Best Practices in Student Sexual Assault Investigations

May 2012 | 0 Comments  Average 3 out of 5

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Note: On April 29, 2014, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a set of frequently asked questions intended to give educational institutions further guidance on responding to, and addressing and preventing sexual violence. Members should consult the April 29 document, for the most recent information on meeting their obligations under Title IX and OCR’s April 2011 Dear Colleague Letter.

Student sexual assault investigations that don’t meet legal standards are resulting in costly claims. Ensuring Title IX compliance is the best way to minimize risk. According to the 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, investigations must be:

  • Prompt
  • Thorough
  • Impartial

The recommended investigation model is a separate pre-hearing investigation by a trained investigator who understands the type of evidence needed to sustain or disprove an assault allegation. When conducting interviews, investigators should follow these best practices:

  • Explain the interview process to everyone interviewed
  • Exercise patience and let information flow as freely as possible
  • Avoid cynicism and sarcasm, never demonstrating disrespect for the individual

Read this Risk Research Bulletin for more information on special considerations when interviewing the accused and completing and documenting the investigation.

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