Investigation Process and Resolution

INVESTIGATION PROCESS AND RESOLUTION

Where the Title IX assessment concludes that a violation of this policy may have occurred, the College will initiate an investigation. The College will inform and seek to obtain consent from the complainant (or his or her parents if he or she is under 18 years of age) before beginning an investigation. If an individual wishes to proceed with an investigation of a sexual misconduct complaint, a written request should be forwarded to a member of the Title IX Team.

Investigation
The Title IX Coordinator will acknowledge receipt of the complaint, notify and obtain consent from the accused, and assign an investigative team. If the accused party is a faculty member, the investigative team will include a faculty representative.

All complaints of sex discrimination will be investigated by members of the Title IX Team who have been trained in sexual misconduct investigation. The investigation will be conducted with impartiality, respect, and sensitivity, and will as far as possible protect the privacy of all. The investigation will be timely but thorough. The assigned investigators will act as neutral fact-finders, interviewing the complainant, the accused, the witnesses, and gathering any other relevant evidence. Any real or perceived conflicts of interest between the fact-finders or decision-maker and the parties must be disclosed.

The investigators will consider the totality of the facts and circumstances involved in the incident, including the nature of the alleged conduct and the context in which it occurred.

The complainant and the accused are entitled to an equal opportunity to present relevant witnesses and other evidence and similar and timely access to any information that will be used during the investigation. Both parties are entitled to the same opportunities to have others present during a proceeding, including opportunities to be accompanied by an advisor of their choice at any meeting or interview but the advisor may not participate in the meeting or interview.

Parties will not be allowed to personally question or cross-examine each other during the investigation.

When the investigation is complete, the investigators will determine whether the Gordon College Sexual Misconduct Policy was violated. The Standard of Proof for the determination of responsible or not responsible will be the “preponderance of evidence” standard, meaning that the investigators must be convinced that, in light of all the information presented, it is more likely than not that the sexual misconduct policy was violated.

Timeframe for Investigations
Many times, sexual misconduct has an impact on both individuals and the College community. Therefore the College is committed to addressing all reports and complaints in a timely manner. The College will make all efforts to complete its investigation and any resulting disciplinary measures generally within 45 days after the receipt of the original complaint or report. If an appeal is made, the determination on the appeal will be made as expeditiously as possible.
An actual timeframe for investigation will vary depending on the complexity of the investigation and the severity and extent of the sexual misconduct. The College will provide both parties with periodic status updates with respect to any extension of the timeframe.

Report of Findings
The investigators will prepare a Summary Report of Findings, which will include the facts, the finding of responsible or not responsible, and a synthesis of relevant information supporting a finding of violation or no violation. This report will be shared with the complainant and the accused for their review. Each party may request another meeting with the investigators or submit a written response within a reasonable timeframe determined by the investigators.

If the accused is found to have violated this policy, the Summary Report of Findings will be submitted to the appropriate disciplinary authority who will determine sanctions (see below). A complete record of the investigation will be held by the Title IX Coordinator.

Notice of Outcome
The College will notify the parties simultaneously of the outcome of the investigation, sanctions, if any, and their rights to appeal in writing, normally within two business days after the decision is made, in accordance with applicable laws.

When the conduct involves a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense, the College may disclose to the complainant the final results of a disciplinary proceeding against the accused, regardless of whether the College concluded that a violation was committed. Further, the College may disclose to anyone the final results of a disciplinary proceeding if it determines that the student is a perpetrator of a crime of violence or a non-forcible sex offense, and with respect to the allegation made, the student has committed a violation of the College’s rules or policies.

Other Notices
The College will make timely reports to the campus community on crimes considered to be a threat to other students and employees, (e.g. sex offense) that are reported to campus security or local police agencies. Such report shall be provided to students and employees in a manner that is timely, that withholds the name of victims as confidential, and that will aid in the prevention of similar occurrences.

Individual Remedies for the Complainant
Dependent on the specific nature of the problem, the College will provide appropriate remedies for the complainant, including, but not limited to:

  • Providing an escort to ensure that the complainant can move safely between classes and activities
  • Ensuring that the complainant and accused do not attend the same classes
  • Moving the complainant and accused to a different residence halls
  • Providing counseling services
  • Providing medical services
  • Providing academic support services, such as tutoring
  • Arranging for the complainant to re-take a course or withdraw from a class without penalty, including ensuring that any changes do not adversely affect the complainant’s academic record
  • Reviewing any disciplinary actions taken against the complainant to see if there is a casual connection between the harassment and the misconduct that may have resulted in the complainant being disciplined.

Consequences
The consequences of acts of sexual misconduct can reach far beyond the individuals immediately involved, affecting friends and co-workers, and leading to an atmosphere of fear, suspicion, and lack of trust. Therefore, serious sanctions will be used to reasonably ensure that such actions are never repeated. Not all forms of sexual misconduct will be judged to be equally serious offenses, and the College reserves the right to impose different sanctions appropriate to the behavior.

In determining the appropriate sanctions, the College officer may consider the statements of the complainant and accused regarding the impact of the behavior/incident, any ongoing risk to either the complainant or the community posed by the accused; the impact of the violations or sanctions on the community; any previous conduct violations.

If there is finding of responsibility and the accused is a student, the dean of student life will determine penalties. See the Student Handbook section on Disciplinary Sanctions.

If the accused is a faculty member, the report will be forwarded to the provost who will determine disciplinary action.

If the accused is a staff member, the report will be forwarded to the vice president for finance and administration who will implement appropriate disciplinary action. For an employee, disciplinary action may consist of a warning, reassignment, disciplinary probation, performing community service, suspension, mandatory counseling, or termination of employment.

The College officer, or other appropriate administrator, will communicate with any administrator, faculty or staff who require the information to carry out the sanction. The result should provide remedies to the complainant and the campus community that end the sexual misconduct and prevent its recurrence.

If the accused is no longer a student or employee of the College at the time the complaint is made, the College may be limited in the extent of the investigation or ability to take disciplinary action.

Right to Appeal
Both the complainant and the accused have the right to appeal both the determination and the sanction within seven days of the notice of outcome. Grounds of appeal are limited to:

  • Procedural error that significantly impacted the outcome
  • Substantive new evidence that was not reasonably available at the time of the investigation that could significantly impact the outcome
  • Belief that a sanction is substantially disproportionate to the findings.

If the person making the appeal is a student, the appeal should be made to the vice president for student life. If the person making the appeal is a faculty member, the appeal may be made to the president of the College. If the person making the appeal is a staff member, the appeal should be made to the executive vice president and chief of staff.

The reviewer of the appeal will notify the other party who will be permitted to respond to the appeal within five days of notice. The reviewer will have access to the Investigator’s file, and may interview the complainant, the accused, witnesses, and the Title IX Investigators. The reviewer will make a decision within a reasonable time of receiving the appeal. The reviewer may either affirm the decision, affirm a finding as to the existence of a policy violation but modify the prescribed correction action, or, in the case of new evidence, return the case to the Title IX Investigative team for further consideration. The decision of the reviewer shall be final, and no further appeals will be permitted. A copy of the final appeal decision will be provided to both parties.

Support Resources
Gordon College encourages all students to avail themselves of the support resources provided on campus. Any individual who has encountered sexual misconduct, whether as a complainant, an accused party, a witness, or a concerned friend, will have equal access to support and counseling services through the College. There are several support resources on campus provide varying degrees of confidentiality (see section on Confidentiality).

Confidential Resources and Support
Some College professionals are designated as Confidential Resources, and can provide advice, support and guidance in the context of a professional relationship without reporting their conversation to the College. Individuals wishing to talk to someone about an incident of sexual
misconduct in a confidential manner without making a report to the College or triggering an investigation or action by the College may utilize the following confidential medical and mental health resources.

Gordon’s Counseling Center, Health Center, and the Chapel Office are three offices that will provide free and confidential services to students who have experienced sexual misconduct. Personal information will not be shared with anyone else without the student’s consent, except in “life-threatening” situations or if required by law.

See list of all resources in Appendix A.