What if I have been accused of sexual misconduct?
If a student has been formally accused (Respondent) of sexual misconduct, this means a report has been made to the university’s Title IX coordinator. The Title IX investigator (with Title IX Coordinator directly overseeing the entire process) investigates all allegations of sexual misconduct on campus. An investigation typically involves individual meetings with all students involved to gather as much information as possible about an incident. See more information about what occurs during a Title IX investigation in the Georgia College Sexual Misconduct Policy Manual (http://www.gcsu.edu/titleix/sexual-misconduct-policy).
Will I be in trouble with the university?
At the completion of an investigation by the Title IX investigator, the Title IX Coordinator will review the investigation summary with the Complainant and Respondent prior to an informal resolution or the case moving to a hearing panel. See more information about the format of an informal resolution or a hearing panel in the Georgia College Sexual Misconduct Policy Manual (http://www.gcsu.edu/titleix/sexual-misconduct-policy).
The accused student is afforded due process and is not assumed to be responsible by the hearing panel. Rather, the hearing panel weighs all evidence presented in the hearing and uses the “preponderance of the evidence” standard to determine whether an individual is responsible for violating the university’s sexual misconduct policy. “Preponderance of the evidence” means that a determination is made whether it is more likely than not that a violation occurred.
Will I get in trouble for telling my side of the story if I had been drinking alcohol or using illegal drugs?
You will not get in trouble for voluntary, personal use of drugs or alcohol. The university has an amnesty policy that prohibits someone participating in a sexual misconduct investigation from getting in trouble for voluntary, personal use of drugs or alcohol.
What if I do not remember?
The Title IX investigator will investigate to try to determine what happened. This may include speaking to others who have a better memory and reviewing physical evidence (text messages, Facebook messages, videos, etc.).
Do I have to discuss what happened with the university?
No; however, a non-verbal and/or non-written response will be considered a general denial of the alleged misconduct.
Who will find out?
The university respects the sensitive nature of incidents involving alleged sexual misconduct and takes particular care to protect the privacy of all parties involved in an incident, to the extent possible allowed by university policies and procedures and the law. Because of the nature of an investigation, those individuals who are interviewed may learn of the allegations and the identities of the individuals involved. In addition, if an investigation results in a hearing, those individuals who are involved in the hearing (hearing panel members, staff members, individuals selected as advisers by the complainant or the respondent (accused) and witnesses) also may learn more about the incident; however, these individuals have received explicit instructions regarding confidentiality and have agreed not to share information about an incident outside the conduct process.
Will my parent(s) be told?
Generally, no. Whether you are the Complainant or the Respondent (accused), the College’s primary relationship is to the student and not the parent. However, in the event of major medical, disciplinary, or academic jeopardy, students are strongly encouraged to inform their parents. College officials will directly inform parents when requested to do so by a student or in certain instances where a health or safety emergency exist.
Will I be in trouble with the public safety and/or local police?
This depends on the circumstances. In most cases, the university does not file an investigatory report with the public safety and/or the local police. The police may be notified even if the university is not notified. If criminal charges are filed, the accused student is likely to be interviewed by the police, and a grand jury will determine whether enough information is present to proceed to a court case. In cases where a grand jury determines a court case is warranted, the accused student will be indicted. If an accused student chooses not to speak to the police, then that decision will not be used against him or her in criminal court.
Should I get a lawyer?
Each student who is accused of sexual misconduct must determine for her/himself whether to retain an attorney. If criminal charges are filed or may be filed, it is advisable to retain an attorney.
What resources are available to me on campus?
If a student is accused (Respondent) of sexual misconduct, she or he can request an adviser be assigned to her/him by the Office of Legal Affairs. An adviser is a university staff member who is trained regarding the university’s sexual misconduct policy and student conduct processes and can answer questions and navigate the process(es) with an accused (Respondent) student. In addition, counselors through the University Counseling Center are available to all students who may need to speak with someone confidentially.
Will it cost me money to access these services?
Most services on campus are provided at no cost to students.
Will I get expulsion or suspension?
There is no predetermined sanction for sexual misconduct. The severity of sanctions or corrective actions may depend on the severity, frequency and/or nature of the offense, history of past discriminatory, harassing, or retaliatory conduct, the respondent’s willingness to accept responsibility, previous institutional response to similar conduct, and the institution’s interests. The Panel will determine the sanction after review of the investigatory findings.
I have received an interim suspension. What resources are available to me?
Interim suspension typically only occur where necessary to maintain safety, and is limited to those situations where the respondent poses a serious and immediate danger or threat to persons or property.
Students who have received an interim suspension – meaning, they are temporarily suspended until a full investigation and conduct hearing can take place – are typically not allowed to access campus services without first obtaining permission from the Office of Student Affairs. Interim suspension can temporarily affect a student’s ability to live on campus, access dining services, attend class, and participate in other student services and events on campus. If a student has received an interim suspension and would like to access certain support services, contact the Dean of Students in the Office of Student Affairs to facilitate this request.
I received a no-contact order. What does that mean?
No-contact orders typically give specific instructions regarding who the student should not contact. Contact includes phone calls, emails, text messages, interaction through social media or in-person encounters. Having another student contact the person named in the no-contact order also can be a violation of the order. Students who receive no-contact orders from the university should comply with the instructions in the order or risk further conduct charges being filed. A no-contact order does not mean that an investigation has commenced but may be issued in conjunction with an investigation.
Someone is threatening me. What constitutes retaliation?
Retaliation against an individual who initiates a sexual misconduct complaint, participates in an investigation, or pursues legal action, is prohibited. The university defines retaliation as anyone who, in good faith, reports what she or he believes to be misconduct under this Policy, or who participates or cooperates in, or is otherwise associated with any investigation, shall not be subjected to retaliation. Anyone who believes he or she has been the target of retaliation for reporting, participating or cooperating in, or otherwise being associated with an investigation should immediately contact the Title IX Coordinator for the institution. Any person found to have engaged in retaliation in violation of this Policy shall be subject to disciplinary action.