A man who made millions consulting with schools on how to implement Title IX policies has been accused of financial fraud by a former employee.
Brett A. Sokolow, president of the Association of Title IX Administrators (ATIXA) and founder and chair of the board at TNG, is being sued by a former executive for allegedly committing tax fraud, breach of contract, and retaliation, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported. The former employee, Martha Kopacz, served as TNG’s chief executive office until she was fired last month.
Kopacz says in her lawsuit, obtained by the Chronicle, that she was fired for reporting and objecting to multiple instances of Sokolow using company funds for personal purposes and defrauding clients. She insists in her lawsuit that she qualifies for whistleblower protection for reporting financial wrongdoing at a company that received public funds.
Kopacz alleges in her lawsuit that Sokolow committed what is known as “ghost billing fraud,” charging TNG clients Sokolow’s $700 an hour consulting fee when other consultants – who charged between $250 to $350 an hour – were actually doing the work. Kopacz also alleges that Sokolow fraudulently labeled $3 million of income as a business loan to avoid paying taxes on it, saying she reported the issue to Sokolow but that he “would not listen” and refused to recategorize the money.
Further, Kopacz alleges that Sokolow listed numerous personal expenses as business expenses, including his country club membership, DoorDash orders, and cars for himself and his wife, including $40,000 to help pay for a Lamborghini.
Kopacz says she was fired after reporting these issues.
In an email to members, Sokolow denied any wrong doing and said Kopacz is “trying to embarrass us,” referring to ATIXA, which is managed by TNG Consulting, LLC.
“Every organization has personnel challenges, and now ours are being made public,” Sokolow wrote. “In response to Marti’s allegations, I will simply share with you that TNG is subject to a rigorous external audit every single year, by BakerTilly. TNG has been given clear audits every single year, which should shed considerable light on the validity of Marti’s claims.”
Sokolow added that the reasons for Kopacz’s firing “will become clear once we file our defense to the suit,” and emphasized that her claims are related only to TNG and not ATIXA.
Sokolow has been one of the most prominent voices over the past decade when it comes to how schools handle accusations of sexual assault. His organization’s consulting and policy proposals have generally been unfriendly toward the due process rights of accused students, even as hundreds of lawsuits have been filed against schools from accused students with compelling claims that they were railroaded by colleges determined to find them responsible regardless of the evidence.
There have been few attempts by Sokolow or ATIXA to address the due process rights of accused students, even though Sokolow admitted in 2015 that not everyone who believes they are a victim really is one.
“We see complainants who genuinely believe they have been assaulted, despite overwhelming proof that it did not happen,” Sokolow wrote in a letter that year.
In 2018, ATIXA released a statement meant to guide schools “on the consideration of pattern evidence in sexual misconduct investigations and resolutions,” but used a thoroughly debunked study to claim that “a select few individuals account for the majority of campus sexual assaults, with many of these individuals committing multiple acts.”
In 2019, ATIXA gently pushed back against trauma-informed investigations that assume an accuser is traumatized from the start and conduct the investigation to prove their claims rather than seeking the truth, whatever it may be.
“Everyone in the field is on the trauma learning curve and needs to be cautious about making premature conclusions. Practitioners must wait for this body of knowledge to mature and ripen,” the organization wrote. “Perhaps the effective tools of truly understanding what causes trauma and what its effects are have not been invented yet. Regardless, for now, the aim should be to implement reputable trauma-informed investigation and interviewing practices and techniques.”
Sokolow is not without disagreement from those who side with him on policy, either. In 2014, Buzzfeed News quoted a student saying “I have watched Brett Sokolow profit from sexual violence.”