FAQ's for the Respondents (Accused)Title IX
Information for Respondents/The Accused
If you are a student at Golden West College or any college within the district and you have been accused of sexual harassment, sexual violence or other gender-based harassment it is important that you read the following information. Although not intended to be a comprehensive explanation of your options and rights, this information may be useful to you.
Sexual harassment, sexual violence and other gender-based harassment occurring in the college setting implicates a federal law called Title IX of the Higher Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities and which triggers certain responsibilities on the part of the college. The College’s Title IX Coordinator is the Vice President, Student Life and Administrative Services, Janet Houlihan, who can be contacted at (714) 895-8307.
The College and the District is committed to maintaining a positive learning and working environment. The College will not tolerate acts of sexual harassment or sexual violence or related retaliation against or by any employee or student. When sexual harassment or sexual violence has occurred and is brought to the attention of a responsible administrator, steps will be taken to end the harassment or violence, prevent its reoccurrence, and address its effects.
Within the College’s processes, the person making the allegations is referred to as the Complainant. The person who the allegations have been made against is referred to as the Respondent. A complainant who wishes to report sexual harassment, sexual violence or other gender-based harassment may report their complaint directly to the Student Health Center, Campus Safety, the Title IX Coordinator, or other campus officials. A complainant may also report directly to law enforcement. A complainant may pursue both the campus process through the Title IX Coordinator and the criminal process simultaneously. In addition, students may file a Title IX complaint with the Office for Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education. The Title IX Coordinator has authority to address complaints of sexual harassment and sexual violence in a non-criminal context. This campus process is completely separate from the police and courts.
The campus Title IX Coordinator will review the allegations and determine an appropriate course of action. Some cases can be handled informally and outside of the formal investigative process. For cases that result in an investigation, those investigations are conducted by individuals who have received specialized training in those types of investigations. All investigations will be conducted in a thorough and neutral manner.
When the college becomes aware of sexual misconduct, the college may have an obligation to proceed with an investigation, regardless of a complainant’s wishes, in order to ensure campus safety.
In the college’s process, the complainant and respondent will not be permitted to directly question each other and are not required to be present together at any point. Both a complainant and a respondent have the right to identify witnesses and provide other information relevant to the investigation. The college will decide the case based on a preponderance of the evidence standard (whether or not it is more likely than not that the conduct occurred).
In most cases, the college will not wait until a criminal case is resolved before proceeding with the case. In addition, if a college official has a reasonable belief that a crime has been committed, she or he may be obligated to report that to law enforcement if police have not already been notified. In cases where a police investigation has been conducted or is being conducted, law enforcement may be able to provide some information to the Title IX Coordinator with the victim’s consent. The college’s fact-finding investigation may be delayed for a short period of time upon a request from law enforcement, but will be resumed as soon as possible. Most sexual violence or sexual harassment investigations conducted through the Title IX Office takes up to 60 days to be resolved, depending on the complexity of the case and the number of parties involved. The college will keep a complainant advised as to the status of the case as the complainant desires and as is reasonable. The complainant will be informed of the outcome of the case in writing.
Because the school’s primary concern is student safety, minor alcohol and drug violations by a complainant may be handled informally. If a complainant is under drinking age and reports a sexual assault incident where alcohol and drugs were used, the complainant will not get in trouble. The use of alcohol or other drugs never makes the victim at fault for sexual violence. An individual accused of sexual misconduct does not avoid or mitigate responsibility because she/he was under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
The college will take interim steps to protect a complainant and respondent while the case is pending. Depending on the case and the complainant’s wishes, these steps may include class moves, ordering a respondent to not have contact with the complainant, excluding a respondent from parts of campus, or providing an escort to accompany the complainant on campus. Any adjustments made will be designed to minimize the burden on the complainant’s educational program. Some of these actions may also be remedies in those cases resulting in a finding of a policy violation.
The College and District prohibits retaliation in any way against an individual or group because the individual or group has reported an allegation of sexual harassment or sexual violence or has participated in a grievance proceeding in response to such an allegation. The College and District recognizes retaliation can take many forms, may be committed by an individual or group against an individual or group, and that a respondent can also be the subject of retaliation. The District will take prompt and responsive action to any report of retaliation and may pursue disciplinary or other action as appropriate. Be mindful of your actions and behavior and avoid all direct and indirect contact with the complainant until the matter is resolved.
College employees must refer reports of sexual harassment, sexual violence, or other gender-based harassment to the Title IX Office. The only exception to the obligation to report applies to some employees working in the Student Health Center.
What do I do if I am accused of sexual violence and/or sexual misconduct?
DO NOT contact the victim (complainant). You may want to speak with someone in the campus community who can act as your support person. Your Title IX Coordinator can explain the college’s grievance procedures for addressing sexual misconduct complaints. You may also want to seek confidential counseling through the Health Center’s Psychological Services or seek support through off campu s services in the community.
What about legal advice?
Respondents may want to retain legal counsel given the potential for criminal and/or civil action.
What if, anything will my parents be told?
The college’s primary relationship is to you, the student, and not to your parent/guardian. College officials will only speak with your parents/guardians at your request or when there is a significant threat to your health or safety.
Can I be charged with something on campus and off campus?
Yes, complainants have the right to pursue both campus resolution of a complaint as well as civil and/or criminal resolution. It is up to the complainant to decide how they want to proceed. The colleges’ processes will move forward regardless if there is criminal or civil legal action taken regarding the same incident.