KCEN interviewed W. Scott Lewis, a nationally-recognized Title IX investigator and partner with the NCHERM Group, which works with campuses on handling sexual assaults.
Lewis said Universities, not just Baylor, have misinterpreted Title IX requirements for years. According to him, the law actually required Universities to have a Title IX coordinator since its inception in the 1970s.
“To be quite frank, most schools didn’t pay attention to it,” Lewis said. “It wasn’t until the ‘Dear Colleague’ letter in 2011 that suddenly everyone started appointing a coordinator that they were supposed to have for the prior 40 years.”
On Friday, Baylor released a plan of action that includes creating more counseling space and mandating annual Title IX training for upperclassmen and graduate students. Before, only incoming students took part. Now, faculty and staff will get yearly training, too. And, Baylor promised to fully fund continuing education for those working in the Title IX Office.
Lewis said Universities need to remember that their investigations are completely independent from law enforcement investigations. Even if a prosecutor doesn’t believe he or she can prove a case to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt, Universities can still take their own disciplinary action based on what they deem to be sufficient evidence.
“They have to have effectively trained investigators to do this, not just well, but exceptionally well. They need to be able to respond promptly, effectively, impartially and resolve these matters appropriately,” Lewis added.