Disciplinary Process: Sexual Misconduct Including Sexual Assault

Sexual Misconduct (including sexual assault) Investigation and Adjudication Process

Any student who experiences conduct that the student believes violates the College’s Sexual Misconduct policy is encouraged to report that conduct to CSS or the Dean’s Office. The student is also encouraged to make a report to the police for legal action. Both of these processes can happen simultaneously. For the purposes of this description, the student who reports an experience of sexual assault or sexual misconduct is called the “complainant”. The student who is accused of committing sexual assault or sexual misconduct is called the “respondent”. Both the complainant and the respondent are encouraged to participate in the process of investigation and adjudication.

Before the process of investigation and adjudication starts, several steps are taken:

a. Both complainant and respondent will be assigned to a dean. The dean will explain to them the process, and will also serve as a resource for any questions or concerns.

b. A no-contact order (which also includes confidentiality requirements) between the complainant and respondent will be issued if one is not already in place. This helps ensure the integrity and privacy of the process.

I. Investigation:

a. Both the complainant and the respondent have the right to have their dean or another member of the college’s staff (for example, a member of the Sexual Assault Survivor Support team) present with them for all parts of the process, including the investigation.

b. If a student reports a sexual assault but does not wish to participate in the investigation and adjudication process, the situation will be reviewed by the Title IX Committee. (This committee ordinarily consists of the Director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, the Dean of the College, a representative of the Davis Center, and a representative of Health Services). That committee will determine whether there is sufficient information to proceed with an investigation and adjudication without the participation of the complainant, and also whether there is evidence of a risk to the larger campus community such that a timely warning to the campus should be issued.

c. If a respondent does not wish to participate in the investigation and adjudication process, the process will proceed without their contribution to the determination of the facts of the case.

d. The Dean of the College will assign a person trained in sexual assault investigations to determine the facts of the case as completely as possible. This investigator will take primary statements from the complainant and respondent, ask follow up questions, reach out to and collect statements from others who have evidence/information relevant to the question of violation of the code of conduct, and ask follow-up questions as needed. The complainant and respondent may each suggest questions to the investigator to be asked of others, and may also suggest others that the investigator speak with. Final decisions about whom to talk with and what to ask will be made by the investigator. All of those contacted by the investigator will be required to maintain the privacy of the investigation The investigator will also pull together any additional evidence available (for example, health care records (with permission of the student) previous disciplinary records, etc.) The investigator may consult with the Dean of the College in decisions regarding the investigation process. The statements of the complainant and respondent will be recorded (audio). The investigator will produce for the hearing panel a report of his/her findings, which will include a list of those interviewed, copies of any additional material referenced, and the recorded statements of the complainant and respondent. The Dean of the College will review the report and may request that additional information be gathered. The Dean will also ensure that the report does not contain material that is inadmissible in the decision process, such as irrelevant prior sexual history.

e. The investigator’s report will be shared with the complainant and respondent once it is complete. The complainant and respondent each have 10 days following the receipt of the report to write a response to it if they wish to do so. Responses will be included in the official materials sent forward to the hearing panel for adjudication.

II. Primary adjudication:

The decision about whether there has been a violation of the College’s Code of Conduct regarding sexual misconduct (including sexual assault) will be made by a hearing panel of three staff members. The panel will be drawn from a pool of trained staff. If such a violation is found to have taken place, then the same panel also determines a sanction. Two “yes” votes are necessary for a finding that there has been a violation.

a. For each case the panel will be appointed by the Dean of the College. The panel will ordinarily consist a member of the office of the Dean of the College plus two additional staff. The complainant and respondent will have the opportunity to state whether there are those they feel should not participate in the panel due to bias or any other reason which would prevent them from making a fair assessment of the evidence. The final decision on any such requests for recusal will be made by the Dean of the College.

b. The panel will start its deliberations by reading the statements gathered by the investigator and the investigator’s report, along with the responses to the report (if any) from the complainant and respondent. After discussion, the panel will decide whether there are additional questions that need to be asked. If so, the investigator will go back to the parties to ask those questions.

c. The panel will decide whether there is a preponderance of evidence showing a violation of the college’s code of conduct as regards sexual misconduct.

d. If the panel determines that there has been a violation of the code of conduct regarding sexual misconduct, the complainant and respondent will each have the opportunity to briefly address the committee, either in person, by phone or Skype, or in writing, before the sanction is determined. (The two parties would do this separately – neither one in the presence of the other. It is optional to make such a statement, not required.) This opportunity is not one in which the facts of the case are discussed or questions are asked by the committee. Rather, it is an opportunity for both parties to present directly to the committee in their own “voice” any additional information, including information about the impact of the incident in question. This opportunity is limited to 15 minutes or the written equivalent thereof. The students’ deans will provide them with guidelines on what is and is not permitted in this part of the process.

e. The committee then determines a sanction. The decision and the sanction are communicated to both parties, in writing, by the Dean of the College.

III. Appeal:

Both parties have the right to request an appeal of the decision made by the hearing panel. The right to appeal is limited to (a) significant procedural lapses or (b) the appearance of substantive new evidence not available at the time of the original decision. Each party has 15 days following the receipt of the written decision to indicate their intention to appeal. Requests for appeal, with reasons, should be sent in writing to the Vice President for Strategic Planning and Institutional Diversity (SPID), who is also the college’s primary Title IX officer.

a. If the either complainant or respondent wishes to have other people interviewed to determine whether they have substantive new information pertinent to the appeal that was not available at the time of the original decision, the following process will be followed. (1) The student will write to the Dean of the College describing whom they wish to have interviewed and on what topic. (2) The Dean or her designee will ask the person whether they do, in fact, have information on that topic. (3) If they do, the investigator will ask them questions or request a written statement. The appeal process will be suspended until the completion of these steps.

b. Appeals will be granted only in cases where the procedural problems or new evidence are considered substantive enough to have had significantly affected the outcome of the initial hearing. If the appeal is granted, its disposition is determined by the VP for SPID, who may affirm the decision of the panel, return it to the original committee or summon a new committee, and who may task those committees with reviewing the decision either in whole or in part. An appeal may result in an increase in sanction, a decrease in sanction, or no change. If the appeal is not granted, or is granted and the decision of the panel is affirmed by the SPID, there are no further methods for redress within the College.

IV. Additional matters:

a. Support. The complainant and respondent will each be assigned a dean to help them navigate the process. Each party can bring the supporting dean with them for all parts of the process, including the investigation. Students may also request an alternative support person, such as a member of SASS, or a professor or coach. In no case may the support person be someone other than a College employee. No attorneys or parents or other family members may attend any part of the process, even if those people are employees of the College. Deans assigned to support students will not be part of a hearing panel regarding those students.

b. Both parties have full access to the support services in the Health Center and Psychological Counseling Services throughout the process.

c. Retaliation. Retaliation of any kind against the student reporting assault or against any witness is strictly prohibited. Any retaliation will be treated as a new and additional violation of the code of conduct.