Sexual Misconduct Formal Investigation Process
The university's formal investigation process for sexual misconduct reports is an administrative process that determines whether, by a preponderance of the evidence, a member of the university community (student, staff, or faculty) has violated interim USU Policy 339, 339A, or 339B. This process is separate from the criminal process. The preponderance of the evidence standard means a policy violation is more likely than not to have occurred.
More information about the formal investigation process is available in interim USU Policies 339, 339A, and 339B. The previous policies related to sexual misconduct are applicable to conduct alleged to have occurred August 14, 2020 or later per 34 CFRR 106 (2020). They are subject to change at any time. Information about how the university will respond to sexual misconduct incidents that occurred prior to August 14, 2020 is available in procedures for responding to pre-08142020 allegations.
Overview of the Formal Investigation Process
A formal investigation is the information and evidence-gathering process that begins when a claimant signs a formal complaint stating they want to proceed with a formal investigation and ends when the investigation report is issued.
During formal investigations, both parties and witnesses are interviewed by an Office of Equity investigator, provide relevant evidence, and participate in a hearing.
If the individual who is alleged to have committed the sexual misconduct is found to have violated university policy, appropriate sanctions are implemented.
Requesting a Formal Investigation
You can request a formal investigation if you have experienced sexual misconduct and meet all of the following elements:
- You are a USU student, employee, or are participating in a university educational program or activity
- The individual who is alleged to have committed the sexual misconduct is connected to USU (i.e. as a student or employee)
- The incident either occurred
- In a university educational program or activity or
- Off-campus and there are continuing adverse effects or the creation of a hostile environment in an employment or education program or activity
Before participating in the formal investigation process, you will need to sign a formal complaint. This is a document that states you experienced sexual misconduct and are requesting that the university investigate the allegation(s) of sexual misconduct.
You will need to schedule an intake with an Office of Equity supportive measures specialist to begin the formal investigation process.
- If you are located at the Logan, Blanding, or Statewide campuses, you will need to schedule an intake with Rachel Bernardo.
- If you are located at the Eastern campus, you will need to schedule an intake with Katie Freeman.
During the formal investigation process, you can participate in an interview, provide witnesses, and submit documentation/evidence to an Office of Equity investigator. The individual who allegedly committed the sexual misconduct can also participate in an interview, provide witnesses, and submit documentation/evidence.
Both parties will then be able to review all the evidence collected during the investigation and provide a written response.
After the written responses are submitted, the investigator will give both parties the preliminary investigation report. The parties can then submit a written response to the preliminary investigation report. The investigator will then issue the final investigation report.
A live hearing will be held where a three-person panel will hear all of the parties and witnesses' testimonies and review the evidence collected. They will also review information related to a possible sanction.
The hearing panel will issue a determination that states whether the individual violated USU policy and, if so, the appropriate sanction for the individual who committed the sexual misconduct.
There can be a range of sanctions, depending on the nature of the incident. The sanction may include mandatory training, a written warning, probation, suspension, cancellation of a scholarship(s), or expulsion.
The determination letter issued by the hearing panel will also state the remedies for the individual who experienced the sexual misconduct.
Both parties have the right to appeal, based on certain criteria.
The hearing panel's decision is final if it is not appealed. If the decision is appealed, an appeal panel will review the information and determine whether to uphold the hearing panel's decision, reverse the decision, or remand the case to the hearing panel to gather more information.
At the end of the appeal process, the decision is final and the sanctions and remedies will be implemented.
Formal Investigation Timeframes
These are general timeframes and any of them may be extended based on good cause.
- Within 3 business days of receipt of the signed Formal Complaint, the Office of Equity will provide the parties a written Notice of Allegations.
- Within 20 business days of the filing of the Formal Complaint, the Office of Equity will give the parties access to the Record.
- Within 10 business days of receiving access to the Record, parties may file a written Response to the Record. This is also the close of the Record. Evidence and witnesses discoverable through reasonable due diligence not submitted before this time shall be inadmissible in the investigation and the hearing.
- Within 10 business days of the end of the Response to the Record period, the investigator will issue the Preliminary Investigation Report to both parties.
- Within 10 business days of the date of the Preliminary Investigation Report, the parties:
- Shall file:
- a statement listing the numbered paragraphs in the Preliminary Investigation Report that they agree are true, and the numbered paragraphs that they dispute;
- a list of witnesses and exhibits in the Record they want the Hearing Panel to consider during the hearing;
- a list of questions they propose to ask the other party, witnesses, and investigator in the hearing;
- a notice of intent to include a process advisor of their choosing in the hearing (and the name of that person) or a request for the University to appoint a process advisor on their behalf; and
- May file a written Response to the Preliminary Investigation Report.
- Shall file:
- Within 10 business days of the deadline for the responses to the Preliminary Investigation Report, the investigator will issue the Final Investigation Report.
- Within 2 business days of the Final Investigation Report, the investigator will notify the hearing officer that a hearing is needed.
- At least 15 days prior to the hearing, the hearing officer will appoint a process advisor for any party who does not have one.
- At least 15 days prior to the hearing, the hearing officer will provide the parties with a notice of hearing.
- Within 25 business days of the issuance of the Final Investigation Report, the hearing will be held.
- Within 5 business days of the hearing, the hearing panel will issue a preliminary findings letter outlining the policy violations the hearing panel has found the respondent to have committed, if any.
- If there is a finding, within 5 business days of the preliminary finding letter, parties may submit a sanction statement.
- Within 7 business days of the end of the sanction statement period, the sanctioning authority shall issue a sanction letter to the hearing panel.
- Within 10 business days of the preliminary finding letter, the Title IX Coordinator shall issue a remedies letter to the hearing panel.
- Within 20 business days of the hearing, the hearing officer will issue the Determination, Sanction, and Remedies.
- Within 10 business days of the Determination and Sanction, the parties may appeal.
- Within 5 business days of appeal, the hearing officer shall notify the non-appealing party of the appeal and both parties of the appellate panel assigned.
- Within 10 business days of being notified of the appeal, the non-appealing party may file a Response to Appeal.
- Within 25 business days of the date the appeal is filed, the appellate panel shall issue an appeal decision.