AUSTIN (KXAN) — A president and football coach headlined the aftershocks of Thursday’s report on Baylor University, but the criticism of the Title IX sex assault investigations are a familiar refrain across the country. The report heavily scrutinized Baylor’s Title IX department for their inaction and incomplete investigations into sexual assault allegations.
But incompetent Title IX investigations have been alleged at several campuses including the University of Texas. Brian Roark sued UT’s Title IX department earlier this year and the Baylor report was different, yet very familiar.
“It is an opposite situation but it is all part of the same problem,” Roark said.
The problem, as Roark and others claim, is Title IX investigators typically do not have the investigatory experience one would expect from a detective or someone who conducts criminal investigations. Roark says that leads to incomplete investigations, inaccurate results and unfair conclusions.
In February, Roark filed suit on behalf of a student who was expelled from UT following a Title IX sex assault investigation despite no criminal charges ever being filed. The suit alleges UT, in an effort to uphold a reputation as a university committed to stopping sex assault, skirted the expelled student’s due process rights.
The Baylor report is an example of, as Roark put it, the sword swinging both ways.
The report prepared by Pepper Hamilton said Title IX investigations at Baylor “failed to identify and interview readily apparent witnesses or gather relevant evidence” and indicates the success of the football team may have led to inaction in reinforcing “an overall perception that football was above the rules.”
Possible special interest, federal pressure and incentive, and a lack of experienced investigators are why Title IX sex assault investigations are a difficult situation according to Roark. He and others have questioned whether universities should be conducting their own investigations at all.
“Universities have different reasons for wanting particular outcomes on these cases and they can spin the facts however they want,” said Roark. “You need an independent investigator trying to figure out what happened rather than someone trying to push the case to a particular conclusion.”
A bill filed in congress last year would require some level of law enforcement involvement in sex assault allegations on campus before the university could administer their own investigation or discipline.What is Title IX?
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights enforces, among other statutes, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Title IX protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that received Federal financial assistance.
The DOE says education programs and activities that receives federal funds must “operate in a nondiscriminatory manner.”