Does information about a complaint remain private?
The privacy of all parties to a complaint of sexual misconduct must be respected, except insofar as it interferes with the university’s obligation to fully investigate allegations of sexual misconduct. Where privacy is not strictly kept, it will still be tightly controlled on a need-to-know basis. Dissemination of information and/or written materials to persons not involved in the complaint procedure is not permitted. Violations of the privacy of the complainant or the accused individual may lead to conduct action by the university.
In all complaints of sexual misconduct, all parties will be informed of the outcome. In some instances, the administration also may choose to make a brief, public announcement of the nature of the violation and the action taken, without using the name or identifiable information of the alleged victim. Certain university administrators (i.e., President, Vice Presidents, Associate Vice Presidents, Deans, Judicial Coordinator, University Police, Athletic Director and Human Resources) are informed of the outcome within the bounds of student privacy. If there is a report of an act of alleged sexual misconduct to a conduct officer of the university, and there is evidence that a felony has occurred, university police will be notified. This does not mean charges will be automatically filed, or that a victim must speak with the police. But the institution is legally required to notify law enforcement authorities. The institution also must statistically report the occurrence on campus of major violent crimes, including certain sex offenses, in an annual report of campus crime statistics. The statistical report does not include personally-identifiable information.
Will my parents be told?
No, not unless you tell them. Whether you are the complainant or the accused individual, the University’s primary relationship is with the student, not the parent. However, in the event of major medical, disciplinary, or academic jeopardy, students are strongly encouraged to inform their parents. University officials will directly inform parents when requested to do so by a student, in a life-threatening situation, or if the accused individual has signed a written release.
Will the accused individual know my identity?
Yes, if you file a formal complaint. Sexual misconduct is a serious offense, and the accused individual has the right to know the identity of the complainant/alleged victim. If there is a hearing, the university does provide options for questioning, including using a room divider or using separate hearing rooms.
Do I have to name the perpetrator?
Yes, if you want formal disciplinary action to be taken against the alleged perpetrator. No, if you choose to respond informally and do not file a formal complaint. Victims should be aware that not identifying the perpetrator may limit the institution’s ability to respond.
What do I do if I am accused of sexual misconduct?
Do not contact the alleged victim. You may immediately want to contact someone in the campus community who can act as your advisor. You may also contact the Title IX Coordinator or University Judicial Coordinator for an explanation of the university’s procedures for addressing sexual misconduct complaints You may want to talk to a confidential counselor at Counseling Services or seek other community assistance.
Will I (as a victim) have to pay for counseling/or medical care?
JSU provides free counseling at the Counseling Services office located in 140 Daugette Hall, 256.782.5475. If a victim is accessing community and no-institutional services, payment for these will be the responsibility of the victim.
What about legal advice?
Victims of criminal sexual assault need not retain a private attorney to pursue prosecution because representation will be handled by the District Attorney’s office. You may want to retain an attorney if you are the accused individual or are considering filing a civil action. The accused individual may retain counsel at their own expense if they determine that they need legal advice about criminal prosecution and/or the campus conduct proceeding.
What about changing residence hall rooms?
If you want to move, you may request a room change. Room changes under these circumstances are considered emergencies. It is typical institutional policy that in emergency room changes, the student is moved to the first available suitable room. If you want the accused individual to move, and believe that you have been the victim of sexual misconduct, you must be willing to pursue a formal or informal university complaint. No contact orders can be imposed, and room changes for the accused individual can usually be arranged quickly. Other services available include:
- Assistance from University Housing & Residence Life in completing the relocation
- Arranging to dissolve a housing contract and pro-rating a refund
- Assistance with or rescheduling an academic assignment
- Taking an incomplete in a class
- Assistance with transferring class sections
- Temporary withdrawal
- Assistance with alternative course completion options
- Other accommodations for safety as necessary
Police are in the best position to secure evidence of a crime. Physical evidence of a criminal sexual assault must be collected from the alleged victim’s person within 120 hours, though evidence can often be obtained from towels, sheets, clothes, etc. for much longer periods of time. If you believe you have been a victim of a criminal sexual assault, you should go to the RMC Jacksonville Emergency Room before washing yourself or your clothing. A victim advocate from the institution can also accompany you to the hospital, and the University Police Department can provide transportation. If a victim goes to the hospital, University Police will be called, but the victim is not obligated to talk to the police or pursue prosecution. Having the evidence collected in this manner will help to keep all options available to a victim, but will not obligate him or her to any course of action. Collecting evidence can assist the authorities in pursuing criminal charges, should the victim decide later to exercise them.
For the victim: The hospital staff will collect evidence, check for injuries, and address pregnancy concerns and the possibility of exposure to sexually transmitted infections. If you have changed clothing since the assault, bring the clothing you had on at the time of the assault with you to the hospital in a clean, sanitary container such as a clean paper grocery bag or wrapped in a clean sheet (plastic containers do not breathe, and may render evidence useless). If you have not changed clothes, bring a change of clothes with you to the hospital, if possible, as they will likely keep the clothes you are wearing as evidence. You can take a support person with you to the hospital, and they can accompany you through the exam, if you want. Do not disturb the crime scene; leave all sheets, towels, etc. that may bear evidence for the police to collect.
Will a victim be sanctioned when reporting a sexual misconduct policy violation if they have illegally used drugs or alcohol?
No. The severity of the infraction will determine the nature of the university’s response, but whenever possible, the university will respond educationally rather than punitively to the illegal use of drugs and/or alcohol. The seriousness of sexual misconduct is a major concern, and the university does not want any of the circumstances (e.g., drug or alcohol use) to inhibit the reporting of sexual misconduct.
Will the use of drugs or alcohol affect the outcome of a sexual misconduct complaint?
The use of alcohol and/or drugs by either party will not diminish the accused individual’s responsibility. On the other hand, alcohol and/or drug use is likely to affect the complainant’s memory and, therefore, may affect the outcome of the complaint. A person bringing a complaint of sexual misconduct must either remember the alleged incident or have sufficient circumstantial evidence, physical evidence, and/or witnesses to prove his/her complaint. If the complainant does not remember the circumstances of the alleged incident, it may not be possible to impose sanctions on the accused without further corroborating information. Use of alcohol and/or drugs will never excuse a violation by an accused individual.
Will either party’s prior use of drugs and/or alcohol be a factor when reporting sexual misconduct?
Not unless there is a compelling reason to believe that prior use or abuse is relevant to the present complaint.
What should I do if I am uncertain about what happened?
If you believe that you have experienced sexual misconduct, but are unsure of whether it was a violation of the institution’s sexual misconduct policy, you should contact the Title IX Coordinator or University Judicial Coordinator.