Overview of Sexual Harassment Process

This high-level summary of the sexual harassment grievance 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 Luther College Policy and Procedures or contact the Title IX Team.

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Sexual Harassment Process Overview (PDF)
Alternative Resolution Between the Investigation and Hearing (PDF)

Report, Preliminary Inquiry, and Supportive Measures

Luther College receives a report of an incident of sexual harassment on our campus or involving members of our Luther community. 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 Complainant and is usually completed without informing the alleged Respondent or other parties involved of the report.

Upon receipt of the report, Luther College offers Complainants a wide range of support services, including no contact directives, academic assistance, housing accommodations, confidential counseling, referrals for medical attention, and more.

Finally, the College must determine the appropriate next steps. Generally, the College is able to allow the Complainant to decide if and when to initiate the grievance process. However, where there is a clear threat to campus safety Luther may be required to proceed with the formal process despite the wishes of the Complainant.

Janet Hunter works collaboratively with Kasey Nikkel during this stage of the process, consulting with Bob Harri as necessary.

Formal Complaint and Investigation

A report becomes a complaint when the Complainant filed/signed a document filed/signed alleging sexual harassment against a Respondent and for the College to initiate the grievance process.Once the decision to commence a formal investigation is made, the Title IX Coordinator appoints two investigators to conduct the investigation.

The Title IX Coordinator will provide written notice of the investigation and allegations (the ‚ÄúNOIA‚ÄĚ) to the Respondent upon commencement of the Formal Grievance Process.

All investigations are thorough, reliable, impartial, prompt, and fair. Investigations involve interviews with all relevant parties and witnesses, and obtaining available relevant evidence, both inculpatory and exculpatory.
All parties have a full and fair opportunity, through the investigation process, to suggest witnesses and questions, to provide evidence, and to fully review and respond to all evidence on the record.

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.)

Review and Respond

Prior to the completion of the investigation report, the Complainant and Respondent and, unless directed otherwise by the respective parties, their advisor, will be provided the opportunity to inspect all evidence directly related to the allegations of the formal complaint.

Complainant and Respondent will be given at least ten (10) days to inspect and review the evidence collected during the College’s investigation and to submit a written response the Investigator(s) will consider in preparing a final investigation report.The final investigation report will summarize the information and include any documents gathered.

Bob Harri, Kris Franzen, and Jake Dyer usually handle investigations as a team. Kasey Nikkel monitors progress, consults with the investigators, and communicates with the parties as necessary.

Hearing

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:

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 can see and hear  each other whether in person or virtually. Submission to cross-examination of the parties and relevant witnesses is required. Additionally, the board members will ask questions to parties and witness(es). 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. Submission to cross-examination for parties (questioning by advisor)
  6. Break
  7. Witness statements and questions
  8. Submission of witness(es) to cross-examination (questioning by advisor)
  9. Questions for the complainant and respondent
  10. Break
  11. Questions for the complainant and respondent
  12. Closing statement by the complainant
  13. Closing statement by the respondent
  14. 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, if necessary, 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.

Nan Hibbs currently serves as a chairperson of the Luther College Hearing Board, and she consults with Kasey Nikkel 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:

  • Due to conflict of interest or bias that may affect the outcome
  • Due to procedural irregularity that may affect the outcome
  • Whether the sanctions imposed were appropriate
  • Consider new information not known to the appellant at the time of the hearing that may affect the outcome

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, advisors are required for cross-examination.

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 harassment allegations.

The formal grievance 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.The College makes every effort to resolve complaints in a timely manner and inform both parties of any delays.

The conclusion of the formal grievance process does not signal the end of the support provided to the parties.  Students’ wellbeing, safety, and ability to thrive at Luther are of utmost importance to us beyond our federal compliance.

Luther College encourages Complainants to file reports with local police and to press charges if warranted. However, the decision of whether to do that rests entirely with the Complainant. If the victim does decide to work with local law enforcement, Luther College will invite law enforcement officers in the investigation process 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.

Sexual Harassment Process Overview (PDF)
Alternative Resolution Between the Investigation and Hearing (PDF)