A Complainant has the right, and can expect, to have reports taken seriously by the College when notified, and to have these incidents investigated and adjudicated in an impartial, timely, and thorough manner by individuals who receive annual training in conducting investigations of sexual violence, the effects of trauma and impartiality.
Resolution procedures are guided by principles of fairness and respect for all parties. As referenced above, both on-campus and off-campus resources and support are available for both students and employees, whether as Complainants or Respondents, to provide guidance throughout the investigation and resolution of complaints.
A Complainant may withdraw a complaint or report from the College at any time, without penalty.
All proceedings are conducted in compliance with the requirements of FERPA, the Clery Act, Title IX, the Violence Against Women Act, federal, state and local law, and College policy.
Complainant’s Request Not to Pursue an Investigation
If a Complainant does not wish for his/her name to be shared, does not wish for an investigation to take place, or does not want a formal resolution to be pursued, the Complainant may make such a request to the Title IX Coordinator or designee, who will evaluate that request in light of the duty to ensure the safety of the campus and comply with federal law. In cases indicating pattern, predation, threat, weapons and/or violence, the College will likely be unable to honor a request for confidentiality.Where the Complainant requests confidentiality and the circumstances allow the College to honor that request, the College may offer interim supports and remedies to the Complainant and the Community, but will not otherwise pursue formal action.
Privacy in Reporting
The College is committed to maintaining the privacy of all parties involved and every effort will be made to protect privacy interests in a manner consistent with the need for a thorough review.
Information provided to non-confidential campus employees will be relayed only as necessary to assist the Title IX Coordinator or designee iin the active review, investigation and/or resolution of the complaint. While not bound by confidentiality, the circle of people with this knowledge will be kept as tight as possible to preserve a Complaint's and Respondent's rights and privacy.
C. Receipt of Notice Upon receipt of notice of any allegation of sexual misconduct, the College shall ensure that Complainants are advised of their right to:
“notify proper law enforcement authorities, including on-campus and local police;
be assisted by campus authorities in notifying law enforcement authorities if the Complainant so chooses; and
decline to notify such authorities.” 20 U.S.C. §1092 (f)(8)(B)(iii)(III)(aa)-(cc).
The College will also inform the Complainant of his/her right to be protected from retaliation for reporting an incident in good faith, even if the report is not later substantiated.
If a Complainant chooses to file a report with the Harrison Police Department or any other applicable law enforcement agency, upon request, the College will assist the Complainant in doing so. Any criminal investigation performed by law enforcement will be separate from the investigation performed by the College. Disciplinary action will normally proceed concurrently with these civil and/or criminal proceedings and will not be subject to challenge on the grounds that civil or criminal charges involving the same incident have been dismissed or reduced. The College may undertake a short delay (several days to weeks) in it's investigation or resolution process, to comply with a law enforcement request for cooperation (e.g. to allow for criminal evidence collection) when criminal charges on the basis of the same behaviors that invoke this process are being investigated. The College will promptly resume it's investigation and processes once notified by law enforcement that the initial evidence collection process is complete.
IV. Initial Assessment
Following receipt of notice or a report of misconduct, the Title IX Coordinator or designee will immediately appoint an investigator to conduct an initial Title IX assessment. The goal of this assessment is to determine whether there is reasonable cause to believe the Sexual Misconduct Policy has been violated, and to initiate an integrated and coordinated response. The investigation will consider the nature and circumstances of the allegations, the safety of both the individual and wider campus Community, and the Complainant’s preference for resolution.
Normally within five business days, at the conclusion of the initial Title IX assessment, the Title IX Coordinator will determine: (1) whether a policy violation may have occurred, and (2) the appropriate manner of resolution, either through an Informal Conflict Resolution process or the initiation of a more Formal Investigation and Proceeding. If the reported misconduct does not appear to violate a policy, then the report does not proceed to a full investigation, unless a pattern of misconduct is suspected.
Both the Complainant and Respondent may have a Support Person assist in providing support throughout the investigation and resolution of a complaint. The Support Person may be any individual, including an attorney engaged at the party’s expense, who is not otherwise a party or witness in the investigation. S/he may accompany the Complainant or Respondent to any meeting or related proceeding with an investigator or a College employee. While the Support Person may confer quietly with the Complainant or Respondent to provide advice or support, s/he may not speak or write on the Complainant or Respondent’s behalf or otherwise actively participate in the meeting or proceeding.
A full investigation will proceed if there is reasonable cause to believe a policy violation may have occurred, evidence of a pattern of misconduct, or a perceived threat of further harm to the Community or any of its members. The College will make every effort to successfully resolve all reports (through, if applicable, the imposition of sanctions) within 60 days. The time allotted for the procedural appeal process is not included in the 60 days. V. Interim Measures
If, in the judgment of the Title IX Coordinator or designee, the safety or well-being of any member(s) of the campus Community may be jeopardized by the presence on campus of the accused individual or the ongoing activity of a student organization whose behavior is in question, the Title IX Coordinator or designee may provide interim responsive and/or protective actions. These measures may include, but are not limited to:
Referral to counseling and health services;
Referral to the Employee Assistance Program;
Altering the housing situation of the Respondent (resident student or resident employee) or the Complainant, if desired;
Altering work arrangements for employees;
Implementing contact limitations between the parties;
Offering academic adjustments.
The College may issue a No Contact Contract whereby continued intentional contact by the Respondent with the Complainant would be a violation of College policy subject to additional conduct charges. No Contact Contracts are institutional documents that do not have the legal effect of orders of protection, which are obtained through a court.
The Title IX Coordinator or designee has sole discretion to implement or stay an interim suspension under the Sexual Misconduct Policy, and to determine its conditions and duration.
Both the Complainant and Respondent shall, upon request and consistent with the College’s policies and procedures, be afforded a prompt review, reasonable under the circumstances, of the need for and terms of any such interim measure or accommodation that directly affects him or her, and shall be allowed to submit evidence in support of this request.
VI. Investigation A. Pending Civil and/or Criminal Procedures
The College’s Title IX process will not typically be altered or precluded on the grounds that civil or criminal charges involving the same incident have been filed or that charges have been dismissed or reduced. However, the College may undertake a short delay (several days to weeks) in its investigation or resolution process, to comply with a law enforcement request for cooperation (e.g. to allow for criminal evidence collection) when criminal charges on the basis of the same behaviors that invoke this process are being investigated. The College will promptly resume its investigation and processes once notified by law enforcement that the initial evidence collection process is complete.
B. Informal Conflict Resolution Procedure
The informal conflict resolution procedure may be considered for less serious inappropriate behaviors. Some incidents can be resolved through mediation or other interventions as long as both parties agree to participate voluntarily. Where the Title IX assessment concludes that informal resolution is appropriate, the College will take corrective action through the imposition of individual and Community remedies. These may include, but are not limited to, referral to counseling and health services, altering housing situations, academic adjustments, educational programming or training, and supported direct confrontation of the Respondent.
The College will offer mediation for appropriate cases, but will not compel a Complainant to engage in mediation, to directly confront the Respondent, or to participate in any form of voluntary resolution. Mediation, even if voluntary, is not appropriate for any form of sexual assault, dating/domestic violence or stalking.
Once the Title IX Coordinator has made an initial determination that a policy violation has occurred, the informal resolution procedure will be resolved within 30 days. Either party may change his or her mind at any point in time and elect to pursue a formal resolution.
If reported misconduct is resolved at this stage, the Title IX Coordinator or designee will inform the Complainant and Respondent of the final determination through the issuance of an Outcome Letter, setting forth the Policy violations and sanctions imposed.
C. Formal Procedure
If the initial Title IX assessment concludes that more serious disciplinary action may be appropriate and the Complainant wishes to pursue a formal resolution, the College will initiate a formal investigation.
The formal investigative procedure will typically include interviews with the Complainant and Respondent separately and any identified witnesses. The investigative team will also gather any available physical evidence, including, but not limited to, documents, communications between the parties, and other electronic records. Investigators will conduct the investigation in a manner appropriate to the circumstances of the case with sensitivity and respect, mindful of individual privacy concerns.
At the conclusion of the investigation, the investigative team will prepare a written report that summarizes the information gathered, the areas of agreement and disagreement between the parties, and any supporting information or accounts. This document analyzes relevant facts that will be used in reaching a determination, based upon a preponderance of the evidence standard, of whether the Sexual Misconduct Policy has been violated.
Before the report is finalized, the investigators will meet separately with the Complainant and Respondent to review the information that will be used in reaching their determination. Either party may raise concerns about the inclusion of any evidence that s/he believes may be harmful, even if relevant. The Complainant and/or Respondent may also present additional new evidence for consideration within five business days of the meeting. Investigators will consider such evidence, if appropriate, and issue a final report determining whether there is sufficient information to find, by a preponderance of the evidence, that a policy violation has occurred.
Once informed of the investigative findings by the Title IX Coordinator or designee, the Respondent may choose to admit responsibility for the alleged policy violation. At that point, the Title IX Coordinator or designee will render a decision that the individual is in violation of College policy for the admitted conduct and will determine an appropriate sanction. If the sanction is accepted by both the Complainant and Respondent, the Title IX Coordinator or designee will implement it, and act promptly and effectively to remedy the effects of the admitted conduct upon the Complainant and the Community. If either party rejects the sanction, a formal Hearing will be held, according to the procedures set forth below.
APPEAL PROCESS An appeal may be made only on justifiable grounds including:
A procedural error or omission occurred that significantly impacted the outcome of the Hearing or the sanction imposed;
New evidence, unknown or not reasonably available during the investigation or Hearing, that could substantially impact the original finding;
Review of whether sanctions imposed are substantially disproportionate to the severity of the violation.
APPEAL TO TITLE IX APPEAL OFFICER
In writing, within 5 business days of the delivery of the written findings of the Title IX Hearing Panel, send appeal to the Title IX Coordinator or designee.
The Title IX Appeal Officer will review the appeal and determine if one of the three ground(s) for appeal have been met.
The Title IX Appeal Officer will review the appeal based only upon the grounds identified.
If no ground for appeal exists, the appeal will be denied. The decision of the Title IX Appeal Officer shall be final and not appealable.
C. Principles governing appeals:
Appeals are confined to a review of the written record on appeal, limited to evidence presented at the Hearing, and documentation pertinent to the grounds for appeal. The Title IX Appeal Officer shall not consider matters outside of the Hearing record in making a determination.
Appeals granted based on new evidence will be remanded to the original Hearing Panel, who will then review the factual findings to determine if the new information changes the factual finding. If the Panel determines that the factual finding has changed, the new factual finding will be returned to the Title IX Coordinator for sanctioning.
Sanctions imposed by the Title IX Coordinator are normally implemented immediately and remain in place throughout the appeal process.
All parties will be informed of the final decision of the Title IX Appeal Officer via email and by letter within five business days of receipt of the appeal from the Title IX Coordinator. The decision of the Title IX Appeal Officer is final and may not be appealed.