Procedures for the Resolution of Sexual Misconduct Complaints Involving Staff or Third Party Respondents
These procedures set forth Towson University’s (“University” or “TU”) administrative response to allegations or occurrences of Sexual Misconduct under the 06-01.60 – Policy on Sexual Misconduct (PDF) (“Policy”). Please refer to the Policy for all definitions. These Procedures provide for participation by both the Reporting Party and Responding Party to any incident of alleged Sexual Misconduct and also recognize their right to decline to participate in that process, including, without limitation, an Investigation.
Sexual Misconduct is an umbrella term that includes Dating Violence, Domestic Violence, Sexual Exploitation, Sexual Harassment, Sexual Intimidation, Sexual Violence, and Stalking. The University takes steps to prevent the occurrence of Sexual Misconduct, fairly investigate allegations of Policy violations, and remedy discriminatory effects that may occur. Information about University programs that can identify resources for victims as well as promote awareness and prevention of Sexual Misconduct are available at www.towson.edu/TitleIX .
The University must receive notice to respond effectively and prevent Sexual Misconduct in the University community. Please report or file a complaint of Sexual Misconduct against a Staff member, or Third Party in the following ways:
As described above, you may submit reports online, verbally or in writing. No particular method or format is required. Your report should include as much pertinent information as possible (e.g., the time and place of the incident, a complete description of what occurred, the identity or a description of the Responding Party (if known), the names of potential witnesses (if known), etc.). You may also report a Title IX violation anonymously. Such anonymous reporting may limit the University’s ability to address the alleged Policy violation, to prevent it reoccurrence or to reduce its effects.
Upon receipt of any report, the Title IX Coordinator will make an immediate assessment of the risk of harm to the parties or to the University community and will take steps necessary to address any risks. These steps may include working with other campus offices to facilitate Interim Measures designed to promote the safety of the parties and the University community.
The University recognizes that while Responsible Employees have a duty to report Title IX violations, an individual’s decision whether to report Sexual Misconduct and participate in an Investigation is a personal decision that may evolve over time. While prompt reporting is strongly encouraged, there is no time limit for reporting Sexual Misconduct. The Title IX Coordinator will coordinate with appropriate University departments and offices to provide support and assistance to each Reporting Party in making important decisions related to reports of Sexual Misconduct. Consistent with the goal of safety for all community members, the University works to respect a Reporting Party’s autonomy in making their own personal decisions after reporting Sexual Misconduct. While a complaint of Sexual Misconduct may be filed at any time; delay in reporting may limit the ability of OIIE to comprehensively investigate a complaint of Sexual Misconduct. When appropriate, the University, in consideration of the safety and wellbeing of the campus community, the University, through the OIIE, retains the right to initiate an Investigation on its own, independent of any individual’s decision or request about how they would prefer the University proceed.
The University encourages those in an emergency situation, including when they have experienced or witnessed Sexual Misconduct, to call 911. A person who has experienced or witnessed Sexual Misconduct may also choose to make a report to the University to pursue resolution under these Procedures or make a report. Contact Towson University Police (“TUPD”) at (410) 704-4444 or other local law enforcement.
In appropriate circumstances, the Title IX Coordinator can assist someone with the notification process. A Reporting Party/person who reports to law enforcement is strongly encouraged to also report to the University/Title IX Coordinator. This allows the University to pursue appropriate and timely action. Please do not assume that law enforcement will necessarily notify University officials. Reporting to police and/or pursing criminal charges are separate and distinct processes. The University’s process is not a law enforcement proceeding or civil or criminal legal proceeding.
In certain situations, the University may determine that public safety concerns require it to investigate alleged Sexual Misconduct even if either the Reporting Party or Responding Party chooses not to participate in the Investigation. Before making this decision, the University will act in good faith to assess the relevant circumstances. The University will communicate its decision to conduct an Investigation to both parties.
As described in the Policy, a Confidential Employee is (1) any employee who is a licensed medical, clinical, or mental-health professional (i.e., physicians, nurses, physicians’ assistants, psychologists, psychiatrists, professional counselors, and social workers (and those performing services under their supervision) (“Health Care Providers”)) or pastoral care providers acting in their professional role in the provision of services; (2) any employee providing administrative, operational and/or related support for such Health Care Providers in their performance of such services or providing individual intake, advocacy, and referrals to clinical and counseling services; and (3) any individual acting in an approved confidential role as so designated by the Title IX Coordinator. Confidential Employees are not required to report any information regarding an incident of sexual misconduct to the Title IX Coordinator.
Confidential Employees should inform Reporting Parties of their right to file a report or complaint with the University and/or a separate complaint with campus or local law enforcement. They typically identify campus resources for counseling, medical, or professional support. Confidential Employees may assist with filing such reports or complaints. They can also explain that the Policy protects against retaliation and the University works to respond appropriately to it and prevent its recurrence.
Throughout the process, the Title IX Coordinator or designee, Investigator(s), and other University representatives will communicate and correspond directly with the parties, not a Support Person or attorney. The Parties are responsible for ensuring that Support Persons act consistent with the definition of a Support Person in the Policy. Parties are also responsible for making sure appropriate authorization exists (e.g., authorization related to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”)) for the University to communicate the non-party participation requirements below to any Support Person.
Both the Reporting Party and Responding Party may participate or decline to participate in the process. The Title IX Coordinator and relevant University staff determine whether a response to a report of Sexual Misconduct, including, without limitation, an Investigation, will proceed without the participation by one or both parties. Lack of participation by a party does not preclude a finding of responsibility for a Policy violation or the imposition of disciplinary action.
Throughout the process described below, a party may choose one (1) Support Person to accompany them (at their own expense) to meeting(s) or event(s) related to an Investigation and resolution of a complaint. The Policy defines the role and responsibilities of a Support Person.
Someone acting as a Support Person should understand their role and responsibilities. This includes reviewing and adhering to the Policy. While providing emotional support to a party, a Support Person must act with decorum, keep confidential matters private, not speak on behalf of the party, and follow reasonable requests related to the process.
Witnesses are individuals who have factual information about an alleged violation of Policy. The University expects them to provide true and accurate information. Anyone can be a witness if they have relevant information. Witnesses should understand that some evidence may not be deemed relevant to an alleged Policy violation and therefore excluded from consideration.
The University strives to resolve complaints of Sexual Misconduct within a reasonable period of time. The University should document circumstances which impact its ability to complete an investigation or issue a decision.
Upon receipt of a report or complaint, OIIE will ensure that the Reporting Party is provided with a copy of the Policy, informed of their rights and responsibilities, and given the opportunity to participate in an Intake Meeting with the Title IX Coordinator or designee to discuss available options and resources.
Upon receipt of a report or complaint of Sexual Misconduct, the Title IX Coordinator or designee will conduct an initial review of the reported information. The review should allow for a determination of whether the reported conduct constitutes a potential violation of the Policy, further action is warranted based on the reported conduct, and the University has jurisdiction over the parties.
Factors considered during an initial review include, but are not limited to:
At the conclusion of the initial review and, if applicable, the Intake Meeting, the Title IX Coordinator or designee will identify the appropriate next steps, including but not limited to, a determination that:
This determination will be shared with the Reporting Party. As appropriate, the Title IX Coordinator and relevant University staff and administration will determine whether the response to a report, including, without limitation, an Investigation, will proceed regardless of the participation by one or both parties. A lack of participation by a party does not necessarily preclude a finding of a Policy violation or the imposition of appropriate disciplinary action.
During the Intake Meeting, the Title IX Coordinator or designee will provide information about the Policy and these Student Procedures. The Title IX Coordinator or designee will also review the Reporting Party’s rights and responsibilities associated with the process, including:
Based on the available information, the Title IX Coordinator will assess the Reporting Party’s immediate safety and well-being and make appropriate referrals (e.g., to medical care, mental health counseling, etc.). The Reporting Party will receive information about community and campus resources and services. Interim Measures that are appropriate can be discussed and arranged. They will also have an opportunity to ask questions and seek additional information.
While the University cannot force a Reporting Party to meet with the Title IX Coordinator for an Intake Meeting, such a meeting enables the University to conduct a thorough initial review, described above, of the report/complaint and take appropriate action. Where a student does not wish to meet with the Title IX Coordinator or designee, the University will proceed with assessing the report and determining whether additional action is necessary regardless of participation from the Reporting Party.
A Reporting Party may request that their name or other information be kept private and not disclosed to alleged perpetrators or that no Investigation or disciplinary action be pursued to address the Sexual Misconduct, particularly in cases of Sexual Violence. The University evaluates such requests for privacy in light of its responsibility to provide a safe and secure environment.
While Anonymous Complaints are considered and the University respects privacy considerations, there are situations in which the University must override a request for privacy in order to meet its obligations. The University also must necessarily weigh the safety of the University Community and other factors, as noted above, in determining whether to proceed with an Investigation.
The University will maintain a confidential record of reports of Sexual Misconduct and related evidence, documents, records, and information pertaining to the investigation and resolution of the complaints. The records will be maintained in accordance with applicable policies, procedures and legal requirements. Records may be subpoenaed by law enforcement authorities as part of a parallel investigation into the same conduct, or required to be produced through other compulsory legal process.
The University’s ability to fully investigate and respond to a complaint may be limited if the Reporting Party requests that their name not be disclosed to the Responding Party or declines to participate in an Investigation. If a Reporting Party requests their name or other identifiable information not be disclosed and/or that no further action be taken, the Title IX Coordinator will seek to honor such requests, balancing the Reporting Party’s wishes for privacy with the University’s obligation to provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment for all members of the University community.
Upon receiving a report of Sexual Misconduct, the Title IX Coordinator may impose
Interim Measures to protect the University Community. After an initial report of Sexual
Misconduct, OIIE shall, as appropriate, offer and implement reasonable Interim Measures.
Interim Measures are reasonable actions offered on a case-by-case basis designed to
support and meet the needs of the individuals involved relative to the specific allegations
of Sexual Misconduct in order to ensure their safety so that they may continue to
access their education and/or workplace. Interim
Measures may be provided even if a Reporting Party does not ultimately file a complaint resulting in an Investigation.
If a Reporting Party does not file a complaint and Interim Measures are instituted, the time period during which the Interim Measures are provided shall be determined on a case-by-case basis within the discretion of OIIE.
The University applies Interim Measures as appropriate to ensure an individual’s safety and well- being, as well as their ability to participate in campus academic and employment activities.
Interim measures are not intended to be punitive nor are they intended to be permanent resolutions.
The Title IX Coordinator manages and oversees the provision of Interim Measures on behalf of the University. The University will take appropriate, responsive, and prompt action to enforce Interim Measures and to respond to any reports about the inadequacy or failure of another Towson University community member to abide by the Interim Measures. Interim Measures may be withdrawn or amended.
OIIE conducts an initial review of the report to determine whether (i) the University has jurisdiction over the alleged misconduct and/or Responding Party and (ii) the alleged misconduct may constitute a violation of the Policy. If the University has jurisdiction and the misconduct may constitute a violation, OIIE may conduct an Investigation.
An Investigation is an impartial, fact-gathering process. It is intended to provide the parties an opportunity to share their perspectives and identify information they believe relevant to the allegations. The Investigator interviews the parties and/or witnesses separately. They also gather physical evidence, such as documents, communications (including correspondence, email, text messages, social media, or other digital information), recordings (including audio and video), and other records, as appropriate and available.
Information related to the prior sexual history of either party is generally not relevant to the determination of a Policy violation. Accordingly, the University will not use an individual’s sexual history for purposes of illustrating their character or reputation. However, prior sexual history between the parties may be relevant in very limited circumstances. For example, where there was a prior or ongoing consensual relationship between the parties and where Consent is at issue, evidence as to the parties’ prior sexual history may be relevant to assess the manner and nature of communications between the parties and whether Consent occurred. The Investigator will determine the relevance of prior sexual history and inform the parties if information about the parties’ prior sexual history is deemed relevant.
At OIIE’s discretion, multiple reports may be consolidated in one investigation if the information related to each incident is relevant in reaching a determination. Matters may be consolidated where they involve multiple Reporting Parties, multiple Responding Parties, or related conduct involving the same parties, provided that it does not delay the prompt investigation and resolution of complaints.
At or near the conclusion of the Investigation, the Investigator will draft a written
investigation report summarizing the information gathered (e.g., the “who, what, when,
and where”). This report will also synthesize the areas of agreement and disagreement
between the parties, witnesses,
And/or other evidence.
Each party receives a reasonable opportunity to review and respond to the Preliminary Investigative Report. Upon receipt of notice to review the Preliminary Investigative Report, a party has three (3) business days to schedule an appointment to review that document. Except in extraordinary circumstances, the parties should provide their comments, additional information (including new evidence), and/or questions (about witnesses, evidence, etc.) to the Investigator within three (3) business days after their appointment. Evidence not submitted at this time may not be considered.
After receiving input from the parties regarding the Preliminary Investigative Report, the Investigators will create a Final Investigative Report. The parties may request an opportunity to review this document at OIIE.
The University treats all reports of Sexual Misconduct seriously and strives to respond to them in a thorough, prompt and impartial matter. The process described above in Sections I-V applies equally to all reports of Sexual Misconduct against staff and third parties which may include but is not limited to vendors, volunteers, contractors, visitors and other third parties who are not otherwise affiliated with the Towson University campus community.
However, for complaints of Sexual Misconduct against Third Parties, a term that includes visitors, contract employees, and other individuals not affiliated with the campus community, the University is limited with regard to its ability to conduct a thorough investigation. Moreover, while the University can restrict individuals from University property as a sanction for misconduct with a Denial of Access letter and can take action to limit future contracts with Responding Parties found in violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy, it cannot otherwise impose disciplinary sanctions on a Third Party or compel a Third Party to participate in an administrative Investigation.
Despite these limitations, the University duly responds to reports of Sexual Misconduct against a Third Party by referring Reporting Parties to community and campus resources, offering remedial and protective Interim Measures, and taking steps to ensure the continued safety of the campus community and learning environment.
Where the Investigator finds that a Responding Party who is a staff member has violated the Policy, the finding will be shared with the Office of Human Resources for consideration for disciplinary action. Once the Office of Human Resources receives notification from OIIE of a finding of a violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy, the Office of Human Resources may issue sanctions consistent with the University and/or USM policies, procedures, or guidelines applicable to disciplinary action for University staff. Sanctions are determined on a case-by-case basis and issued commensurate with the nature of the policy violation as well as the nature of the staff member’s employment relationship with the University (e.g., contingent or non-contingent).
As appropriate, upon completion of an Investigation and, if applicable, issuance of sanctions, the Title IX Coordinator, in consultation with appropriate University departments, will identify reasonable short-term and/or long-term remedies to address the effects of the conduct on the Reporting Party, prevent its reoccurrence, restore the Reporting Party’s safety and well-being, and address the effects of this conduct in the educational workplace.
Both parties have the right to appeal OIIE’s finding. Such appeals are heard consistent with these Procedures and other applicable policies and procedures governing faculty discipline for serious misconduct. The decision of the Vice President of OIIE made on appeal is final.
In addition, a staff member may appeal the imposition of sanctions. Such appeals are heard consistent with appropriate University and/or USM policies related to staff grievances. Please contact OHR with questions regarding staff appeals/grievances.
A party may appeal an investigator’s finding of responsibility for a violation of Policy on the following grounds:
A party must submit their appeal in writing within five (5) business days of the finding. Failure to appeal within the allotted time will render the original decision final and conclusive.
If an appeal is received by one party, the other party will be notified of the appeal submitted, will be able to review the written appeal and any supporting documentation submitted by the other party, and will have an opportunity to submit a written response to the appeal within five (5) business days of the notification of the receipt of an appeal.
All requests for appeals must be submitted in writing to OIIE (for appeals of a finding) or OHR (for appeals of a disciplinary action).
Office of Inclusion and Institutional Equity
8000 York Road, AD 214
Towson, MD 21252
Office of Human Resources
8000 York Road, AD 101
Towson, MD 21252
(410) 704-2603 (fax)
The appeal must specifically state the basis for appeal (listed above, Section IX (A)) and include supporting documentation or information explaining the basis for appeal. The person appealing should address the central issue of the appeal directly, as irrelevant information will not be considered. If the appeal is a response to the other party’s appeal, the appeal should act as a response, either in support or in opposition, to the central issues of the other party’s appeal.
Upon receipt of a request for an appeal of an investigatory finding or disciplinary action resulting from complaints against staff members, the Office of Human Resources will be notified and the matter will be reviewed consistent with applicable policies based upon the classification of the particular staff member. The imposition of disciplinary action will not be deferred during the appeal process unless the appellant presents a compelling reason to the Office of Human Resources or designee.
Decisions regarding appeals are typically made within fifteen (15) business days after receipt of all necessary documentation. The Responding Party (and the Reporting Party, where permitted by law) will receive the decision of the appeal in writing. All appellate decisions are final.
Staff may grieve disciplinary action in accordance with the rights afforded to them based on their specific employment status. Filing an appeal of the finding under these Procedures is not the same as grieving disciplinary action. The review and appeal processes under these Staff Procedures are separate from any grievance rights.
After all appeal process has concluded (or when the time for an appeal has passed
with no appeal submitted, whichever is later), the Office of Human Resources will
promptly notify the Reporting and Responding Parties, in writing, of the final outcome
of the Sexual Misconduct complaint.
The Office of Human Resources will also notify the Title IX Coordinator of the Final Outcome.
OIIE will maintain records of all reports/complaints, initial reviews, Interim Measures, Investigations, Notices of Findings, and Appeals under the Policy. The Office of Human Resources will maintain disciplinary records for all cases that result in a finding of a Policy violation. All records are maintained consistent with University policy and state and federal law regarding student records retention.
After a finding and imposition of disciplinary action (if any), the Title IX Coordinator may periodically contact the Reporting Party to determine whether additional remedies are necessary. The Reporting Party may decline future contact at any time. Any violation by a Responding Party of a disciplinary action, Interim Measure and/or remedy imposed under the Policy and these Procedures should be reported to OHR and/or the Title IX Coordinator.
The Reporting and Responding Party are encouraged to provide the Title IX Coordinator with feedback about their experience with the process and recommendations regarding ways to improve.