Mel Tucker, the head coach of the Michigan State Spartans football team has recently come under fire with a Title IX complaint and investigation. The Title IX Complaint alleges that Mel Tucker made sexual comments and masturbated without consent during a phone call with Brenda Tracy, a prominent rape survivor and activist who educates athletes about sexual violence. Tucker invited Tracy to campus three times for professional engagements, including team talks and a ceremonial role at a spring football game.
Title IX can be confusing as it is technically not a legal proceeding in a traditional courtroom setting. This makes the investigation into Tucker confusing for those not familiar with the legal framework surrounding sexual harassment situations in educational settings.
Well-versed in sexual harassment cases within educational and workplace settings, attorney Michael B. Kelly of Kelly & Kelly PLLC, a legal practice based in Northville, Michigan, elucidates the complexities of Title IX investigations. Drawing from a wealth of experience in representing both complainants and respondents at university and K-12 levels across Michigan, Mike offers informed perspectives on what to expect from such a process.
Title IX Investigation Process
Investigations surrounding Title IX operate under different guidelines than traditional legal proceedings for sexual harassment accusations, due to them being governed by the educational institution itself. As Mike explains, this is one of the challenges for those trying to understand why this situation is playing out differently than expected.
One of the key aspects of Title IX is that it is a civil rights law, not a criminal law. This means that the institution is responsible for investigating the accusations and taking appropriate action. There are no criminal consequences or jail time associated specifically with Title IX, however if criminal misconduct applicable outside of Title IX occurred that can be prosecuted by the appropriate legal authorities.
According to Mike, each side of the complaint will have their own advisors representing their respective parties, the complainant and the respondent. The investigator will navigate through the policies, evidence, statements, questions and answers and give the decision maker a specified amount of time to render a decision.
You can appeal the decision on limited grounds like new evidence or procedural flaws. No jury is involved; the investigator compiles event overviews for the decision-maker.
About Education Lawyer Mike Kelly