Formal Investigation Process


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Formal Investigation Procedures

Investigations into prohibited conduct reports will be conducted by the Campus Title IX office or its designee. Except, investigations into stalking of a non-sexual nature will be conducted by the campus office or official that investigates non-sexual Student Conduct Code complaints, a human resources representative or a supervisor. If a prohibited conduct investigation reveals possible misconduct other than sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, relationship violence, or related retaliation, the campus Title IX office or its designee will forward this information to the campus office responsible for investigating that possible misconduct. However, amnesty is provided for certain drug and alcohol related offenses that come to light during a prohibited conduct investigation, as discussed in Section VI below.

The University’s procedures for investigating and resolving incidents of prohibited conduct are based upon principles of fairness and respect for complainants and respondents. For more information about investigations, see FAQ: Investigations and Accommodations.

  1. STANDARD OF PROOF

    The University applies the preponderance of the evidence standard when determining whether this policy has been violated.  “Preponderance of the evidence” means that it is more likely than not that a policy violation has occurred.

  2. B. EXPECTATIONS, OPPORTUNITIES, AND OBLIGATIONS OF AND FOR COMPLAINANTS AND RESPONDENTS

    Complainants and respondents can expect the following in connection with reports submitted under this policy:

    1. Prompt and fair resolution of prohibited conduct reports.
    2. Privacy in accordance with this policy and law.
    3. Information about applicable support and advocacy resources.
    4. Protection from retaliation as defined in this policy.
    5. Timely notice of any meeting or proceeding at which the person’s presence is contemplated by this policy.
    6. Written notice to the respondent of the allegations constituting a potential violation of this policy, including sufficient details and with sufficient time to prepare a response before any initial interview.
    7. Timely and equal access to information that will be used after the prohibited conduct investigation and during disciplinary meetings and hearings, where available.
    8. Receipt of periodic updates, and updates upon request, on the status of the investigation and adjudication procedures.
    9. An explanation if the timeline for completion of the investigation and adjudication procedures must be extended.
    10. Contact from the University after the investigation is concluded to determine whether additional supportive measures are needed.
    11. Proceedings that are conducted by individuals who: (1) do not have a conflict of interest or bias for or against the complainant or respondent; (2) receive annual training on prohibited conduct and procedures for investigating prohibited conduct complaints that protect the safety of the parties and promote accountability; and (3) treat all participants with dignity.
    12. To not be required to resolve prohibited conduct concerns directly with the other party, such as through mediation.

    In addition, the campus Title IX office or its designee will ensure that the complainant receives a written explanation of applicable resources, and is offered the opportunity to discuss those resources. If the University undertakes an investigation or any other action under this policy that impacts a respondent, the campus Title IX office or its designee will ensure that the respondent is notified, receives a written explanation of applicable resources, and is offered the opportunity to meet to discuss those resources.

    Complainants and respondents have the following opportunities in connection with reports submitted under this policy:

    1. To express concerns about the proceedings or processes under this policy.
    2. To offer information, submit evidence, and identify witnesses during an investigation.

    Complainants and respondents have the following obligations in connection with reports submitted under this policy:

    1. To not retaliate against any person as defined in this policy.
    2. To provide truthful information in connection with any report, investigation, proceeding or resolution under this policy.
  3. DUTY TO PARTICIPATE

    Complainants are not required to participate in prohibited conduct investigations. However, the University may be limited in its ability to respond to a prohibited conduct report without the complainant’s participation. When requested, respondents are required to meet with the campus Title IX office or its designee without undue delay to, at a minimum, hear the detailed allegations asserted against them. Respondents are not required to respond to these allegations, and the fact of their failure to provide any response will not be used to support a finding of responsibility. However, where a complainant or respondent refuses to provide relevant information in an investigation, the campus Title IX office or its designee will make a finding based only on the information available.

    Employees who are exempted from reporting sexual misconduct under Section II are not required to participate in prohibited conduct investigations as witnesses.

    All other University members are required to participate in prohibited conduct investigations to ensure that the most complete information is available for the University to determine whether prohibited conduct occurred. The Title IX Coordinator or a designee may excuse University members from this requirement in certain circumstances, such as where the University member is unlikely to provide significant relevant information or where participation would be particularly burdensome for that University member. This duty to participate does not apply to student participation in prohibited conduct hearings.

    Individuals who knowingly or intentionally file a false report or provide false or misleading information in connection with an investigation may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment or expulsion. Disciplinary action is not warranted where an individual makes a prohibited conduct report or participates in a prohibited conduct investigation in good faith, even if the report or information is ultimately not substantiated. An individual makes a report or participates in a prohibited conduct investigation in good faith when that individual reasonably believes that the information they have provided is accurate.

    Reports that an individual has knowingly or intentionally filed a false report or provided false or misleading information will be addressed by the following offices: (1) for reports of students engaging in this misconduct, the campus office responsible for investigating and adjudicating potential Student Conduct Code violations other than sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking and relationship violence; (2) for reports of employees engaging in this misconduct, the employee’s supervisor or human resources representative; and (3) for reports of third parties engaging in this misconduct, the University official responsible for retaining or overseeing the third party.

  4. INITIAL ASSESSMENT

    When a campus Title IX office or its designee receives a report of prohibited conduct, it will promptly work with other appropriate University offices as necessary to complete an initial assessment of the report and any immediate health or safety concerns raised by the report. The initial assessment process will include the following tasks:

    1. Determine whether the report identifies conduct that, if it occurred as described, would violate this policy;
    2. Determine whether the report provides names or other information that identifies the complainant, the respondent, or any other person with knowledge of the reported incident;
    3. When applicable, inform the complainant of the right to seek medical treatment and provide the complainant with written notification about the importance of preserving evidence that may assist in proving that the alleged offense occurred in a legal or campus disciplinary proceeding or may be helpful in obtaining a protective order;
    4. As appropriate, provide written information to the complainant about their right to contact law enforcement, to decline to contact law enforcement, to be assisted by campus authorities in contacting law enforcement, and to seek a protective order.
    5. Provide information about available resources to the parties, including, as appropriate, providing complainant students who are transferring to another post-secondary institution with information about resources for victims of prohibited conduct at the institution to which they are transferring;
    6. Provide information to the parties about how to request accommodations or protective measures, such as changes to their academic, living, transportation, and working situations;
    7. Inform the parties about the University’s prohibition against retaliation, and that the University will take prompt action in response to any act of retaliation; and
    8. When applicable, communicate with appropriate University officials to determine whether the report triggers Clery Act obligations, including entry of the report in the daily crime log or issuance of a timely warning.
  5. ADVISOR PARTICIPATION
    1. Cases involving student respondents

      Complainants and respondents may be accompanied to meetings and hearings in the investigation and adjudication process by two advisors of their choice. An advisor may be an attorney, union representative, advocate, support person, or other individual. In limited circumstances, other individuals may be permitted to attend these meetings for good reason, such as to accommodate a disability, at the discretion of the University official conducting the meeting.

    2. Cases involving employee or third party respondents

      Complainants and respondents in sexual assault, stalking, and relationship violence cases may be accompanied to meetings in the investigation and adjudication process by an advisor of their choice. An advisor may be an attorney, union representative, advocate, support person, or other individual.

      Complainants and respondents in sexual harassment and retaliation cases may be accompanied to meetings in the investigation and adjudication process by one of the following advisors: an attorney, victim’s support advocate, or union representative.

      Other individuals may be permitted to attend these meetings for good reason, such as to accommodate a disability, at the discretion of the University official conducting the meeting.

    3. Additional information about advisor participation

      To protect the integrity of the investigation and adjudication process, individuals who are witnesses with information about facts material to the underlying case may not serve as advisors.  For more information about the responsibilities of advisors who attend meetings and hearings as allowed by this policy, please see Appendix:  Roles and Responsibilities of Advisors.

  6. INVESTIGATION PROCESS

    The nature and scope of an investigation will be determined based on the report and any additional information gathered during the investigation, and will typically include the following elements:

    1. One or more interviews of the complainant, where the complainant will have the opportunity to describe the conduct giving rise to the report, provide evidence, and identify witnesses;
    2. Written notice to the respondent of the allegations constituting potential prohibited conduct, including sufficient details and with sufficient time to prepare a response before any initial interview;
    3. One or more interviews of the respondent, where the respondent will have the opportunity to respond to the allegations, provide evidence, and identify witnesses;
    4. Witness interviews and gathering of other evidence; and
    5. Review and analysis of the evidence.

    The University strives to complete prohibited conduct investigations within 75 days. However, depending on the complexity of the investigation, the number of witnesses, the availability of evidence and other factors, some investigations may take more than 75 days.

    When a complainant requests that their identity be kept confidential or that the University refrain from conducting an investigation, the campus Title IX office or its designee will make an individualized determination of whether to conduct an investigation including consideration of the complainant’s wishes, the University’s responsibility for providing a safe and non-discriminatory campus environment, and whether the University possesses other means to obtain relevant evidence. In making this determination, the campus Title IX office or its designee will consider the following factors, among others: whether the respondent is alleged to have used a weapon while committing prohibited conduct; whether the respondent is alleged to have used force while committing prohibited conduct; and whether the respondent has been alleged or found to have committed prohibited conduct against other complainants.

    The information on this page is a subsection of the University of Minnesota's Administrative Policy for Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, Stalking and Relationship Violence.  It has been selected for this webpage based on it's relevance to students in the student conduct process.  To view this policy in its entirety, please visit the policy library.