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Formal Complaints

Formal Complaints of Civil Rights Violations

The University is committed to providing a prompt and fair resolution of allegations that the University's civil rights policy has been violated. Investigations of civil rights complaints, including investigations of allegations of sexual violence, are conducted under the auspices of the UD Office of Civil Rights and Title IX. 

Confidentiality

Victims of violations of the University civil rights policy have the right to decide if and when they report the incident(s) to University officials. Nevertheless, the University strongly encourages reporting as soon as possible.  Prompt reporting may preserve options that delayed reporting does not, including immediate police response and preservation of evidence that may be necessary to prove an offense.

If an individual discloses an incident to a University employee but wishes to maintain confidentiality and/or requests that no investigation into a particular incident be conducted or disciplinary action taken, the University will balance a request for confidentiality with its responsibility to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment for the University community.

In addition, when the University conducts an investigation, it will maintain the confidentiality of the parties and witnesses, except as necessary to conduct the investigation, protect the University community, and comply with applicable law.

Amnesty

In order to encourage reporting of civil rights violations, a person acting in good faith who reports or otherwise participates in the reporting, investigative, or disciplinary process of an alleged violation of University civil rights policy may not be subjected to any disciplinary action by the University for any violation by the person of the University's code of conduct reasonably related to the incident unless suspension or expulsion from the University is a possible punishment. This amnesty does not apply to a person who perpetrates or assists in the perpetration of the incident that violates University civil rights policy.

 

Investigation and Discipline Process

Step One: Formal Investigation Initiated

When a formal complaint is filed, the Title IX Coordinator assigns an investigator to investigate the complaint and to prepare a written investigation report. The investigator will start by sending contemporaneous notice to the complainant (the alleged victim) and the respondent (the alleged perpetrator). The notice includes (1) a brief description of the factual allegations, (2) notice of the applicable code of conduct or policy that is alleged to have been violated, (3) a copy of/link to the University civil rights policy, and (4) a summary of available supportive measures and other resources, if applicable.

 

 

Step Two: Investigation

The investigator's full investigation will typically include interviews with the complainant, the respondent, and witnesses. The investigator will also gather such other relevant information, and will also review any information submitted by the complainant, respondent, or witnesses.

The investigator will make the evidence available to the parties at least ten (10) days prior to issuing the investigation report. The parties may submit a written response to the evidence.

Step Three: Investigation Report

When the investigation is concluded, the investigator will prepare an investigation report that summarizes the relevant evidence. The investigation report will be submitted to the Office of Civil Rights and Title IX, and the parties.

Step Four: Preparation for the Hearing

Typically, a few days before the hearing, the chair of the hearing panel, the investigator, the parties' advisors, and the parties (if they so choose), will meet to discuss the order of the hearing and whether there are any issues, such as questions regarding the relevance/admissibility of certain evidence, that the parties would like resolved prior to the hearing.

Step Five: Live Hearing

At least ten (10) days after issuance of the investigation report, a three-person hearing panel will conduct a live hearing at which both parties, and their advisors, may attend. Each party’s advisor will be permitted to ask the other party and any witnesses all relevant questions and follow-up questions. If a party does not have an advisor, the University will provide one for the hearing. The parties will be provided an equal opportunity to present witnesses and other evidence.

The University’s investigative and disciplinary processes presume that an accused person is not responsible for the alleged conduct. A determination regarding responsibility is made at the conclusion of the disciplinary process. The University sustains the allegations if the evidence establishes that it is more likely than not that the accused person committed a violation of the University Civil Rights Policy. The University bears the burden of establishing that there is sufficient evidence.

Step Six: Written Determination

The hearing panel will make an objective evaluation of all relevant evidence - including both inculpatory and exculpatory evidence - and credibility determinations may not be based on a person's status as a complainant, respondent, or witness. The hearing panel will not draw an inference about determination regarding responsibility based solely on a party's or witness's absence from the live hearing or refusal to answer questions.

The hearing panel will issue a written determination that includes (1) the allegations, (2) the procedural history of the complaint, (3) the findings of fact supporting the determination, (4) the conclusions regarding the application of the University's code of conduct and policies to the facts, (5) an explanation of the result as to each allegation and sanction imposed, and (6) the procedures and permissible bases for appeal.

The hearing panel will simultaneously provide the parties with the written determination.

Step Seven: Appeal

Both the complainant and respondent may appeal the written determination of the hearing panel. Parties may appeal based on (1) procedural irregularity, (2) new evidence, (3) conflict of interest, and (4) inconsistency with previous sanctions.

An appeal must be submitted to the Civil Rights Coordinator within seven (7) days of receipt of the written determination. The Appeal Officer will make an objective evaluation of the appeal and will make a decision as to whether the written determination was clearly erroneous. The Appeal Officer will simultaneously provide the parties with a written decision on the appeal.