Being accused of sexual misconduct in any form can be a confusing and stressful experience. There are campus resources available to answer your questions and offer you support through the process. You’ll notice that if you are accused of sexual misconduct, you are referred to in the process as the “respondent”. Under the Sexual Misconduct Policy, both the respondent and complainant have the right to a fair and equitable adjudication process.
Resources for Respondents to Complaints of Sexual Misconduct
Every University of Delaware student, faculty, and staff member has the right to expect a learning and working environment that is safe, fair, inclusive, and accepting. In order to support students, faculty, and staff throughout a complaint process, university resources for accused individuals include counseling, health, and mental health assistance, as well as assistance in changing academic, living, transportation, and working situations as needed.
The university will conduct a fair and neutral process for cases of sexual misconduct, and the full procedures are detailed in the Non-Discrimination, Sexual Misconduct, and Title IX Policy. Questions concerning these procedures can be addressed to Danica Myers, Title IX Coordinator, and Director, Office of Equity & inclusion.
Respondents to claims of sexual misconduct at the University of Delaware are all entitled to the following rights:
- Be treated with respect by all University officials;
- Be informed of the policy (or policies) alleged to have been violated, the sanction to be applied if the respondent agrees the allegations are accurate and the process for disputing the allegation(s) or recommended sanction(s);
- Be notified of available counseling, mental health, medical and legal services both on campus and in the community;
- Be free of any form of retaliation and to report such retaliation for disciplinary action;
- An adequate, reliable, impartial and prompt investigation of the allegations conducted within a reasonable period of time after the complaint is filed;
- Be accompanied by up to two support persons throughout the process, including at any interviews;
- Be kept informed of the status of the investigation, to the extent possible;
- Review all documents that are made available to the complainant;
- Have past unrelated behavior excluded from the investigation process;
- Receive written notice of the date, time and location of any interview scheduled with the investigator;
- Question the selection of the investigator and the person(s) deciding the sanction on the basis of a conflict of interest or demonstrated bias;
- Meet with the investigator and present information on their own behalf, identify witnesses or other third parties who might have relevant information and identify or provide relevant documents or other information the respondent believes may be helpful to the investigation;
- Refuse to answer any question or make any statement if also facing criminal charges;
- Be notified of the outcome and sanction(s), as appropriate, in writing, as soon as possible and at the same time as the complaint;
- Initiate an appeal of the finding or sanction;
- Participate in the appeal process, if initiated by the complainant; and
- Waive any of the rights contained herein.
If You Are a Respondent
Any member of the University community who is reported to have committed act(s) of sexual misconduct may be subject to disciplinary action and/or criminal charges. University disciplinary action may occur whether or not criminal charges are filed.
Non-retaliation policy – It is a violation of University policy to retaliate in any way against students or employees because they have raised allegations of sexual or other discriminatory harassment. Person(s) against whom the complaint is lodged also bear a responsibility to abstain from retaliatory behavior toward the complainant(s) and/or any individual participating in the investigation.
My Friend is a Respondent
If a friend or someone you know is reported to have committed act(s) of sexual misconduct, it is likely that you have questions and may be struggling to understand what has happened. You may be experiencing a range of emotions such as helplessness, anger, confusion or betrayal. If your friend has told you that they have been reported to have committed act(s) of sexual violence, they may be turning to you for help and support. You may be unsure how to respond to your friend or the situation.
Here are a few ways you can help your friend through this experience:
- Direct your friend to resources. The Office of Equity & Inclusion can and will help a Respondent understand their rights, resources and what may happen next. Helping your friend access these resources is a step you can take to provide support in what may be a confusing and emotional time for both of you.
- Recommend that your friend seek counseling services to deal with their emotions. It may also be helpful for you to seek counseling to help you process any emotions and trauma you may be experiencing as a result of the situation.
- Get educated on the issue of sexual misconduct. The information on this Web site can answer some of the questions you may have. If you are seeking additional information on sexual violence, please contact Student Wellness and Health Promotion.
- Be available to listen in a non-judgmental manner. They may not feel comfortable talking about the matter, but let your friend know you will listen.
- Familiarize yourself with the Sexual Misconduct Policy.
Remember, being a good friend does not mean:
- Approving of your friend’s actions and/or choices. You can help your friend without making a judgment as to whether or not an act of sexual misconduct occurred. Determining if a crime or policy violation took place is the responsibility of the legal system and/or campus administrators.
- Telling your friend what to do.
- Blaming the student who has brought the complaint.
- Telling others about what might have happened and violating their confidentiality and trust.
- Taking action. Violence or retaliation is not the answer to helping your friend. Remember, harassing and threatening behaviors are not helpful and could undermine any court or university proceeding taking place. It could also jeopardize your own standing at the University.
What to Expect Next (the investigative process):