Title IX Case Delays Are Not Isolated Occurrences

Title IX Case Delays Are Not Isolated Occurrences

Maxwell Montemayor, Cristian Ponce | News

In the January 16th issue, the Tech reported on a 16-month-long Title IX Case regarding a hidden camera incident. Since then, more students have contacted the Tech to share their experiences with Caltech’s Title IX Office. In the interest of privacy, their identities will not be disclosed. Students who filed Title IX complaints will be referred to as complainants, and the subjects of the complaints will be referred to as respondents.

Case #1

One complainant told the Tech that they reported being sexually assaulted to the Title IX Office, however, they did not receive a response from the office. That was until the office reached out to them about a second (unrelated) Title IX complaint that involved the complainant.

Upon meeting with the office regarding the second report, the complainant notified the office that they had filed a report that did not receive a response. Only then did they receive assistance for their first report.

Following that meeting in winter term, the complainant did not receive another update until eight months later in November. After such a significant delay, the complainant decided to cease moving forward with the office.

The lack of support available to the complainant caused them significant emotional distress. They shared that they were informed it was unlikely that filing a case with the police would go far, as they would not be able to retrieve biological evidence. The complainant was told counseling wait times may exceed a month, so they were offered a spot in an off-campus support group. However, they had no means of getting there.

Case #2

Another complainant interviewed by the Tech told us that the length of her case extended well past the Title IX Office’s standard 120 day timeline. She detailed a process with serious failings in communication.

The case was initiated in October 2022, and one year and three months later, a decision letter was released in January 2024. Both parties decided to agree to a mediation, suspending the case.

“It feels like this is just never ending, I’m really frustrated because it should not have been dragged on this long,” says the complainant. She also feels that “with some of the evidence… it should have been a very open-and-shut case.”

“I want to mentally forget these four years even happened, because it’s been going on for so long.” [MAKE QUOTE BIG]

The complainant noted the sluggish rate at which the interviews occurred. “I gave them a huge list of witnesses and they interviewed none of them, except for like two” and for one of the witnesses, “they never really started the interview with her until she like reached out and yelled at them [the Title IX office]”

The length of the investigation also made some interviews difficult. Because these interviews happened “a year after the incident” and asked questions about “a specific set of hours,” it was hard to recall certain facts.

During the investigation, a no-contact order was established between the complainant and the respondent (the person accused of sexual misconduct). Though, during the summer of 2023, the respondent made contact with the complainant, and in September of that year the Title IX office decided that he had officially violated the no-contact order.

After the complainant received notice of the decision, she emailed the office asking, “What are the next steps from here? Are there any consequences? Will [the respondent] be back [on campus] this year?” along with other questions. She did not receive a reply.

Then in fall term, the complainant finds out that the respondent is back on campus in a “very awful” way. She says she found out “by seeing him on campus”. At no point in the past did the Title IX office give her any notice that he was back on campus, and that he was in the process of being let back on campus.

“This kind of gave me a heart attack,” recalls the complainant.

Soon after, the complainant emailed the Title IX office about the ordeal, and a meeting between her, Title IX Coordinator Hima Vatti, and Deputy Title IX Coordinator Valerie Newcomb occurred the next day. They apologized for the incident.

However, the office also claimed that they had sent an email to her 12 days before she encountered the respondent, alerting her that the respondent was allowed back on campus. The complainant claims she never got the email. The respondent showed the Tech that a search for the email in her inboxes yielded no results.

The supposedly sent email also said that they wanted to schedule a meeting with the complainant to talk about the respondent’s arrival. It is worth noting that the office never followed up on their request to meet, which the complainant never responded to because she never saw the email.

The office told her the reason that the respondent was allowed back on campus, despite him breaking the no-contact order in the summer, was because he underwent a psychological evaluation which determined that he could come back. The complainant did not receive any notice or any sort of timeline of him getting back on campus.

Case #3

** **Slow responses from the Title IX office threaten to not only endanger victims, but also the Caltech community at large. A third person interviewed by the Tech chronicled the frustration they and others faced in alerting the office about an individual who has allegedly continued to violate Title IX policy, despite previous involvement with the office.

This individual was first involved with the office due to a case that resulted in a no-contact order. Following this, the respondent was the subject of a litany of complaints, involving homophobic comments, use of racial slurs, and unwanted sexual comments.

A list of 10+ witnesses was provided to the Title IX office, but the complainant who talked with The Tech expressed discontent with the rate of interviews. They describe a process that was as slow as one interview every one to two weeks.

Those involved in the complaints against the respondent note that the slow and inefficient process allowed the respondent to not only continue his problematic behavior but also approach some of the complainants. “What most people wanted was for [the respondent] to just not be in the alley anymore,” says the complainant.

The complainant who helped lead efforts against the respondent states, “You feel disrespected… I tried to make things as easy as possible for her (Vatti) and still, nothing happened“.

“The biggest impact on me was that eventually I stopped caring” they said.


In two instances, one on June 5th, 2023 and the other on February 2nd, 2024, Title IX Coordinator Hima Vatti declined to answer questions regarding Title IX practices and delays. On June 5th, she noted that “she is always eager to be happy with the Tech” but that the office was “extremely busy, especially with commencement coming up”.

In late January of this year, the Tech asked Vatti four questions regarding the Title IX process. Specifically, the questions focused on the number of full-time staff, frequency of checking the submission form and possibility of losing a complaint, when external investigators become involved, and how hearings are conducted. Vatti decided not to comment, asking to read the full story before answering the questions to understand the basis of them.

In a response received from Vatti on September 14th, 2023, Vatti commented on the delays observed in the FSRI case reported on in January. Vatti states that Title IX requires the office to balance fairness with speediness while remaining compliant with “complex legal requirements that are currently in place”. She also notes that “the complexity and scope of a Title IX case is not apparent at the very beginning, but reveals itself continuously as evidence is gathered”.

As noted in Vatti’s comment regarding the “complex legal requirements that are currently in place,” federal regulation may play a role in these excessive delays. Under the leadership of Trump appointee Besty Devos, the Department of Education has strengthened protections for respondents in Title IX cases. DeVos introduced more requirements for cases, placing more strain on Title IX offices already struggling with resources.

The changes introduced by DeVos include mandatory cross-examinations of both parties, a narrowed definition of sexual harassment, and the option to use a new “clear and convincing” standard of evidence, as opposed to the preponderance of evidence standard.

In instituting these changes, DeVos maintained that the regulation was intended to achieve a fair balance for both respondents and complainants. Proponents of DeVos’s policy overhaul contend that the Obama administration’s guidance led to an overenforcement of policy on college campuses. The Biden administration is set to roll back many of the changes introduced by DeVos, although the administration has already failed to meet two-self imposed deadlines (May & October 2023).


All complainants interviewed by the Tech described significant emotional distress resulting from delays and deficits in communication from the Title IX Office. Vatti cites changes in legal requirements, as well as complexity and scope of cases as explanations for significant delays.

On the other hand, several complainants have shared that Vatti has shown significant care in assisting with Title IX issues. One complainant noted that Vatti made herself available outside of work hours, providing her personal number to ensure an open line of communication. However, others have reported months of ghosting from the office. \

Some of the same complainants that have discussed Hima’s personal efforts, amongst others, characterize the office’s handling of cases as “incompetent at best, malicious at worst.” Whether the cause of delays relate to federal policy changes, a lack of resources, or misaligned incentives, students are suffering.

“I genuinely feel unsafe on campus because he’s here and I know what he’s capable of”, says the complainant of the second case mentioned in this article. With regard to the uncertainty and lack of support from the Title IX office she faces, she is not alone.