacy.