Information regarding Sanctions in Sexual Misconduct Cases

Last updated January 2021

Section XI(4) of the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and section X(4) of the University Sexual Misconduct policy state as follows regarding sanctions:  “Sanctions will take into account the seriousness of the misconduct as compared to like cases in the past, the respondent’s previous disciplinary history (if any), and institutional principles.”  This document is intended to provide additional information regarding how sanctions are determined by the University after a Hearing Panel has determined, using the preponderance of the evidence standard, that the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and/or the University Sexual Misconduct policy have been violated.[1]  The first section provides information regarding how appropriate sanctions are determined; the second section provides examples of the types of sanctions that have been issued in prior cases. 

Determining Disciplinary Sanctions

In determining an appropriate sanction, the most important consideration is the relative seriousness of the infraction.  Consideration is given to the specific standards of conduct that were violated and the impact of the respondent’s actions on the individuals personally affected, the University community, and the University’s principles.  Precedent cases inform the decision and are normally determinative, as the fair and equitable application of sanctions for similar conduct is essential to preserving the actual and perceived fairness of our disciplinary system.  Although each case is unique, the University’s annual Sexual Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct disciplinary reports provide information regarding outcomes for prior cases.  A respondent’s previous disciplinary record (a violation of any sort) is taken into account when considering a sanction for the current violation.

If a respondent is found responsible for multiple violations, this will be reflected in the sanction (for example, if a student respondent is found responsible for two different violations that each independently carry 12 months of disciplinary probation, the total sanction would be 24 months of disciplinary probation).

​​​​​​​Range of Disciplinary Sanctions

The detailed range of sanctions for respondents can be found in Appendix C of the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and Appendix C of the University Sexual Misconduct policy.
Sanctions for students range from Dean’s Warning and reprimand (which are rarely used in sexual misconduct cases; to disciplinary probation (which can range from three to 48 months); to suspension (either one or two years);[2] to expulsion.  In addition, the following may accompany these sanctions:  censure,[3] campus service, restriction of access to space, resources, activities, and University housing.  In addition to the sanctions described in this section, in situations in which respondents continue to be members of the University community (e.g., probation or suspension cases), respondents are required to complete the Community Integrity Program (“CIP”).  CIP is a time-limited, individualized psychoeducational curriculum administered by a clinical psychologist.  It serves to assist individuals in exploring harmful attitudes and behaviors, with an aim to empower individuals to actively contribute to a healthier and safer campus community.

Sanctions for faculty and staff members can include counseling or training, written warning, financial sanction, unpaid leave of absence, suspension, demotion or termination in accordance with the employment policies governing the specific employee.

Examples of Disciplinary Sanctions[4]

The information is this section is derived from cases that were investigated and adjudicated under the Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct Policy over a five-year time period (between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2019).[5]  Over this time period, the Office of Gender Equity and Title IX Administration investigated and adjudicated 113 formal complainants, in which respondents were found responsible for violating University policy in 78 cases (69% of cases).[6]  During this time period, 19 students were separated from the University (six expulsions, 11 suspensions, and two withheld degrees), and eight employees were terminated.

This document references less than a quarter of the 113 cases that were formally investigated and adjudicated over the past five years, and is intended to demonstrate the variety of situations that may fall under particular categories of infractions and the range of circumstances that may lead to different outcomes.  As described above, multiple factors influence the determination of an appropriate disciplinary sanction, and each case is considered individually, based on its own specific fact pattern and context.  While intended to be informative, this section has inherent limitations, in that the privacy of the individuals involved must be protected, which necessarily limits the detail that can be provided regarding each particular case.[7]  Therefore, this section does not fully convey the variety and complexity of circumstances associated with cases that may appear similar in the brief narrative descriptions.

Non-Consensual Sexual Penetration[8]

  • Student respondent was expelled for non-consensually engaging in sexual intercourse with student complainant when complainant was incapacitated. 
  • Student respondent was expelled for entering student complainant’s room without permission while complainant was sleeping, and non-consensually digitally penetrating complainant’s vagina. 
  • Student respondent was suspended for two years for engaging in non-consensual sexual intercourse with student complainant after complainant indicated that they did not want to engage in further sexual activity. 
  • Student respondent was suspended for two years for engaging in non-consensual sexual intercourse with complainant while complainant was asleep in their shared bed.

 

Non-Consensual Sexual Contact[9]

  • Student respondent was suspended for one year for non-consensually touching student complainant’s breasts and vaginal area (over clothing) and making racial slurs. 
  • Student respondent was suspended for one year for non-consensually kissing student complainant and non-consensually touching complainant’s breasts (under clothing) and vaginal area (over clothing). 
  • Student respondent was placed on disciplinary probation for 24 months for non-consensually “grinding” their pelvic area (over clothing) against student complainant for an extended period of time. 
  • Student respondent was placed on disciplinary probation for nine months for non-consensually kissing student complainant’s neck. 

 

Sexual Exploitation[10]

  • Student respondent was suspended for one year for taking unauthorized photo of student complainant’s genitals. 
  • Student respondent was placed on disciplinary probation for 24 months for sending unauthorized photo of other students engaged in sexual activity in a public setting to a large student listserv. 

 

Sexual Harassment[11]

  • Student respondent was placed on disciplinary probation for 18 months for repeatedly expressing unwelcome romantic interest to student complainant in a workplace setting, unreasonably interfering with complainant’s educational environment.
  • Employee’s employment was terminated for engaging in multiple instances of unwelcome verbal and physical conduct toward student complainant, unreasonably interfering with complainant’s educational environment. 
  • Employee’s employment was terminated for regularly and repeatedly making unwelcome sexual comments to employee complainant in the workplace, unreasonably interfering with complainant’s educational environment. 

 

Inappropriate Conduct Related to Sex, Gender Identity, or Gender Expression[12]

  • Student respondent’s degree was withheld for 18 months for entering student complainant’s room without permission while complainant was sleeping and non-consensually removing complainant’s bedcovers and reaching for their genitals.
  • Student respondent was placed on disciplinary probation for 24 months for exposing and manipulating their genitals in a public space. 
  • Student respondent was placed on disciplinary probation for 12 months for engaging in public sex act. 
  • Employee’s employment was terminated for engaging in sporadic instances of unwelcome verbal and physical conduct toward multiple co-workers. 
  • Employee’s employment was terminated for viewing sexually inappropriate materials in the workplace. 

 

Intimate Relationship Violence[13]
 

  • Student respondent (already on probation for prior case of Intimate Relationship Violence) was expelled for second finding of multiple separate acts of violence against their dating partner. 
  • Student respondent was placed on disciplinary probation for nine months for pulling and shaking student complainant (a former dating partner) in a public setting. 
  • Student respondent was placed on disciplinary probation for four months for physically restraining student complainant (their dating partner), by holding complainant’s wrists and for refusing to leave complainant’s hallway. 

 

Stalking[14]

  • Student respondent was placed on disciplinary probation for 18 months for sending three unwanted electronic communications to student complainant (their former dating partner), including derogatory and offensive gendered language and threats to harm complainant’s current dating partner. 

 

Retaliation[15]

  • Student respondent was placed on disciplinary probation for 48 months for throwing a beverage at student respondent (who had made a report of sexual misconduct related to respondent’s friend).

 

Footnotes


[1] In its 2017-2018 recommendations, the Faculty Student Committee on Sexual Misconduct wrote:  “We understand that the broader community’s desire to be informed of case details is in tension with respecting the right to privacy of complainants and respondents.  We believe that these rights to privacy should be prioritized over the community’s desire to learn details of cases.  Currently, a de-identified, aggregate report of cases is prepared annually.  We recommend providing the community with additional details regarding the types of behaviors that have occurred on our campus, as well as consequences for respondents, as this will serve as a way of educating our community regarding how the University treats these matters, while still respecting the privacy rights of complainants.  The Title IX Office should consider how to best do this in a way that protects complainants’ privacy.”  The present report was written once the University had acquired five years of aggregate data under the Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct Policy.

[2] In addition, withheld degrees are imposed instead of suspension at the end of senior year or final year of graduate study when all other degree requirements have already been met.

[3] Censure indicates the University’s desire to underscore the seriousness of the violation and the absence of mitigating circumstances, and to convey that seriousness in response to future authorized inquiries about the given individual's conduct.

[4] In addition to the sanctions described in this section, in cases in which respondents were suspended or placed on disciplinary probation, respondents were also required to complete CIP.

[5] In August of 2020, the University revised its policies in accordance with new federal regulations governing Title IX.  While the process for adjudicating sexual misconduct cases changed, the principles underlying sanctions determinations remained the same.  Therefore, this document continues to provide applicable information related to the determination of sanctions.  However, note that the cases described herein utilized definitions that may have changed and may fall under categories with different nomenclature (e.g., “non-consensual sexual penetration” rather than “rape”).  The full text of the Title IX Sexual Harassment policy and the University Sexual Misconduct policy are available here.

[6] In addition to formal investigations over this time period, the Office of Gender Equity and Title IX Administration provided support and resources—including referrals to confidential resources, information regarding how to obtain resources, and information regarding the disciplinary process and regarding law enforcement—to over 500 students and over 80 faculty and staff members who may have experienced or witnessed sexual misconduct.  In these situations, the potential complainants either opted not to pursue a disciplinary investigation, or not enough information was available for the University to conduct a disciplinary investigation.  

[7] Because there have been limited findings of responsibility in cases involving Sex Discrimination and Domestic Violence, examples are not provided of sanctions in such cases.

[8] Under the (previous) Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct policy, Non-Consensual Sexual Penetration (commonly referred to as rape) was defined as, “Any act of vaginal or anal penetration by a person’s penis, finger, other body part, or an object, or oral penetration by a penis, without consent.”

[9] Under the (previous) Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct policy, Non-Consensual Sexual Contact (commonly referred to as sexual assault) was defined as “Any sexual touching other than non-consensual sexual penetration without consent.  Examples of non-consensual sexual contact may include: genital-genital or oral-genital contact not involving penetration; contact with breasts, buttocks, or genital area, including over clothing; removing the clothing of another person; and kissing.”

[10] Under the (previous) Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct policy, Sexual Exploitation was defined as “Any act whereby one person violates the sexual privacy of another or takes unjust or abusive sexual advantage of another who has not provided consent, and that does not constitute non-consensual sexual penetration or non-consensual sexual contact.  Examples may include: recording, photographing, transmitting, viewing, or distributing intimate or sexual images or sexual information without the knowledge and consent of all parties involved; voyeurism (i.e., spying on others who are in intimate or sexual situations).”

[11] Under the (previous) Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct policy, Sexual Harassment was defined as “Unwelcome verbal or physical behavior which is directed at a person based on sex, gender identity or gender expression, when these behaviors are sufficiently severe and/or pervasive to have the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s educational experience, working conditions, or living conditions by creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.  Examples of conduct that can constitute sexual harassment if based on an individual’s sex, gender identity or gender expression include but are not limited to: Unwelcome jokes or comments (e.g., sexist jokes); Disparaging remarks about sex, gender identity, or gender expression (e.g., negative or offensive remarks or jokes about a person’s self-presentation); Displaying negative or offensive posters or pictures about sex, gender, or gender expression; Electronic communications, such as e-mail, text messaging, and Internet use, that violate this policy.  Sexual Harassment is deemed especially serious when submission to or rejection of such conduct is made implicitly or explicitly a term or condition of instruction, employment, or participation in any University activity or benefit; or submission to or rejection of these behaviors by an individual is used as a basis for evaluation in making academic or personnel decisions.”

[12] Under the (previous) Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct policy, Inappropriate Conduct Related to Sex, Gender Identity, or Gender Expression was defined as “Unwelcome or inappropriate conduct that does not fall under other forms of sexual misconduct, but that is sexual and/or gender-based in nature.  Examples may include public sex acts or flashing.”

[13] Under the (previous) Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct policy, Intimate Relationship Violence (also known as dating violence or intimate partner violence) was defined as “Acts of violence, threat or intimidation that harm or injure a partner in a current or former intimate relationship (defined below).  These acts may be physical, emotional/ psychological, sexual, or economic in nature.  Intimate relationship violence can be a single act or pattern of behavior.”

[14] Under the (previous) Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct policy, Stalking was defined as “A course of conduct (i.e., more than one act) that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear, to experience emotional distress, or to fear for the safety of a third person. Acts that together constitute stalking may be direct actions or may be communicated by a third party, and can include, but are not limited to: threats of harm to self or others; pursuing or following; non-consensual (unwanted) communication by any means; unwanted gifts; trespassing; and surveillance or other types of observation.”

[15] Under the (previous) Sex Discrimination and Sexual Misconduct policy, Retaliation was defined as “Any attempt to seek retribution against an individual or group of individuals involved in filing a complaint or report under this policy, filing an external complaint, participating in a disciplinary process, or opposing in a reasonable manner an action or policy believed to constitute a violation of this policy. Retaliation can take many forms, including abuse or violence, threats, and intimidation. Actions in response to a good faith report or response under this policy are considered retaliatory if they have a materially adverse effect on the working, academic or University-controlled living environment of an individual; or if they hinder or prevent the individual from effectively carrying out their University responsibilities. Any individual or group of individuals can engage in retaliation and will be held accountable under this policy.”