Sexual Misconduct and Assault Policy

Summary

This document outlines Rocky Mountain College’s policies and procedures regarding sexual misconduct and sexual assault.

Section Headings

  • Policy Statement
  • What is Sexual Misconduct?
  • What is Sexual Assault?
  • What is Consent?
  • Retaliation
  • Confidentiality of Information
  • Education and Prevention
  • Resources Following an Act of Misconduct or Sexual Assault
  • Policy Enforcement
  • Institutional Responses

Policy Statement

Sexual misconduct and sexual assault are unacceptable and will not be tolerated at Rocky Mountain College. The College urges an individual who has been subjected to sexual misconduct or sexual assault to make an official report. A report of the matter will be dealt with promptly. Confidentiality will be maintained to the extent possible. The College is committed to providing information regarding on- and off-campus services and resources to all parties involved. Students, faculty, and staff found to be in violation of this policy will be subject to discipline up to and including termination, expulsion, or other appropriate institutional sanctions; affiliates and program participants may be removed from College programs and/or prevented from returning to campus. 

What is Sexual Misconduct?

Sexual misconduct is the commission of an unwanted sexual act, whether by an acquaintance or by a stranger, that occurs without indication of consent.

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is the actual, attempted, or threatened unwanted sexual act, whether by an acquaintance or by a stranger, accomplished 1) without consent by means of force (express or implied), violence, duress, menace, fear, or fraud, or 2) when a person is incapacitated or unaware of the nature of the act, due to unconsciousness, and/or intoxicating substances.

What is Consent?

Consent is informed, freely given, and mutually understood. Consent requires an affirmative act or statement by each participant. If coercion, threats, and/or physical force are used, there is no consent. If a person is mentally or physically incapacitated or impaired so that the person cannot understand the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual situation, there is no consent; this includes conditions due to alcohol or drug consumption or being asleep or unconscious. Whether one has taken advantage of a position of influence over another may be a factor in determining consent.

Retaliation

It is a violation of College policy to retaliate against any person making a complaint of sexual misconduct or sexual assault or against any person cooperating in the investigation of (including testifying as a witness to) any allegation of sexual misconduct or sexual assault. For students, retaliation should be reported promptly to a student life dean or residence life administrator (RA, RD, Director). For faculty and staff, retaliation should be reported to the Human Resources Office.

Confidentiality of Information

The College will make reasonable and appropriate efforts to preserve an individual’s privacy and protect the confidentiality of information. However, because of laws relating to reporting and other state and federal laws, the College cannot guarantee confidentiality to those who report incidents of sexual violence except where those reports are privileged communications with those in legally protected roles (set forth below). The professional being consulted should, if possible, make these limits clear before any disclosure of facts. An individual can speak confidentially with certain individuals in legally protected roles. They include sexual assault counselors and clergy. Exceptions to maintaining confidentiality are set by law; for example, physicians and nurses who treat any physical sustained during a sexual assault are required to report it to law enforcement. Also, physicians, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists, teachers, and social workers must report a sexual assault committed against a person under age 18. Information shared with other individuals is not legally protected from being disclosed. Considerations with respect to a complainant’s request for confidentiality include factors such as the College’s ability to respond effectively, to prevent further harassment, or to ensure the safety of the College community. For example, a faculty advisor, the Associate Dean for Student Life, a residence director (RD), or a resident assistant (RA) may need to inform other individuals to protect their safety or rights, in fairness to the persons involved, or in response to legal requirements. As required by law, all disclosures to any College employee of an on-campus sexual assault must be reported for statistical purposes only (without personal identifiers) to the Rocky Mountain College Campus Safety Office, which has the responsibility for tabulating and annually publishing sexual assault and other crime statistics. Such reports are for statistical purposes and do not include individual identifiers. State law permits law enforcement authorities to keep confidential the identity of a person officially reporting a sexual assault. The Rocky Mountain College Campus Safety Office policy is to maintain such confidentiality. However, if the City Attorney files a criminal charge, confidentiality may not be maintained. If a complaint is filed through the Student Conduct system, then the accused student must be provided with the name of the alleged victim and witnesses, if applicable.

Education and Prevention

Resources – Rocky Mountain College provides resources for education about and prevention of sexual misconduct and assault. Students, faculty, and staff are urged to take advantage of on-campus prevention and educational resources (both College-supported and student-led) and are encouraged to participate actively in prevention and risk reduction efforts. The Campus Safety Office provides comprehensive and consistent response to incidents of sexual and relationship violence to the campus community.

The Associate Dean for Student Life provides case consultation to students and staff, case management for reported assaults, and information and referrals to services on and off campus. The office also assists with educational outreach and training to increase awareness, sensitivity, and community accountability in the prevention of these acts. The Human Resources Department provides training programs regarding sexual harassment for the campus community. Some programs are required for faculty, staff supervisors, instructors, and newly hired staff. Information is available by contacting the department at 406.657.1043. The Rocky Mountain College Office of Residence Life and the Campus Safety Office conduct educational programs and distributes educational literature to students, faculty, and staff.

Resources Following an Act of Sexual Misconduct or Sexual Assault

Whether a victim of sexual misconduct or sexual assault chooses to make an official report, he or she is urged to seek appropriate help. There are numerous resources for faculty, staff, students, and visitors to campus (see list below). Specific resources, either on or off campus, for medical treatment, legal evidence collection, obtaining information, support and counseling, and officially reporting a sexual misconduct or sexual assault are listed below. Each resource can assist a person to access the full range of services available.

Services Available 24 Hours a Day

For emergency medical and police services, call 911 (8-911 from on-campus phones). Individuals may also go to the nearest hospital emergency department (St. Vincent’s Hospital or Billings Clinic).

  • The YWCA Gateway House in Billings has a 24-hour telephone line at 406.259.8100.
  • Sexual Assault Services (formerly Rape Task Force), 406.259.8100.
  • Billings Community Crisis Center, 406.259.8800.
  • RMC students may contact an RA and request that the on-call residence director be contacted.

Medical Treatment

An individual who has been sexually assaulted is urged to seek appropriate medical evaluation as promptly as possible.

  1. For life-threatening conditions, call 911 (from an on-campus phone, call 8-911).
  2. For treatment of less serious injuries, students can use the Rocky Mountain College Health Center (406.657.1068), or, if closed, the nearest hospital emergency department (St. Vincent’s Hospital or Billings Clinic). Faculty and staff should consult their primary care physician.
  3. For evaluation and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy, as well as consultation for other health issues, students can use the Rocky Mountain College Health Center. Faculty and staff should consult their primary care physician.

Medical-Legal Evidence Collection

An individual who has been sexually assaulted is encouraged to request collection of medical-legal evidence. Prompt collection of physical evidence is essential should a person later decide to pursue criminal prosecution and/or a civil action (see 9.d., Legal Options).

Federal law provides for free medical-legal exams to victims of sexual assault. See the Violence Against Women Act of 2005 42 U.S.C. § 3796gg-4(d). For assistance in seeking such an exam, contact the YWCA (406.259.8100), Billings Police Department (406.657.8460). RMC community members are strongly urged to contact the YWCA as early as possible because it provides immediate support and advocacy and will coordinate services with other agencies if requested. The YWCA Sexual Violence Victims Services 24-hour telephone line is 406.259.8100. An individual seeking an exam is encouraged to request police escort to the St. Vincent’s or Billings Clinic Emergency Department.

Please note that St. Vincent’s and Billings Clinic are mandated assault reporters under state law and may have legal obligations to provide a report of an assault to a police agency.

Obtaining Information, Support, and Counseling

Whether one chooses to make an official report, an individual who has suffered an act of sexual misconduct or sexual assault is encouraged to obtain information, support, and counseling. Counselors at a variety of agencies, both on and off campus, can help that person decide what steps to take, such as seeking medical attention, preserving evidence, obtaining counseling, or reporting to authorities. Information, support, and advice are available (see resources below) for anyone in the RMC community who wishes to discuss issues related to sexual misconduct or sexual assault, whether sexual misconduct or sexual assault has actually occurred and whether the person seeking information has been assaulted, has been accused to sexual misconduct or sexual assault, or is a third party. The degree to which confidentiality can be protected depends upon the professional role of the person being consulted and should be addressed with that person before specific facts are disclosed, if possible (see section 6, Confidentiality of Information).

Students may consult:

  • YWCA Gateway House – 406.259.8100
  • Associate Dean of Student Life – 406.657.1099
  • Campus Counselor – 406.657.1049
  • RMC Health Center – 406.657.1068
  • Campus Chaplain – 406.657.1098
  • Campus Safety Office – 406.238.7293
  • Vice President of Student Life – 406.657.1018

Officially Reporting an Act of Sexual Misconduct or Sexual Assault

A member of the College community who has suffered an act of sexual misconduct or sexual assault is encouraged to make an official report as soon as possible, whether he/she intends at that time to seek criminal or civil redress or pursue internal disciplinary measures. Even when a victim of sexual misconduct or sexual assault is not willing to bring forward a disciplinary case, a victim may benefit from appropriate academic and housing accommodations from the College through the Associate Dean of Student Life, residence life staff, or the Campus Safety Office. 

For a sexual assault that occurs on campus, contact the residence life staff (RA, RD, Director of Housing) at 406.657.1051, the Associate Dean for Student Life at 406.657.1099, or the Campus Safety Office at 406.238.7293. 

For an off-campus incident, call the police, 911, or 406.657.8460. Rocky Mountain College students should contact the Office of the Associate Dean of Student Life at 406.657.1099 (if the assailant is an RMC student), the Dean of Student Life at 406.657.1018, or the Campus Safety Office at 406.238.7293. 

Faculty and staff should contact the Human Resources Office.

Policy Enforcement

This policy was authorized and approved by the President of Rocky Mountain College and is enforced under the authority of the Vice President of Student Life. In addition to institutional consequences, an individual who violates this policy may be subject to criminal prosecution and/or civil litigation. For all complaints of alleged sexual misconduct or sexual assault, regardless of what type the resolution the complainant wishes to pursue, the College may in its discretion undertake appropriate inquiry and take such prompt and effective action as is reasonably practicable under the circumstances to support and protect the complainant, including taking appropriate interim measures (such as removing or banning an alleged assailant from campus) before the final outcome of the investigation and/or hearing, if any.

Disciplinary and Other Administrative Actions for Students

An act of sexual misconduct or sexual assault is a violation of the Fundamental Standard governing student behavior. The process and procedures governing student disciplinary cases involving sexual misconduct and sexual assault are found on the Student Conduct website.

The Office of Student Life (406.657.1018) investigates all formal complains of student misconduct, including allegations of sexual misconduct and sexual assault, and files formal charges if the evidence supports the allegation. Sanctions, for students found responsible for such a violation, range from a formal warning to expulsion from the College. Mediation between parties is not available in cases of sexual assault or misconduct.

Rocky Mountain College processes guarantee that the rights of students, including those of the accused, are protected. The College will maintain the confidentiality of students involved in disciplinary cases; in situations involving an allegation of sexual misconduct and/or sexual assault; however, the reporting individual and the accused student may each choose to be accompanied by a person of his or her choice at all stages of the disciplinary process. Each student will be kept informed of the status of an investigation and its outcome. For more information, go to the Student Conduct website.

Disciplinary Action for Faculty and Staff

Violations of this policy are addressed according to applicable faculty and staff personnel policies. When violations are found, possible sanctions range from censure to dismissal from the College.

When Complainant Does Not Want to Pursue Resolution or Requests Confidentiality

If a complainant does not want to pursue a formal resolution or requests that the complaint be kept confidential, Title IX nevertheless requires the College to investigate and take reasonable action in response to the complainant’s information. The complainant will be informed that the College’s ability to respond may be limited if confidentiality is requested. The College may conduct a preliminary investigation into the alleged misconduct or assault and weigh the request for confidentiality against the following factors: the seriousness of the alleged misconduct, whether there have been other complaints against the same accused, and the accused’s right to receive information about the allegations.

Legal Options

In addition to College disciplinary actions, a person who engages in a sexual assault may be the subject of criminal prosecution and/or civil litigation. A police report must be made before a criminal prosecution can be considered by the City Attorney’s Office. The chance of successful prosecution is greater if the report to the police is timely and is supported by the collection of medical-legal evidence (see 8.c., Medical Legal Evidence Collection). Because the standards for finding a violation of criminal law are different from the standards for finding a violation of this policy, criminal investigations or reports are not determinative of whether sexual misconduct or sexual assault, for purposes of this policy, has occurred. In other words, conduct may constitute sexual misconduct under this policy even if law enforcement agencies lack sufficient evidence of a crime and therefore decline to prosecute. Moreover, the filing of a complaint of sexual misconduct or sexual assault with the College is independent of any criminal investigation or proceeding. The College will not wait for the conclusion of any criminal investigation to commence its own investigation and/or to take interim measures to protect the complainant and College community.

A person who wishes specific information about legal options should consult a private attorney or the YWCA Sexual Violence Victims Services Program at 406.259.8100.

Institutional Responses

Public Information

Requests for information concerning an incident of sexual misconduct or sexual assault should be directed to the Rocky Mountain College Marketing and Communication Department (406.657.1104) or the Rocky Mountain College Campus Safety Office (406.238.7293).

Public Notification of Incidents

As required by state and federal law, the Rocky Mountain College Campus Safety Office must collect and report annually statistical information concerning sexual assaults occurring on campus. To promote public safety,the Campus Safety Office also alerts the campus community to incidents and trends of immediate concern.

Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Assault Conduct Panel

General Policies

Sexual misconduct and sexual assault are unacceptable and will not be tolerated at Rocky Mountain College. The College urges an individual who has been subjected to sexual misconduct or sexual assault to make an official report. A report of the matter will be dealt with promptly. Confidentiality will be maintained to the extent possible. The College is committed to providing information regarding on- and off-campus services and resources to all parties involved. Students, faculty, and staff found to be in violation of this policy will be subject to discipline up to and including termination, expulsion, or other appropriate institutional sanctions; affiliates and program participants may be removed from College programs and/or prevented from returning to campus.

Sexual Misconduct

Sexual misconduct is the commission of an unwanted sexual act, whether by an acquaintance or by a stranger, that occurs without indication of consent.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is the actual, attempted, or threatened unwanted sexual act, whether by an acquaintance or by a stranger, accomplished 1) against a person’s will by means of force (express or implied), violence, duress, menace, fear, or fraud, or 2) when a person is incapacitated or unaware of the nature of the act, due to unconsciousness, sleep, and/or intoxicating substances.

All formal complaints alleging sexual misconduct and/or assault will be referred to the Conduct Panel for adjudication.

Any student who has a question or concern that he or she is being or has been a victim of sexual misconduct or sexual assault should contact the Vice President of Student Life (406.657.1018) or one of the liaisons listed below. The liaisons can assist in determining an appropriate response to an alleged incident.

Students may contact one of the following College community members if they have questions or concerns about sexual misconduct or assault:

  • Vice President of Student Life – 406.657.1018
  • Associate Dean of Student Life – 406.657.1099
  • Campus Counselor – 406.657.1049
  • Human Resources – 406.657.1043

Student Complaint Resolution Procedure

The following represents the procedure for resolving incidents where sexual misconduct and/or assault has been alleged.

Formal Complaint

  1. Students may bring formal complaints to the Vice President of Student Life (VPSL).
  2. The complainant may have another person present information at discussions of the complaint.
  3. After discussion with the Vice President of Student Life, an official investigative officer will be appointed to formally review the complaint. The complainant submits a signed petition describing the complaint and requesting a formal investigation. In some cases it may be appropriate for the designated officer to draft the petition. Additional investigative officers may be designated by the president of the College as needed (see item #7, Complaint Process).
  4. The petition will be shown to the accused person, who may then file a written response within five (5) working days.
  5. The proceedings described here are not those of a court of law and the participation of legal counsel is not permitted during these discussions.

Formal Complaint Process/Timeline

The timetable set forth below is approximate. The Vice President of Student Life, in consultation with the investigative officer may, at his or her discretion, allow additional time for any of the steps noted.

  1. Within three (3) working days of receiving the written complaint, the investigative officer will consult with the relevant parties, including the complainant and the accused, in order to ascertain the facts and views of both parties. 
  2. In order to protect the safety and welfare of both parties, it may be necessary to implement restrictions and/or behavioral expectations on individuals during the investigative and hearing process. Restrictions will be outlined to each party immediately following the initial consultations.
  3. When a formal complaint is received, the Vice President of Student Life will convene the Sexual Misconduct/Assault Panel – a five-person panel composed of two (2) students and three (3) members of the faculty and/or administrative staff. All members of the Conduct Panel have received formal adjudicatory training as well as training relative to the issues of sexual harassment, misconduct, and assault.
  4. Within 14 working days from the filing of the complaint the investigative officer will conduct an inquiry and prepare a report summarizing the relevant evidence. Note: hearsay evidence related by a witness that is not based on first-hand information will be identified as such.
  5. The report of the investigative officer will be sent to the complainant and to the accused by the Vice President of Student Life. Within five (5) working days thereafter, the complainant and the respondent may each submit a final statement to the Vice President of Student Life concerning the report.
  6. The Vice President of Student Life, in consultation with the Conduct Panel, may at any point dismiss a complaint if it is found to be clearly without merit. The complainant may appeal this determination to the Academic Vice President (AVP).
  7. Within five (5) working days after the submission of any final statements from the complainant and the accused, the Conduct Panel will decide whether a violation of this policy has occurred, and if so, what the consequences shall be. These may range from reprimand, suspension, or probation, to a recommendation of termination or expulsion. 

Conduct Panel Hearing Procedure

  1. The Vice President of Student Life will convene the Conduct Panel for a preliminary hearing and will present members with the investigative officer’s report, final statements, witness statements, physical evidence, and relevant reports.
  2. Panel members will review all materials in the preliminary hearing. Based on their review, the panel may elect to interview witnesses (including the investigative officer), request additional information, and/or interview the complainant and the accused (note: if the Panel elects to interview either party, both the complainant and the accused must be provided an opportunity to appear).
  3. A formal hearing will be scheduled at the Panel members’ earliest possible convenience. During the formal hearing, Panelists will consider the evidence, conduct interviews if applicable, and debate the merits of the complaint. 
  4. In accordance with federal law, the Sexual Misconduct/Assault Conduct Panel will use the “preponderance of the evidence” standard to adjudicate complaints.
  5. The Panel will make a final determination in the case and will draft a formal letter of notification. Upon approval of the letter, by the Panelists, both parties will be notified of the decision within two (2) business days.

Sanctions

Sanctions for sexual misconduct or sexual assault will be appropriate to the nature and severity of the offense and will be consistent with relevant College policy guidelines. Sanctions may include, but are not limited to, an oral reprimand, a written reprimand, a warning added to the accused person’s file, or the probation, suspension, or expulsion of a student. 

Protection of Rights

Both parties will be informed of the facts developed in the course of the investigation and will be promptly informed about the final outcome of the proceedings. To the extent reasonably possible, all proceedings will be conducted in a way calculated to protect the confidentiality interests of both parties. Moreover, all reasonable action will be taken to ensure that the complainant and those testifying on behalf of either party will suffer no retaliation as a result of their actions. In the event that the allegations are not substantiated, all reasonable steps will be taken to restore the accused if he or she may have been damaged by the proceedings. If a complainant is found to have been intentionally dishonest in making the allegations or to have made the allegations maliciously, the complainant is subject to institutional discipline.

Appeals Related to Sexual Misconduct and Assault

If the accused is found guilty of misconduct or assault, s/he may appeal the Panel’s decision by submitting a statement to the AVP within 10 working days stating, with specificity, the reasons for his or her dissatisfaction and the grounds for thinking the case deserves further hearing. Please note, appeals may be considered for a variety of reasons (new evidence, procedural error, sanction not in accord with the offense, etc.); however, the appellant’s disagreement with the Panel’s finding does not constitute grounds for an appeal. The AVP, within 30 days of submission of such a request, shall either affirm or overturn the decision. Appeals will be based upon the record made before the AVP and will not reconstitute a rehearing of the evidence. The person accused will be given the opportunity to present oral argument on such review provided, however, that nothing in the foregoing will be construed to prevent the reviewing committee in its discretion from hearing newly discovered evidence. The written response of the AVP will constitute the final determination of the complaint.

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