Title IX, the law that prohibits sex discrimination in schools that receive federal aid, is generally known for its effect on collegiate sports and for empowering young women to report sexual abuse at American colleges. However, the provision is increasingly being used by young men in order to clear their names and secure settlements after having been expelled from colleges for sexual assault.
At the Washington Post, T. Rees Shapiro reports on this development in education law, writing that many of these young men claim that “colleges are acting with gender bias against them.” In the past six years, over 150 lawsuits have been filed against American institutions of higher learning “involving claims of due-process violations during the course of Title IX investigations and proceedings related to sex-assault allegations.” This represents more than a tenfold increase in such lawsuits from the prior two decades.
The increase comes after the 2011 promulgation by the Department of Education advising American colleges to use a lower “preponderance of evidence” standard when adjudicating sexual assault cases on campus.
In recent years, the number of lawsuits filed against universities for due-process violations has increased dramatically. Andrew Miltenberg, a lawyer who has represented Neal and other male clients in such cases, said the federal guidance tilted the disciplinary process against the accused.
“It has almost created a new class of victims, and those victims are young men who essentially have been railroaded,” Miltenberg said.
But many plaintiffs are finding success in court with arguments that internal college investigations were flawed or biased.
“Now judges are digging deeper,” said Brett Sokolow, a lawyer who is president of the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management. “They are losing trust in the good faith that colleges had when addressing these situations. And that’s a very dangerous position for colleges.”
SAVE Services, an advocacy group for individuals accused of sexual assault, notes that nearly three-quarters of such lawsuits brought against colleges from 1993-2015 “ended in settlements or rulings that at least partially benefited the plaintiffs.”