Oct. 9, 2018, Quintez Cephus filed a complaint with the U.S. District Court alleging that the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents and its administrators Lauren Hasselbacher, Cathy Trueba and Rebecca Blank have violated his fifth amendment rights to due process and equal protection, and alleges racial discrimination.

Cephus is under investigation by the University of Wisconsin Office of Compliance’s Title IX department concerning alleged sexual assault of two UW students. Cephus also stands criminal trial for the same events. Oct. 11, 2018, Cephus entered a not guilty plea for third degree sexual assault and second degree sexual assault of an intoxicated victim.

Thus, an issue arises, as Cephus rightfully claims. Cephus is being asked to participate in UW’s Title IX investigation but cannot “meaningfully participate” without waiving his fifth amendment right against self-incrimination. Doing so could potentially jeopardize his criminal case, but by not participating in the Title IX investigation, he will almost inevitably be found responsible and will suffer severe sanctions, like potential expulsion.

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In their complaint, available to the public via PACER, the Public Access to Court Electronic Records of the U.S. District Courts, Cephus and his attorney demonstrate that he was willing to participate in the Title IX investigation, but upon knowledge of impending criminal charges from the Dane County District Attorney, they informed the university that Cephus would no longer be able to participate in their investigation. Hasselbacher, UW’s Title IX Coordinator, released the initial investigative report Aug. 31 even though Cephus was not available for an interview.

UW and the Board of Regents should halt its Title IX investigation immediately to avoid any sort of constitutional violation, and should wait until the conclusion of Cephus’ criminal trial. By allowing the criminal trial to take place, UW can ensure that they have made the proper decision regarding this case and have collected all evidence and statements necessary.

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Title IX investigations are not held to the same standards as criminal trials. They do not have to provide evidence to convince a jury of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, as would be required in a criminal trial.

In a letter to Cephus’ Attorney, Raymond Taffora, UW vice chancellor for legal affairs, wrote “UW-Madison strives to provide a fair and impartial investigation in a timely matter and will consider available information. That being said, the university’s process is separate from the criminal process, has different legal requirements, has different potential consequences and is expected to move more swiftly than criminal proceedings. Accordingly, the university will not delay the conclusion of its Title IX process until the resolution of the concurrent criminal proceedings.”

Clearly, the university is not bound by the same legal standards as criminal justice. By not adhering to the same standards as criminal hearings and by not staying their investigation due to a criminal trial, the university could expel Cephus, depriving him of his protected interest in his education, his job prospects and his reputation, without due process of the law.

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Title IX is a part of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 U.S. Code § 1681). It states that “no person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” This is obviously derived from the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

In 2011, a directive from the Obama administration, known as the “Dear Colleague Letter,” advised universities on the policies with which to handle sexual harassment and assault, suggesting to use a preponderance of evidence standard (i.e., it is more likely than not sexual harassment or violence occurred). This is a low standard of evidence compared to “clear and convincing,” and even further from “without a reasonable doubt.” Luckily, this directive has since been withdrawn by the secretary of education, Betsy DeVos, moving to a higher, but still quite low, “clear and convincing” evidence standard. But the institutions and procedures of the Obama-era guidelines still remain.

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Now this is not to say Cephus is innocent. It’s not to say that the Title IX coordinators have bad intentions. But these anti-due process, kangaroo court hearings that have no legal basis and an extremely low standard of evidence need to be stopped. In an effort to uphold due process rights for the accused and for justice to prevail, UW ought to halt its Title IX investigation and rely on the system to reveal the truth.

Andrew Stein ([email protected]) is a senior majoring in political science and economics.