Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) strongly encourages persons who experience sexual harassment to report the misconduct and to seek assistance to pursue university action for their own protection and that of the entire campus community.
All allegations are acted upon promptly by CWRU once it has received notice or a formal complaint. Complaints can take 60-75 business days to resolve, typically. There are always exceptions and extenuating circumstances that can cause a resolution to take longer, but the university will avoid all undue delays within its control.
Any time the general time frames for resolution outlined in the university's procedures will be delayed, the university will provide written notice to the parties of the delay, the cause of the delay, and an estimate of the anticipated additional time that will be needed as a result of the delay.
The Office for Equity has five investigators. When possible, the investigators will review cases in pairs and meet with Complainant, Respondent and witnesses as a team. When necessary, the Title IX Coordinator will serve as an investigator but in most situations, the Title IX Coordinator will not be involved in the investigation process and will instead oversee the function of the office and when processes move towards resolution. The university reserves the right to use trained external investigators as a part of the process.
Notice of Report
Upon receipt of a complaint or notice to the Title IX Coordinator of an alleged violation of the Policy, The Office of Equity or designee initiates a prompt initial assessment to determine the next steps the Recipient needs to take.
The Title IX Coordinator or designee will initiate at least one of three responses:
- Offering supportive measures because the Complainant does not want to proceed formally; and/or
- An informal resolution upon submission of a formal complaint; and/or
- A Formal Grievance Process including an investigation and a hearing.
The investigation and grievance process will determine whether or not the Policy has been violated. If so, the University will promptly implement effective remedies designed to ensure that it is not deliberately indifferent to harassment or discrimination, their potential recurrence, or their effects.
When the university receives a formal complaint of a potential violation of the Sexual Harassment Policy, the university has the obligation to investigate. Investigations follow along the same general progression, however, depending on the situation, not all parts of every investigation occur in the same order. The Investigator(s) typically take(s) the following steps,
- Determine the identity and contact information of the Complainant
- In coordination with campus partners (e.g., the Title IX Coordinator), initiate or assist with any necessary supportive measures
- Identify all policies implicated by the alleged misconduct and notify the Complainant and Respondent of all of the specific policies implicated
- Assist the Title IX Coordinator with conducting a prompt initial assessment to determine if the allegations indicate a potential policy violation
- Commence a thorough, reliable, and impartial investigation by identifying issues and developing a strategic investigation plan, including a witness list, evidence list, intended investigation timeframe, and order of interviews for all witnesses and the parties
- Meet with the Complainant to finalize their interview/statement, if necessary
- Prepare the initial Notice of Investigation and Allegation (NOIA). The NOIA may be amended with any additional or dismissed allegations
- Notice should inform the parties of their right to have the assistance of an Advisor, who could be a member of the Pool or an Advisor of their choosing present for all meetings attended by the party
- Provide each interviewed party and witness an opportunity to review and verify the Investigator’s summary notes of the relevant evidence/testimony from their respective interviews and meetings
- Make good faith efforts to notify the parties of any meeting or interview involving the other party, in advance when possible
- When participation of a party is expected, provide that party with written notice of the date, time, and location of the meeting, as well as the expected participants and purpose
- Interview all available, relevant witnesses and conduct follow-up interviews as necessary
- Allow each party the opportunity to suggest witnesses and questions they wish the Investigator(s) to ask of the other party and witnesses, and document in the report which questions were asked, with a rationale for any changes or omissions.
- Complete the investigation promptly and without unreasonable deviation from the intended timeline
- Provide regular status updates to the parties throughout the investigation.
- Prior to the conclusion of the investigation, provide the parties and their respective Advisors (if so desired by the parties) with a list of witnesses whose information will be used to render a finding
- Write a comprehensive investigation report fully summarizing the investigation, all witness interviews, and addressing all relevant evidence. Appendices including relevant physical or documentary evidence will be included
- The Investigator(s) gather, assess, and synthesize evidence, but make no conclusions, engage in no policy analysis, and render no recommendations as part of their report
- Prior to the conclusion of the investigation, provide the parties and their respective Advisors (if so desired by the parties) a secured electronic or hard copy of the draft investigation report as well as an opportunity to inspect and review all of the evidence obtained as part of the investigation that is directly related to the reported misconduct, including evidence upon which the Recipient does not intend to rely in reaching a determination, for a ten (10) business day review and comment period so that each party may meaningfully respond to the evidence. The parties may elect to waive the full ten days. Each copy of the materials shared will be watermarked on each page with the role of the person receiving it (e.g., Complainant, Respondent, Complainant’s Advisor, Respondent’s Advisor).
- The Investigator(s) may elect to respond in writing in the investigation report to the parties’ submitted responses and/or to share the responses between the parties for additional responses
- The Investigator(s) will incorporate relevant elements of the parties’ written responses into the final investigation report, include any additional relevant evidence, make any necessary revisions, and finalize the report. The Investigator(s) should document all rationales for any changes made after the review and comment period
- The Investigator(s) shares the report with the Title IX Coordinator and/or legal counsel for their review and feedback
- The Investigator will incorporate any relevant feedback, and the final report is then shared with all parties and their Advisors through secure electronic transmission or hard copy at least ten (10) business days prior to a hearing. The parties are also provided with a file of any directly related evidence that was not included in the report
Collecting Information Relevant to the Case
Investigators will collect information relevant to the case provided by the complainant, respondent, and witnesses. Examples of information collection includes: screenshots, phone records, text messages, recordings, journal entries, emails and social media.
An informal resolution is an informal process by which a mutually agreed upon resolution of an allegation is reached. It can be used (1) When the parties agree to resolve the matter through an alternate resolution process, usually before a formal investigation takes place; (2) When the Respondent accepts responsibility for violating policy, and desires to accept a sanction and end the resolution process; or (3) when the Title IX Coordinator or designee can resolve the matter informally by providing supportive measures (only) to remedy the situation. The university will obtain voluntary, written confirmation that all parties wish to resolve the matter through Informal Resolution before proceeding and will not pressure the parties to participate in Informal Resolution. Any party participating in Informal Resolution can stop the process at any time and begin or resume the Formal Grievance Process.
Participants at the hearing will include the Chair, the additional panelists, the Investigator(s) who conducted the investigation, the parties (or three (3) organizational representatives when an organization is the Respondent), Advisors to the parties, any called witnesses, CWRU General Counsel may be present, and anyone providing authorized accommodations or assistive services. The Investigator(s) will then present a summary of the final investigation report. Once the Investigator(s) present their report and are questioned, the parties and witnesses may provide relevant information in turn, beginning with the Complainant, and then in the order determined by the Chair of the panel. In Process “A” the parties/witnesses will submit to questioning by the panel and then by the parties through their Advisors. In Process “B” the parties submit questions in writing to be read by the Chair. The Panel will deliberate in closed session to determine whether the Respondent is responsible or not responsible for the policy violation(s) in question and determine sanctions if found responsible. A simple majority vote is required to determine the finding.
In both Process “A” and Process “B” parties are able to ask questions of witnesses and each other. During Process “A” the party’s adviser will pose the proposed question orally. The proceeding will pause to allow the Chair to determine whether the question will be permitted, disallowed, or rephrased. If allowed, the chair will direct the other party or witness to answer the question. During Process “B” the party will submit questions in writing to the chair, who will then consider the question, and if allowed, will read the question to the other party or witness. The Chair will limit or disallow questions on the basis that they are irrelevant, unduly repetitious (and thus irrelevant), or abusive.