Sexual Assault Complaint Procedure
It is the policy of the Order of Saint Benedict, Inc., Collegeville, and the College of Saint Benedict to investigate and promptly seek the equitable resolution of allegations of sexual assault in violation of the Joint Sexual Assault Policy.
The Joint Complaint Procedure for Sexual Assault Violations Involving Students shall be the exclusive process for handling sexual assault complaints where the respondent is a student from College of Saint Benedict, Saint John's University (undergraduate or graduate), or Saint John's Preparatory School, and supersedes all other student disciplinary processes. Except as noted below, the procedure shall be available to all members of the institutional communities either as individuals or as groups. For the purposes of this procedure the term "complainant" shall refer to the person who alleges that he or she has been a victim of sexual assault, and the term "respondent" shall refer to the person alleged to have violated the Joint Sexual Assault Policy.
Where the respondent is a member of the faculty, the administrative staff or the support staff of these institutions, the Joint Complaint Procedure for Human Rights Violations shall be the exclusive process for handling the Sexual Assault Complaint.
The Human Rights Officer will be responsible for the implementation of this Procedure and in performing that responsibility will function as a neutral party.
It is the Policy of the College of Saint Benedict and the Order of Saint Benedict, Inc., Collegeville, to investigate and promptly seek the equitable resolution of allegations of sexual assault in violation of the Joint Sexual Assault Policy.
This procedure shall be the exclusive process for handling Sexual Assault Complaints where the respondent is a student from the College of Saint Benedict, Saint John's University (undergraduate or graduate), or Saint John's Preparatory School, and supersedes all other student disciplinary processes. Except as noted below, the Procedure shall be available to all members of the institutional communities either as individuals or as groups. For the purposes of this procedure the term "Complainant" shall refer to the person who alleges that he or she has been a victim of sexual assault, and the term "Respondent" shall refer to the person alleged to have violated the Joint Sexual Assault Policy.
Where the respondent is a member of the faculty, the administrative staff, or the support staff of these institutions, the Joint Complaint Procedure for Human Rights Violations shall be the exclusive process for handling the Sexual Assault Complaint.
The following constitutes the steps which make up the complaint process. All complaints will be heard and determined as described below. If at any time during the process a party does not reply or otherwise will not participate, the Human Rights Officer may move the process to the next step, dismiss the complaint, or take whatever other steps may be necessary to ensure the integrity of the process.
Ordinarily, complaints under this procedure will be brought by people who feel that their rights have been violated. Nevertheless, extraordinary circumstances may arise in which a complaint may be initiated in the name of the institution(s) in order to protect the safety, integrity and welfare of the community as a whole.
Silence in response to an allegation on the part of the respondent will not be viewed as an admission of the allegation, but may leave the complainant's allegations undisputed.
All parties involved in a complaint procedure are entitled to be treated with dignity and to receive nonjudgmental support from their institution while engaged in this process. Spiritual direction and personal counseling services are available to all parties upon request.
This Procedure reflects the desire of the institutions to respond to complaints in a manner that promotes fairness to all parties and will be followed as faithfully as possible. The institutions recognize, however, that each case is unique in its presentation and requires that the institutions reserve some flexibility in responding to the particular circumstances of each case.
The resolution of these cases will be accomplished as expeditiously as possible. To that end, this Procedure recites time frames for administrative action. Every attempt will be made to satisfy the requirements of these time frames. Where the Procedure indicates that an action will be completed within a specified period of days, "day" means regular business/school days. Adjustments to the time frames will be made when school breaks, holidays, or other exigent circumstances require.
Complainants are encouraged to begin the complaint process as soon as possible following an alleged assault. If a complaint is brought forward more than three (3) calendar years after an alleged incident, the institution, in its discretion, may decline to process a complaint under this procedure.
The steps of the complaint process are as follows:
Step 1. Initiation of Complaint.
This complaint process may be initiated by any member of the community by obtaining a complaint form from the Human Rights Officer and submitting a signed, completed complaint form to the Human Rights Officer. The complaint form must state sufficient facts, including the specific name(s), date(s), location(s) and description of the alleged act(s) of misconduct, in sufficient detail to enable the Human Rights Officer to make a determination as to whether further fact-finding is necessary and if sufficient evidence exists to proceed with the complaint process.
Step 2. Investigation.
Following the submission of the complaint form, a preliminary investigation will be conducted by campus authorities (See Joint Sexual Assault Policy for definition of campus authorities). Campus authorities may interview the complainant, respondent and/or other witnesses or request additional information from the complainant, respondent or others. A written summary of the preliminary investigation and all witness statements or relevant documents will be provided to the Human Rights Officer. Every attempt will be made to complete the investigation process within ten (10) days of the filing of the complaint.
Step 3. Determination of Options for Resolution.
Upon completion of the preliminary investigation, the Human Rights Officer will meet with the Director(s) of Residential Life, and/or the Director of Student Life, and/or other appropriate administrative officers of the institutions of the parties involved in the complaint, to review the facts of the complaint, and to make an initial assessment regarding the options available for resolution of the complaint. Based on this review, the case will be referred for resolution in one of the following ways:
If it is determined that there is not a sufficient basis to believe that a violation of the Joint Sexual Assault Policy has occurred, the parties will be notified of that determination and the complainant will be informed of other more appropriate procedures for resolving the complaint.
b. Recommendation for Resolution.
If it is determined that there is a sufficient basis to believe that a violation may have occurred, and that, if proven, the allegations presented would not normally result in the suspension or expulsion of the respondent, the parties to the case may be offered an administrative recommendation for resolution of the complaint.
The recommended resolution may include a variety of institutional responses or requirements, such as the following: reprimand, behavioral contracts, administrative referrals, community service hours, restitution, required attendance at educational programs, required assessment or counseling, mediation at the victim's request, restriction of privileges, parental notification and/or probation.
If all parties to the complaint agree in writing to the terms and conditions of the recommended resolution, the case will be resolved without further process under this procedure.
If the parties to the complaint do not agree to have the case resolved based upon the administrative recommendation, or if there is a sufficient basis to believe that, if proven, the allegations presented would likely result in the suspension or expulsion of the respondent, the case shall be referred to an ad hoc committee for a hearing as described below beginning with STEP 4.
Every attempt will be made to complete Step 3 within five (5) days of the completion of the preliminary investigation.
Step 4. Ad Hoc Committee Hearing.
Cases referred to an ad hoc committee for a hearing generally are cases which were unable to be resolved based upon an administrative recommendation, or involve allegations for which a finding of a violation of the policy could result in suspension or expulsion from the institution. If a student violates the terms of a disciplinary outcome from an agreed upon administrative recommendation, such violations may also be referred to an ad hoc hearing committee for review.
Cases ordinarily referred to an ad hoc committee for a hearing may be heard and determined by an administrative hearing when extraordinary circumstances such as breaks or other vacation periods would prevent a timely hearing by the committee, or when appearance before the ad hoc committee poses a threat to the welfare of committee members or witnesses.
a. Selection of Committee Members.
The ad hoc committee will generally be chaired by the appropriate hearing officer(s) from each of the institution(s) of the parties to the complaint. The committee will also include three (3) advisory members including two students, and one faculty, staff or administrative employee. In a hearing involving Preparatory School students, the committee will be chaired by the Dean of Students and will include two (2) advisory members from the faculty or staff of the Preparatory School. All committee members will be appointed on a case-by-case basis by the appropriate vice presidential level officer(s) from the institution(s) of the parties. Advisory committee members will generally be selected from the Human Rights Hearing Panel established each year pursuant to the Joint Complaint Procedure for Human Rights Violations.
The Human Rights Officer will also be present at the ad hoc committee hearing as a non-voting observer and will, if necessary, answer procedural questions. The Human Rights Officer will be responsible for training committee members and advisors with regard to their duties.
Saint John's University
Dean of Campus Life
College of Saint Benedict
Dean of Students
Saint John's Preparatory School
Dean of Students
School of Theology
Director of Student Life
The institutions reserve the right to appoint other administrative officers as hearing officers when necessary. When an employee of the Liturgical Press or the Benedictine Division are involved in this process, the appropriate hearing officer will be appointed on a case-by-case basis.
Vice Presidential Level Officers:
Saint John's University
Vice President of Student Development
College of Saint Benedict
Vice President of Student Development
Saint John's Preparatory School
School of Theology
When an employee of the Liturgical Press or the Benedictine Division are involved in this process, the appropriate vice-presidential level officer will be appointed on a case-by-case basis.
b. Pre-Hearing Procedures.
Every attempt will be made to commence the ad hoc committee process no later than fifteen (15) days following the filing of the complaint.
Following the appointment of the ad hoc committee, the investigation file will be made available to the committee members as well as to the parties and their designated advisors. The file will be available by appointment with the Human Rights Officer during regular business hours and cannot be copied or removed from the Human Rights Office or other location provided for review purposes without the express authorization of the chair(s) of the committee.
The chair(s) of the committee will schedule the hearing and send a written notice of hearing to the parties no less than five (5) days prior to the date set for the hearing. The notice of hearing will include the date, time, location and nature of the hearing, and the names of the committee members selected to hear the case.
The parties will be afforded the opportunity to meet with the Human Rights Officer to discuss the hearing process prior to the hearing.
At least two (2) days prior to the hearing, the respondent will provide to the chair(s) of the ad hoc committee any written documentation to be presented by the respondent, the names of any witnesses the respondent believes should be called by the committee at the hearing, and a summary of the factual information such witnesses may provide.
Whether or not a witness is called is a decision which remains within the discretion of the committee. The committee chair(s) will call those witnesses whom the committee believes can provide information which will be helpful to the committee and probative of the issues presented by the complaint. The committee may decide not to call a witness if the information to be provided by that witness is immaterial, irrelevant, unduly repetitious, or otherwise not helpful to the committee.
The complainant or respondent may request the removal of a member of the ad hoc committee on the grounds of personal bias by submitting a written statement to the appropriate vice presidential level officer(s) of the institution of the parties, setting forth the basis for the challenge, at least two (2) days prior to the hearing. The vice presidential level officers will determine whether or not to accept or deny the challenge. If the request is accepted, a replacement will be appointed to serve on the hearing committee.
c. Purpose of the Hearing.
The purpose of the hearing committee is to formulate a decision as to whether it is more likely than not that a violation of the Joint Sexual Assault Policy occurred, and if so, to determine appropriate sanction(s).
In order to preserve the confidential nature of the process, and to protect the privacy of all parties, hearings will be closed.
Each ad hoc committee will be chaired by the administrative hearing officer(s) who will preside at the hearing and will rule upon procedural matters. Formal rules of evidence will not apply, although objections to the introduction of specific statements or documents may be considered by the chair(s), who will have the power to decide or to consult with committee members, prior to making a decision. Irrelevant, immaterial or unduly repetitious information may be excluded by the chair(s).
The hearing will be audio tape recorded by the Human Rights Officer. Copies of the tape(s) may be reviewed by the parties involved in the complaint, in a manner prescribed by the chair(s) of the committee, by making a request to the Human Rights Officer following the conclusion of the hearing.
d. Presentation of the Case.
The manner of presentation of the complaint to the committee will be as follows:
- The complainant will be called to meet with the committee to provide a principal statement and to respond to the questions of the committee;
- The respondent will be called to meet with the committee to provide a principal statement and to respond to the questions of the committee;
- Other material witnesses will be called individually to meet with the committee and to provide statements and to respond to the questions of the committee;
- The complainant and respondent will be given the opportunity to review the principal statements and responses in a format designated by the committee. The complainant and the respondent may then request an opportunity to appear before the committee to make any additional statement they feel is necessary;
- The committee may call additional witnesses or recall the parties and/or any witnesses for further questioning before closing the hearing.
e. Hearing Panel Deliberations and Recommendations.
Only the members of the hearing committee and the Human Rights Officer may be present during deliberations.
A simple majority of votes is necessary to find that a violation of the Joint Sexual Assault Policy more likely than not occurred and to determine appropriate sanction(s).
Within three (3) days of the close of the hearing, the committee will render its decision and will communicate the decision in writing to the parties and to the appropriate vice presidential level officers of the institutions of the parties. The decision of the committee will take the form of findings of fact, conclusions, and appropriate sanctions if a violation is found to have occurred. The notice of the decision will also inform the parties of their right to an appeal as set forth at Step 5 below.
In the event that no appeal is filed within the time periods prescribed below, the decision of the hearing committee will be final.
Step 5. Appeal from Ad Hoc Committee Hearing.
Following the outcome of the committee decision, the complainant or respondent may request an appeal of the decision. The request for an appeal must be submitted in writing to the appropriate vice presidential level officer of the institution of the appealing party within three (3) days of the date of notification of the decision from the ad hoc hearing committee. Failure to file an appeal or request an extension in a timely manner constitutes a waiver of any right to an appeal.
Generally, the basis for an appeal will be limited to the following:
- The sanction is excessively severe or grossly inadequate;
- New or newly discovered evidence is of a character which may substantially affect the outcome of the hearing;
- There was a procedural error which substantially affected the outcome of the hearing.
Appeals should not be requested frivolously. An appeal conference is not a re-hearing; it represents a procedural safeguard for the parties. In an appeal the burden of proof is shifted to the appealing party to show that it is more likely than not that one or more of the above grounds for appeal has merit.
The appeal request will be reviewed and considered by an appeal panel consisting of the appropriate vice presidential level officers of the institutions of the parties involved in the complaint. If there is adequate reason to believe that one or more grounds for appeal has merit, an appeal conference may be scheduled between the appealing party and the appeal panel. The appeal panel, in appropriate circumstances, may remand the case back to the hearing committee for further consideration or comment. In the event that new evidence is relevant to the outcome of the decision, the appeal panel may request a rehearing by the original hearing committee.
The appeal panel will render a decision and notify the parties to the complaint in writing of the decision within ten (10) days of the filing of the appeal. The appeal decision will be final.
Right to an Advisor. A student involved in a disciplinary proceeding as a complainant or a respondent has the right to an advisor of their own choosing from one of the communities. The advisor may be a faculty member, administrator, staff member or student. The role of the advisor is to advise and assist the student during the course of a disciplinary proceeding. The advisor may accompany the student to all meetings relating to the disciplinary proceedings. The advisor may not appear in lieu of the student or speak on his or her behalf. The advisor may not address the hearing officer or the ad hoc committee, and may not interrupt or otherwise delay the proceedings. Violations of confidentiality or other forms of interference with the disciplinary proceedings by the advisor may result in the immediate disqualification of an advisor and the student may be required to proceed without the privilege of an advisor.
Interference With Disciplinary Proceedings. Students will be subject to hearing and sanctions for interfering with disciplinary proceedings in any manner including, but not limited to the following:
- Falsification, distortion or misrepresentation of information before a hearing officer or ad hoc committee;
- Knowingly instituting a complaint without cause;
- Harassment and/or intimidation of any member of an ad hoc committee, or of any complainant, respondent, witness, or employee involved in a disciplinary proceeding before, during or after a proceeding;
- Breaching the confidentiality requirements of the Joint Sexual Assault Policy before, during or after a disciplinary proceeding.
Interim Restrictions or Suspension. At any time following the initiation of a complaint proceeding, the Director of Residential or Student Life of the institution of a party to a complaint proceeding, may impose various conditions or behavioral requirements on a party pending resolution of the complaint proceedings. The Director may also alter or suspend the rights of a student to be present on campus, to attend classes, or to participate in extracurricular activities or events pending resolution of the complaint proceedings. The Director will base his/her decision on whether the allegations of misconduct are apparently reliable and whether the continued unrestricted status of the student on the campus poses a threat to the physical or emotional condition or well-being of any individual, including the student, or for reasons relating to the safety, integrity and welfare of the community as a whole.
The interim restrictions, behavioral requirements, and/or alteration or suspension of privileges will be communicated to the student in writing and will remain in effect until a final decision has been made in the complaint proceedings, or until modified or withdrawn in writing.
Suspension. Suspension means the temporary separation of the student from the institution. Students suspended from the institution may not be present on the premises of the College of St. Benedict, St. John's University, or St. John's Preparatory School at any time for any reason.
When a hearing process results in a recommendation of suspension, the suspension will be effective immediately upon notice to the student, notwithstanding the filing of an appeal, unless otherwise indicated in writing by the appropriate Vice President, Principal, or Dean, of the institution of the respondent.
Expulsion. Expulsion means the permanent separation of the student from the institution. Students expelled from the institution may not be present on the premises of the College of St. Benedict, St. John's University, or St. John's Preparatory School at any time for any reason.
When a hearing process results in a recommendation of expulsion, the expulsion will be effective immediately upon notice to the student, notwithstanding the filing of an appeal, unless otherwise indicated in writing by the appropriate Vice President, Principal, or Dean, of the institution of the respondent.
For information regarding the Sexual Assault Complaint and Disciplinary Procedures, contact Jody Terhaar, CSB Dean of Students, (320) 363-5601; Mike Connolly, SJU Dean of Students, (320) 363-3171; or Judy Bednar, faculty/staff human rights officer, (320) 363-5071.