A jury in Washington County jury recently awarded nearly $4 million to a former Pacific University student who claimed that the school mishandled allegations of sexual assault against him. Title IX requires schools to promptly and effectively respond to reports of sexual harassment or assault. Courts uniformly are requiring that schools not forget due process during that response.
In the case of the former Pacific University student, the jury found that the school had improperly handled the allegations and violated the accused student's due process rights. The substantial monetary award emphasizes the seriousness of the school's shortcomings in this regard.
It is important for educational institutions to have clear and fair policies in place to handle Title IX accusations. This includes conducting thorough investigations, allowing cross-examination, enabling legal representation, and not prejudging the evidence. This verdict is a reminder that navigating Title IX accusations with care and ensuring due process rights for accused students are essential components of any investigation.