Overview of Student Sexual Misconduct Process

This high-level summary of the student sexual misconduct process is provided for your convenience and does not provide complete details. This is not the official policy. For more detailed information, please view the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy and Procedures or contact the Title IX Team.

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Report, Preliminary Inquiry, and Accommodations

Luther College receives a report when a responsible employee learns of an incident of sexual misconduct on our campus or involving Luther students. In response to every report, Luther conducts a preliminary inquiry to identify the parties involved and ascertain the misconduct being alleged. This inquiry typically takes the form of a conversation with the victim, and is usually completed without informing the alleged assailant or other students of the report.

Upon receipt of the report, Luther College offers victims a wide range of support services, including no contact orders, academic assistance, housing accommodations, confidential counseling, and more.

Finally, we must determine the appropriate next steps. We are generally able to allow the victim to decide if and when to initiate the student conduct process. However, where there is a clear threat to campus safety Luther may be required to proceed with the student conduct process without the participation of the victim.

Janet Hunter typically works with students during this stage of the process, consulting with Bob Harri and Matt Bills as necessary. 

Complaint and Investigation

A report becomes a complaint when the victim decides to initiate the student misconduct process. An investigation does not seek to determine what happened or assess credibility, but simply focuses on gathering evidence.

A typical investigation includes:

  • Interview with and written statement from the complainant
  • Interview with and written statement from the respondent
  • Interviews with witnesses
  • Evidence supplied by the parties (photos, messages, etc.)
  • Other evidence (security camera footage, key card access, location photos, etc.)
  • External reports (medical, police, etc.)

Bob Harri and Janet Hunter usually handle investigations as a team. Matt Bills monitors progress, consults with the investigators, and communicates with the parties as necessary. 

Review

Both parties are notified upon conclusion of the investigation and asked to meet with the chair of the Luther College Hearing Board to discuss hearing rules and procedures. The Hearing Board chair drafts an official charge letter identifying the issues for the hearing. In preparation for the hearing, parties will typically each meet several times with the chairperson, and during this phase each party:

  • May review all investigation materials and object to any irrelevant or prejudicial statements
  • May submit a clarifying statement in response to those materials
  • May suggest witnesses to testify at the hearing
  • May review a list of potential Hearing Board members and object to any who may have a conflict of interest
  • Receives notice of the hearing date, time, and location

Kasey Nikkel works with students during this phase of the process, consulting with Matt Bills and the investigators as necessary.

Hearing

The hearing is conducted by the chair, supported by a Hearing Board composed of students, faculty, and staff. All hearings are recorded. The hearing is set up so that the parties cannot see each other. Direct questioning of the parties is not allowed; the board members ask all questions, and each party may write down questions to ask of the other party. A typical hearing might follow this structure:

  1. Introductions and hearing procedures
  2. Opening statement by the complainant
  3. Opening statement by the respondent
  4. Questions for the complainant and respondent
  5. Break
  6. Witness statements and questions
  7. Questions for the complainant and respondent
  8. Break
  9. Questions for the complainant and respondent
  10. Closing statement by the complainant
  11. Closing statement by the respondent
  12. Conclusion

At the conclusion of the hearing both parties are released and the Board remains to conduct deliberations. First, the Board must determine by the preponderance of the evidence standard whether the respondent is responsible for each charge enumerated in the charge letter. Once the findings are determined, the Board proceeds to determine an appropriate sanction for the respondent.

Both parties receive notice of the hearing outcome in simultaneous meetings, typically the morning after the hearing.

Kasey Nikkel currently serves as the chairperson of the Luther College Hearing Board, and she consults with Matt Bills as necessary.

Appeal

Both parties are entitled to file appeals if they are dissatisfied with either the findings or the sanctions. However, valid grounds for appeal are limited to:

  • Whether the hearing was conducted fairly
  • Whether the decision was based on substantial information
  • Whether the sanctions imposed were appropriate
  • Consider new information not known to the appellant at the time of the hearing

Written appeals, along with hearing materials and recordings, are reviewed by the Luther College Appeals Board, which consists of Corey Landstrom, a representative of the Faculty Interests Committee, and the president of the Student Senate. The Appeals Board does not meet with the parties.

Other Considerations and Ongoing Support

In every meeting with Luther College, both parties are entitled to have an advisor of their choice. That advisor may be a student, faculty, family member, attorney, or other outside advisor. However, that advisor is not permitted to speak in the hearing.

Luther College has a strict non-retaliation policy and does not tolerate retaliation against anyone who brings a complaint or otherwise participates in an investigation or hearing related to sexual misconduct allegations.

The formal student conduct process, including all steps from complaint through notice of hearing result, is typically completed in two months or less. However, delays can occur when evidence is difficult to obtain, there are many witnesses to interview, or the College is on break between semesters. We make every effort to resolve complaints in a timely manner and inform both parties of any delays.

The conclusion of the formal student conduct process does not signal the end of the accommodations provided to the victim. Our goal is to do everything we can to allow victims to fully participate in the academic and extracurricular life of the College.

Legal System

Luther College encourages victims to file reports with local police and to press charges if warranted. However, the decision of whether to do that rests entirely with the victim. If the victim does decide to work with local law enforcement, Luther College will invite law enforcement officers to our official interview with the victim, so as to minimize the number of times the victim needs to recall the incident.

Once initiated, the legal process and the on-campus conduct process function separately.