XIV. Sexual Misconduct Hearing Procedures

The sexual misconduct hearing is the appropriate COD case resolution method to use in cases alleging sexual misconduct, intimate partner violence, or stalking when (i) either the complainant or the respondent do not agree with the investigator’s recommended finding of responsibility and (ii) suspension, expulsion, or degree revocation for a student or suspension of recognition or loss or recognition for a student organization is possible if the respondent is found responsible.

The following hearing procedures are generally followed. The COD reserves the right to adjust these procedures as the Chair deems appropriate.

A. The sexual misconduct hearing panel shall be comprised of three members of the sexual misconduct subcommittee.  The Chair or Associate Chair and at least one Dean’s representative must be on the panel; the third representative can be any member of the sexual misconduct subcommittee except that the subcommittee member who reviewed the investigation report as described in Section XIII(F)(v) may not be one of the selected three panelists.

B. The scope of the sexual misconduct hearing is limited to the points in dispute that have relevance to the determination of whether or not a policy violation occurred.  The sexual misconduct hearing is not a venue where the parties are expected to re-tell their narrative of the events that resulted in the complaint or reiterate points already made in interviews or written statements submitted to the investigator.  The purpose of the investigation is for a trained and unbiased professional to assemble and present all of the relevant information.  The purpose of the sexual misconduct hearing is to use the information in the investigation report and the statements of the complainant and respondent to determine whether or not a policy violation occurred.

Accordingly:

i. In general, documents that have not been submitted during the investigation and included in the investigation report may not be presented to the COD prior to or at the sexual misconduct hearing.

a. The Chair may permit documents to be submitted that were not part of the investigation upon a showing of good cause.

b. All parties are required to affirm that materials they submit to the COD are their own work.  Outside collaborators, including an advisor, must be cited.

c. If such documents are permitted, the OSC will provide access to submitted documents to the COD panelists, the complainant, and the respondent.

ii. In general, a complainant, witness, or respondent who had the opportunity to participate during the investigation but elected not to participate will not be permitted to participate verbally in the hearing or submit documents prior to the hearing.

a. The Chair may permit a complainant, witness, or respondent who did not participate in the investigation to participate in the hearing upon a showing of good cause.  Exceptions of this nature are expected to be rare.  The possibility or pendency of a law enforcement investigation or criminal court proceedings will generally not be considered good cause for an exception.  Such request must be made at least three business days before the sexual misconduct hearing.

C. The sexual misconduct hearing is scheduled as soon as is reasonably possible after the investigator’s report and the responses of the complainant and respondent accepting or rejecting the investigator’s recommended finding are received.

D. In cases where a student organization is the respondent, the governing council responsible for that student organization shall be notified of the pending case during the investigation and be invited to submit a letter about the case during the investigation.

E. The OSC will notify the complainant and respondent of the sexual misconduct hearing date, time, and location in writing at least five business days before the scheduled hearing.

F. Sexual misconduct hearings will usually be conducted using videoconference or other distance method so that the parties are not in the same room simultaneously at any time during the hearing.  Both parties will be permitted to participate in the hearing (e.g., watch the testimony of others, ask questions of witnesses, etc.) remotely using technology.

i. The Chair may permit the hearing to be held in a way that both parties are present in the same room for the duration of the hearing upon a request from both parties.  Such request must be made at least three business days before the sexual misconduct hearing.

G. The sexual misconduct hearing usually proceeds as follows, although the Chair may vary the procedure at their discretion.

i. The Chair reads introductions and description of the hearing procedures to the parties.

ii. The Chair reads the alleged violation(s) and asks the respondent either to accept or deny responsibility.

iii. The complainant may make an opening statement followed by the opportunity of the respondent to submit questions to the COD Chair to be asked of the complainant.  The Chair will only ask questions of the complainant submitted by the respondent that the Chair determines are relevant.  Then the COD sexual misconduct hearing panel will have the opportunity to ask questions of the complainant.

iv. Any approved complainant’s witnesses may provide statements followed by the opportunity of the complainant and the respondent to submit questions to be asked of the witness by the COD Chair.  Then the COD sexual misconduct hearing panel will have the opportunity to ask questions of the witnesses.

v. The respondent may make an opening statement followed by the opportunity of the complainant to submit questions to the COD Chair to be asked of the respondent.  The Chair will only ask questions of the respondent submitted by the complainant that the Chair determines are relevant.  Then the COD sexual misconduct hearing panel will have the opportunity to ask questions of the respondent.

vi. Any approved respondent’s witnesses may provide statements followed by the opportunity of the complainant and the respondent to submit questions to be asked of the witness by the COD Chair.  Then the COD sexual misconduct hearing panel will have the opportunity to ask questions of the witnesses.

vii. The COD sexual misconduct hearing panel may ask questions of both parties and the parties may submit any final questions to be asked of the other party.  The Chair will relay any relevant questions.

viii. The complainant may make a brief closing statement, followed by the same opportunity for the respondent.

ix. The Chair makes a closing statement, including when decision is expected to be made.

x. The COD sexual misconduct hearing panel meets in executive session to deliberate.

H. Witnesses

In general, because they have already been interviewed and their information incorporated into the investigator’s report, witnesses who participated in the investigation will not be permitted to appear in person at the sexual misconduct hearing.

i. The Chair may permit a witness to appear in person at the hearing upon a showing of good cause.  Such request must be made at least three business days before the sexual misconduct hearing.

ii. The Chair may request a witness to appear in person without a request from either party if the Chair believes the presence of such witness will be useful to the COD subcommittee members involved in the case.

iii. Any witnesses who are permitted to participate in the hearing may only be present at the hearing during their presentation of information and response to questions. The Chair may ask that witnesses remain available following their presentation in case a witness needs to be recalled for additional information.

iv. Character witnesses are not permitted.

v. Unless the Chair decides otherwise in unusual circumstance, expert witnesses are not allowed.

I. Chair's Role (or Associate Chair, when applicable)

i. The Chair convenes and facilitates the hearing.

ii. The Chair may postpone or suspend a hearing.

iii. The Chair may call a brief recess at any time during the hearing.

iv. At any time, the Chair determines whether certain witnesses should appear and decides whether any particular question, statement, or information will be allowed during a hearing. Formal rules of evidence that apply to civil or criminal judicial processes are not applicable.

v. The Chair may call a particular witness.

vi. The Chair shall warn any participant deemed to be disruptive, harassing, or intimidating to any other participant and if appropriate, excuse any individual's presence at a hearing, or take any other action deemed necessary by the Chair to ensure an orderly hearing.

J. COD Sexual Misconduct Hearing Panel Deliberations and Decision

Once the Chair concludes the hearing, the COD sexual misconduct hearing panel meets in executive session to reach their decision. The COD sexual misconduct hearing panel decides first, using a preponderance of the evidence standard and based on a majority, if a respondent is responsible for committing one or more violations of MIT policy or standards. If a respondent is found responsible, the COD sexual misconduct hearing panel will then decide what is the appropriate sanction or sanctions to impose. In deliberations on sanctions, the COD sexual misconduct hearing panel may review any prior findings of responsibility of the respondent. The sanctions available are described in Section XI.

K. The Chair or the OSC will usually meet with the respondent and complainant within five business days of the sexual misconduct hearing.  A written notice of the decision is usually provided to a respondent and the complainant no later than five business days after the hearing. This letter will be copied to MIT officials as appropriate.

L. Either the complainant or the respondent may appeal the decision reached at a sexual misconduct hearing, regardless of the finding of responsibility or the severity of the sanction.  The appeal procedure is described in Section XII.

M. Record Keeping

i. No recording of any kind of a hearing is allowed. No electronic devices may be used during a hearing by anyone present.

ii. A documentary record of the proceedings will be kept in the files of the COD. This record should consist of: (1) the investigation report, (2) all documents submitted at the hearing, and (3) the decision letter. This record does not summarize or otherwise attempt to preserve the hearing or deliberative discussions.

 

 

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