On this page

Cases in Which Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct is Alleged

I. Introduction

Consistent with federal interpretations of Title IX, the faculty process for resolving complaints involving Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct will not be applied to abridge academic freedom which includes but is not limited to curricular activities, particular textbooks, or reasonable classroom activities.

For purposes of this sub-section, capitalized terms shall have the meanings indicated in the Wheaton College Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct Policy for Staff unless context clearly indicates otherwise.

Back to top ^

II. Prohibited Conduct

Faculty are prohibited from engaging in conduct prohibited under the Wheaton College Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct Policy for Staff.

Back to top ^

III. Process for Resolving Complaints

The following outlines reporting requirements and how the College will respond to and investigate a report of faculty conduct that could constitute a violation of this policy and determine what, if any, interim measures and disciplinary action is appropriate.

(a) Reporting Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct. Responsible Employees must, within twenty-four (24) to forty-eight (48) hours, disclose to the Title IX Director incidents of Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct that come to their attention.

(b) Response to reports of Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct. The College will respond to all reports of Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct in a prompt, equitable, and effective manner.

(c) Initial Assessment and Interim Measures. After receiving notice of conduct that could constitute Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct, the Title IX Coordinator for Faculty or a designee (hereinafter ‘Title IX Coordinator for Faculty’) will take a number of initial steps. These initial steps are not an investigation. Rather, these initial steps will enable the College to assess the need to take any immediate action to address the safety and health needs of the Complaining Individual and the College community and to determine the next steps for investigating the reported conduct and the need for any interim measures. These initial steps may include, but are not limited to, the following:

Contact with the Complaining Individual. The Title IX Coordinator for Faculty will promptly contact the Complaining Individual and encourage the individual to meet to discuss the nature and circumstances of the reported conduct, review relevant documentation that is available, and address the Complaining Individual’s immediate physical safety and emotional needs, including the need for any interim measures. Examples of possible interim measures may include interim Orders of No Contact, requests for academic adjustments or other accommodations, access to additional support services, changes to living, transportation and working situations, and other actions to address the situations and concerns raised on an interim basis.  The Title IX Coordinator for Faculty will notify the Complaining Individual of the available resources for seeking medical treatment, counseling, spiritual guidance, or other interim measures. These resources can be found here: How to Help a Friend. A formal complaint is not necessary to initiate this part of the College’s process.

Disclosures Regarding Law Enforcement. The Title IX Coordinator for Faculty will notify the Complaining Individual: (1) about the availability of this policy; (2) about the right to report (or decline to report) the matter to Public Safety and/or to local law enforcement; and (3) that a report to law enforcement will not change the College’s duty to respond to the matter but it may briefly delay the timing of any investigation if a law enforcement agency requests that the College delay its process for a reasonable amount of time to allow it to gather evidence of criminal conduct.

Policy on Retaliation. The Title IX Coordinator for Faculty will inform the Complaining Individual about the College’s policy regarding retaliation. Moreover, the College will respond to any reports of retaliation immediately.

Threat Assessment. The Title IX Coordinator for Faculty will assess the reported conduct to determine whether the circumstances pose a threat to the health or safety of the College community and warrant the issuance of a Timely Warning, an Order of No Contact for any persons, or any other interim protections.

Determining Application of the Policy. If the Title IX Coordinator for Faculty determines, after speaking with the Complaining Individual, that the reported conduct would not, in any way, implicate this policy, the Title IX Coordinator for Faculty will advise the Complaining Individual of such in writing and, if appropriate, refer the reported conduct to the appropriate administrator for handling consistent with any other pertinent College policy. If new information is subsequently provided, the decision whether or not to investigate under this policy will be reevaluated.   If the Title IX Coordinator for Faculty determines the reported conduct could, in any way, implicate this policy, the Title IX Coordinator for Faculty will contact the Complaining Individual to discuss that determination and work with the Complaining Individual to initiate the grievance process under this policy. If, at this time, the Complaining Individual requests that the process not move forward, the Title IX Coordinator for Faculty, in accordance with section four of this sub-section, will weigh that request and the reasons for it against the College’s obligation to address any risk of harm to the Complaining Individual or other individuals in the community and the nature of the incident or conduct at issue. Mediation is not an option for resolving allegations involving any form of Sexual Violence.

(d) Investigation. If, during the Initial Assessment, it is determined that the reported conduct implicates this policy and the Complaining Individual initiates the grievance process or the College otherwise determines that it must move forward, the formal investigation phase will commence and include the steps outlined below. The Title IX Director or a designee will serve as the Procedural Coordinator.

Notice of Investigation. The Title IX Coordinator for Faculty, in consultation with the Procedural Coordinator, will send a copy of any written complaint along with a written notice of investigation to the Respondent that will include a description of the allegations, the prohibited conduct alleged to have occurred, and any interim measures in place about which the Respondent must be made aware. The notice of investigation does not constitute a finding or a determination of responsibility, but it will re-affirm to both parties that they are not to retaliate against each other, as that term is defined in the Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct Policy for Staff. The Title IX Coordinator for Faculty will send the Respondent the written notice of investigation within three (3) business days of the Complaining Individual initiating the grievance process or the College otherwise determining that it must move forward.

Procedural Advisors. The Title IX Coordinator for Faculty, in consultation with the Procedural Coordinator, will offer the Complainant and the Respondent an opportunity to use a Procedural Advisor. Parties may elect not to utilize a Procedural Advisor, and may select any other person to serve as an advisor-of-choice, including an attorney. Parties may also elect to participate in the grievance process without utilizing a Procedural Advisor or an advisor-of-choice. Procedural Advisors or advisors-of-choice may be present during any meeting, interview, or hearing held pursuant to the grievance process.

Individuals participating in the grievance process as a Procedural Advisor or as an advisor-of- choice must comply with this sub-section in performing their respective roles. Procedural Advisors and advisors-of-choice may not participate actively while present at any meeting, interview, or hearing and may not speak on behalf of the individual they are advising, although they may ask to suspend any meetings, interviews, or hearings briefly and in a reasonable and non-disruptive manner to provide private consultation related to the matter in progress.

Procedural Advisors or advisors-of-choice are subject to the same confidentiality expectations applicable to others in attendance. Accommodations, including scheduling of meetings, interviews, or hearings, will not be made for any advisors if they unduly or unnecessarily delay the process.

Designation of Investigator(s). The Title IX Coordinator for Faculty, in consultation with the Procedural Coordinator, will designate at least one internal investigator to conduct a prompt, fair, and impartial investigation of the reported conduct and prepare a report of investigative findings (the “Investigative Report”). At the College’s discretion, more than one investigator may be assigned. The College may also exercise discretion in assigning an external investigator to conduct the investigation with the College’s internal investigator. In addition, the College may assign an external investigator, without assigning an internal investigator.

All internal investigators will be selected from a group of qualified and trained tenured faculty employed by the College or individuals engaged by the College for the purpose of conducting investigations under the grievance process. The Title IX Coordinator for Faculty will provide the parties with the name of the investigator(s). As soon as possible, but no later than three (3) business days after receiving notice of the identity of the investigator(s), the parties should inform the Title IX Coordinator for Faculty (in writing) of any conflicts or potential conflicts of interest with regard to the selected investigator(s). The Title IX Coordinator for Faculty, in consultation with the Procedural Coordinator, will consider the nature of the conflict and determine if different individuals should be assigned as Investigator(s). The Title IX Coordinator for Faculty’s decision regarding any conflicts is final.

Nature of the Investigation. The investigation will include separate interviews with the Complainant, the Respondent, and any witnesses whom the investigator(s) believe will provide necessary and relevant information. The investigation may include the review of documentation or other items relevant to the reported conduct. The investigator(s) will provide the parties with written notice of meetings at which their presence is required.

The investigator(s) will provide a statement to each party participating in an interview that explains the applicable rules of confidentiality. Such rules include that any information learned, including questions asked or statements made by the investigator(s) are to be kept confidential and not shared with anyone except the parties’ Procedural Advisors. The investigator(s) will also explain that the Title IX Coordinator for Faculty will be available to provide support should a party wish to discuss anything learned during the course of the investigation or have any questions regarding the level of confidentiality expected.

The Parties’ Identification of Potential Witness(es) and Documentation. The parties have the opportunity (and are expected) to provide the investigator(s) with the identities of potential witnesses who have specific information about the reported conduct and with whom they would like the investigator(s) to speak. The parties also have the opportunity (and are expected) to provide the investigator(s) any documentation or other evidence they would like to be considered. All information described in this section must be presented to the investigator(s) in writing and include a brief description as to how the persons, documents, and/or evidence are relevant to the reported conduct. This information must be provided to the investigator(s) during the investigation phase and without delay upon becoming aware of it. The investigator(s) will exercise discretion in their determination of what information to consider and which potential witnesses identified by the parties can provide relevant information to the investigation.

Investigative Report. At the conclusion of the investigation phase, the investigator(s) will prepare an investigative report, which should include a summary of the factual information presented during the investigation phase. The investigative report will not include a determination by the investigator(s) as to whether a party has engaged in prohibited conduct or what sanctions may be appropriate.

(e) Hearing Committee. At the conclusion of the investigation phase, the hearing committee process will commence and include the steps outlined below.

Assignment to the Appeals and Hearing Committee.  The Procedural Coordinator will convene the Appeals and Hearing Committee to hear the matter. The Procedural Coordinator will provide the parties with the name of the persons serving on the Appeals and Hearing Committee. As soon as possible, but no later than three (3) business days after receiving notice of the identity of the Appeals and Hearing Committee members, the parties should inform the Procedural Coordinator (in writing) of any conflicts or potential conflicts of interest in regard to the Appeals and Hearing Committee members. The Procedural Coordinator, in consultation with the Appeals and Hearing Committee, will consider the nature of the conflict and determine if different individuals should serve as members of the Appeals and Hearing Committee for the limited purpose of hearing the matter. The Procedural Coordinator’s decision regarding any conflicts is final. The Procedural Coordinator will then submit the investigative report to the Appeals and Hearing Committee members and set a subsequent date for the Appeals and Hearing Committee to meet to determine responsibility and appropriate sanctions, if any.

Notice of Hearing. The Procedural Coordinator will notify the Complainant and the Respondent in writing of the time and date of the hearing at least five (5) business days prior to the hearing date.

Review of the Case File. All relevant reports, witness statements, the Complainant’s statements, the Respondent’s statements, and other relevant written materials generally will be available for review by the Complainant and the Respondent at least three (3) business days prior to the hearing.

Request for Participation of Witnesses. The Complainant and the Respondent will have the opportunity to make a request to the Procedural Coordinator for witnesses to participate in the hearing. The Chair, in consultation with the Procedural Coordinator, will determine which witnesses will participate based on the relevance of their testimony. The Complainant and the Respondent must notify the Procedural Coordinator of any witnesses who they request to participate in the hearing at least two (2) business days prior to the hearing. The Complainant and the Respondent will be notified of the names of the witnesses that the Chair has determined will be contacted to participate in the hearing no later than twenty-four (24) hours prior to the hearing.

Use of Procedural Advisors and Advisors-of-Choice. The Complainant’s and the Respondent’s Procedural Advisor or advisor-of-choice may attend the hearing. Neither the Complainant nor the Respondent may have any other advisor other than the Procedural Advisor or advisor-of-choice present during the hearing. Procedural Advisors and advisors-of-choice may not speak on a party’s behalf during the course of the hearing and will be bound by the rules of confidentiality governing the hearing.

Appeals and Hearing Committee Review.  During the hearing, normally only the investigators, the Complainant, the Respondent, Appeals and Hearing Committee members, witnesses, Procedural Advisors/advisors-of-choice and the Procedural Coordinator may be present. An Appeals and Hearing Committee hearing may be conducted in the absence of the Complainant or the Respondent, or witnesses, at the discretion of the Chair and/or the Procedural Coordinator. Witnesses may be present only when sharing information with the Appeals and Hearing Committee, unless noted at the discretion of the Chair.

The Procedural Coordinator will provide a statement to each party participating in the hearing that explains the applicable rules of confidentiality. Such rules include that any information learned, including questions asked or statements made by the Appeals and Hearing Committee or the Procedural Coordinator are to be kept confidential. The Procedural Coordinator will also explain that the Title IX Coordinator for Faculty will be available to provide support should a party wish to discuss anything learned during the course of the hearing.

The Complainant and the Respondent will not appear at the same time during the course of the hearing, and they may not directly question each other or witnesses. Both parties will be provided an opportunity to request that additional questions be directed by the Chair to other individuals appearing at the hearing. The Chair may use discretion in determining whether or not to ask such questions so long as the discretion is equitable for both parties.

The Appeals and Hearing Committee may ask questions of the Complainant, the Respondent, the witnesses, and the Investigators. The Appeals and Hearing Committee may go into closed session, temporarily excusing all participants, upon the vote of a majority of the members of the Appeals and Hearing Committee.

If the Complainant or the Respondent does not participate in the hearing or chooses not to speak, Appeals and Hearing Committee procedures will still be followed. The Complainant, the Respondent and the investigators may be given the opportunity to make opening and closing comments.

The parties are expected to participate in the proceeding in a civil and respectful manner. The Chair reserves the right to remove any individual who impedes the Appeals and Hearing Committee hearing. A case may be recessed or continued at the Chair’s discretion. At the request of a hearing participant, the Chair will take appropriate action to maintain a safe environment for all participants in the hearing, including providing for the presence of a Public Safety officer at the site of the hearing.

Alternative testimony options that do not compromise the integrity of the hearing process may be requested by either the Complainant or the Respondent. Options that provide accommodations for individuals with a disability, remote participation where necessary, or a safe space for participation while not depriving the parties of their rights in the process may be requested and will be considered. The Procedural Coordinator, in consultation with the Chair, determines the appropriateness of these requests and assumes responsibility for these arrangements.

At the discretion of the Procedural Coordinator, in consultation with the Chair, all information shared at the hearing may be audio recorded for use by the Appeals and Hearing Committee only. The Appeals and Hearing Committee’s deliberations will not be otherwise audio recorded. The audio recording is the property of the College. It will ordinarily be preserved until the conclusion of the grievance process, including the appeals period, at which point it will be destroyed. The parties and Appeals and Hearing Committee hearing participants are not permitted to make video, audio, or other electronic, photographic, or digital recordings of any meetings, parts of the case file, or proceedings held pursuant to this policy, including the Appeals and Hearing Committee hearing. The Procedural Coordinator may make exceptions to this prohibition in limited circumstances if the Procedural Coordinator concludes, in the Procedural Coordinator’s sole discretion, that a recording is warranted, and upon written request of the party seeking the recording that explains the need for the recording.

The Procedural Coordinator will be responsible for keeping minutes of the hearing which will serve as the record.

(f) Appeals and Hearing Committee Determination. Following completion of the hearing, only Appeals and Hearing Committee members and the Procedural Coordinator may be present for the deliberation. The Appeals and Hearing Committee must use the preponderance of the evidence standard when determining whether a Respondent is responsible for Sexual and Gender-Based The Appeals and Hearing Committee members will decide by majority vote whether or not the Respondent is responsible for Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct. The Procedural Coordinator will have no vote.

(g) If the Appeals and Hearing Committee determines the Respondent is responsible for engaging in prohibited conduct, the Provost or a designee will determine the sanction(s) to be imposed. Pertinent records of previous disciplinary action may be used in determining an appropriate sanction. Sanctions may include but are not limited to the following: termination; probation; reprimand; warning; restitution; education/counseling; Order of No Contact; restriction from or loss of leadership opportunity or positions in activities.

(h) Within twenty-four (24) hours of the deliberation of the Appeals and Hearing Committee and the Provost’s determination on sanctions, the Procedural Coordinator will present the determination and sanctions to the Complainant and Respondent. The Procedural Coordinator will send written notice of the same to the Complainant and Respondent within five (5) business days.

(i) Appeals of Decisions. At the conclusion of the Appeals and Hearing Committee phase and the determination on sanctions, either party may file an The appeal process includes the steps outlined below.

Filing an Appeal. Within five (5) business days of receiving notice of the Appeals and Hearing Committee determination on responsibility and the Provost’s (or a designee) determination of sanctions, either the Complainant or the Respondent may appeal the decision by submitting to the Procedural Coordinator a letter stating why the party requesting the appeal believes the determination of responsibility and/or the sanctions were inappropriate.

Content for Appeal. A party may appeal only on the following grounds: (i) newly discovered material information that was not known to the appellant party and unavailable during the investigation and during the hearing and which likely would have changed the finding of responsibility or the sanction imposed had it been available; or (ii) substantial procedural error that materially prejudiced the appellant party.

The party submitting the appeal must set forth in detail the grounds for review and must attach all materials that the party wishes to have considered in the appeal process. The Procedural Coordinator will provide a copy of the appeal submitted by one party to the other party.

Appellate Officer. The President of the College or a designee will serve as Appellate Officer and will decide the merits of any appeal and in so doing, may consult with the investigator(s), the Appeals and Hearing Committee Members, and any other individual that the Appellate Officer deems appropriate.

The purpose of the appeal is not to rehear the case; rather, it is to determine if there is sufficient information presented to allow a reconsideration of the Appeals and Hearing Committee’s decision.

Enforcement of Appeals and Hearing Committee Decision. Any action assessed or recommended by the Appeals and Hearing Committee (and, by extension, the Provost) may be enforced, in whole or in part, pending the outcome of the appeal at the sole discretion of the Procedural Coordinator, including a removal or suspension.

Appeal Determinations. The Appellate Officer will review the appeal and render a decision usually within ten (10) business days.

The Appellate Officer may affirm all or part of the decision (which includes the sanction, as well as the determination of responsibility) or may refer the matter back to the investigator(s), the Appeals and Hearing Committee, or the Provost, for further consideration. If the matter is referred back to the investigator(s), the Appeals and Hearing Committee, or the Provost, the Appellate Officer will provide specific instructions with the referral. In the event of a referral, the Appellate Officer may mandate such further proceedings as the Appellate Officer deems appropriate under the circumstances, consistent with this Policy.

The decision of the Appellate Officer will be provided in writing and is final. The Procedural Coordinator will inform the parties simultaneously and in writing of the outcome of the appeal within five (5) business days of the Appellate Officer’s decision.

Back to top ^

IV. Additional Matters

Request for Delay of Proceedings. If the Complainant, the Respondent, or law enforcement agencies request that the College grievance proceeding be delayed because the conduct in question is also being addressed in a civil or criminal court, the College will review the request, but it retains the right to hear the case before, after, or during the same time as the civil or criminal case, and to implement appropriate action (including but not limited to interim Orders of No Contact, removal from campus, interim removals, or suspensions) to maintain the safety of the campus. The campus grievance process shall be confidential to the extent possible and as allowed by law and considerations of safety.

Duty of Honesty. All parties and witnesses are obligated to be completely honest during the course of the entire process set forth in this Policy. Any person who knowingly makes a false statement – either explicitly or by omission – in connection with any part of the process may be subject to separate College disciplinary action.

Duty of Cooperation. All parties and witnesses are obligated to cooperate with the Title IX Director and any persons charged with implementing this policy. Any person who knowingly interferes with the actions taken to implement the reporting, investigation, or resolution of matters under this policy may be subject to separate College disciplinary action.

Prohibitions. Neither party will be permitted to directly question or cross-examine the other party during the investigation. Moreover, the investigator(s) and/or the Appeals and Hearing Committee generally will not consider information related to either party’s character or sexual history outside of the conduct in question. However, where there is evidence of pattern of conduct similar in nature by the Respondent, either prior to or subsequent to the conduct in question, regardless of whether there has been a finding of responsibility, this information may be deemed relevant and probative to the investigators’ report and/or the Appeals and Hearing Committee’s determination of responsibility or sanction. In those instances, the Procedural Coordinator will determine whether the previous incident was substantially similar to the conduct cited in the report and/or indicates a pattern of behavior and substantial conformity with that pattern by the Respondent. The Procedural Coordinator may choose to provide this information to the investigator(s), with appropriate notice to the parties. Additionally, either party or an identified witness may seek to provide to the investigator(s) and/or the Appeals and Hearing Committee: (1) information concerning the prior relationship of the parties; or (2) information indicating that a person other than the Respondent is responsible for the misconduct alleged.  The investigator(s) and/or the Appeals and Hearing Committee will review any such information and determine if it is relevant and probative to the Investigators’ report and/or the Appeals and Hearing Committee’s determination of responsibility or sanction.  In no case will the fact of a current or previous consensual dating or sexual relationship between the parties imply consent to the reported conduct or preclude a finding of responsibility for Sexual and Gender-Based Misconduct.

Amnesty for Students Reporting Misconduct. The College encourages reporting under this policy and seeks to remove barriers to reporting. The College generally will not hold a student who reports conduct or is a witness during an investigation under this policy accountable for disciplinary violations of the College’s Community Standards prohibiting use of drugs or alcohol. Under limited circumstances, a person who reports conduct under this policy may be held accountable for his or her own misconduct if, in the College’s discretion, it is determined that the behavior placed the health and safety of any person at risk, or if it created a danger to the College community.  The College retains the right to require students to attend counseling or drug/alcohol related courses even in circumstances in which disciplinary conduct will not be pursued under this policy.

Respect for Privacy. The College values the privacy of individuals involved in the reporting, investigation, and/or resolution of matters subject to this policy. The U.S. Department of Education has provided guidance indicating that there are situations in which it may be necessary for an institution to override a request for privacy in order to meet its Title IX obligation. In the event circumstances result in the College overriding a request for privacy or confidentiality to meet its Title IX obligation, the College will do so with the utmost sensitivity and respect for the circumstances and the individuals involved.

The factors the U.S. Department of Education suggest institutions consider in determining whether it can grant a request for privacy include circumstances that suggest there is an increased risk of the alleged perpetrator committing additional acts of Sexual Violence or other violence (e.g., whether there have been other Sexual Violence complaints about the same alleged perpetrator, whether the alleged perpetrator has a history of arrests or records from a prior school indicating a history of violence, whether the alleged perpetrator threatened further Sexual Violence or other violence against the student or others, and whether the Sexual Violence was committed by multiple perpetrators), circumstances that suggest there is an increased risk of future acts of Sexual Violence under similar circumstances (e.g., whether the student’s report reveals a pattern of perpetration, whether the Sexual Violence was perpetrated with a weapon, the age of the student subjected to the Sexual Violence, and whether the school possesses other means to obtain relevant evidence (e.g., security cameras or personnel, physical evidence).

Special Situations. In limited circumstances, when the safety of the College community is at risk, if the material facts are undisputed, if there are extenuating circumstances involving either of the parties, or if the Title IX Director, in consultation with appropriate administrators, determines it is in the best interest of the College and/or the community, the College retains the right to determine, in its sole discretion, if it will address a report of conduct that falls under this Policy administratively and outside of the process described in this policy. Whenever the College determines that it will exercise this provision, its actions will be in accord with Title IX and it will stay true to the processes described in this policy to the extent possible. The College will also clearly explain to the parties any alternate processes it will take in the given situation.

Back to top ^