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Title IX Investigations
Frequently Asked Questions
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    What does the “preponderance of the evidence” mean?

    The preponderance of the evidence standard is the required standard of proof in BYU’s investigation procedures for Title IX cases. It is also referred to as “more likely than not” and is equivalent to 50.1% or “50% plus a feather.” A school will find an individual responsible for violating the Sexual Harassment Policy when the evidence supports the finding based on a preponderance of the evidence. If the evidence is 50/50, there will be no finding. This standard for weighing evidence aligns with the university's other discipline policies when weighing evidence.

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    What is the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard of evidence?

    “Beyond a reasonable doubt” is the standard of proof that applies in a criminal trial. It is a very high standard of proof that is significantly greater than the preponderance of the evidence standard and is NOT used in BYU Title IX investigations.

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    How long does a Title IX investigation take?

    Our goal is complete all investigations within sixty calendar days. Some investigations may take longer due to complexity, unavailability of witnesses, or other extenuating factors. However, most investigations are complete prior to sixty days.

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    Will I ever be required to meet with or see the other party involved in my case?

    No. Respondents and complainants do not have to meet or speak to each other as part of a Title IX investigation or informal resolution. Both parties will have the opportunity to read and respond to the statements and evidence of the other, but all communication will be facilitated through the investigator.

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    Can I provide my own witnesses and evidence?

    Yes! Both parties will have the opportunity to present witnesses and the investigator will make every effort to speak with every witness. The investigator may also develop additional witnesses. Both parties may also provide any relevant evidence. Evidence is often comprised of text messages, emails, photos, videos, or other documents. Evidence can be any information that corroborates or contradicts the allegations, and both parties will have equal opportunity to present evidence and witnesses.

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    How will I know the status and outcome of the investigation?

    Both parties will be kept in informed on the status and outcome of the investigation by the investigator. If ever one party has a questions, they can can contact the investigator at any time for an update. Although the investigator will not be able to comment on the potential conclusion or finding prior to the final report, both parties may know what is happening at all times.

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    What if I make a report to the Title IX Office (or someone else makes a report on my behalf) but I don't want an investigation?

    After receiving a report, the Title IX Office will work the complainant to determine the best way to proceed. In most cases, we will be able to honor your request not to pursue an investigation. However, in some cases we may be required to proceed with an investigation even if it is requested that we don't. In each situation, the Title IX Office will consider the seriousness of the alleged Sexual Harassment, the age or maturity of the complainant, the existence of any previous accusations against the alleged violator, and the existence of independent evidence to substantiate the allegations. Again, our goal is to help victims, but as a university we are also responsible to ensure we appropriately address the behavior and stop it from happening to others.

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    What is the difference between a formal investigation and an informal resolution?

    A formal investigation follows a prescribed process and will conclude with a formal finding and outcome.  In nearly all cases, discipline and sanctions can only occur after a formal investigation is complete.  However, if the preponderance of the evidence standard is not met, there will be no discipline and the case will be closed.  An informal resolution works to conclude the matter quickly and confidentially, at the end of which there is no formal finding or discipline.  

    Formal Investigation Process Flowchart

    Informal Resolution Process Flowchart

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    Will you call my parents as part of the investigation?

    No, we only share information with parents or others if you have filled out and signed a waiver allowing us to do so. BYU's Title IX investigations are bound by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which is a federal privacy law, as well as the university's confidentiality policy. However, we are also bound by state child abuse reporting laws if the student is a minor, and we will be required to notify the proper authorities.

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    If I've been contacted by the Title IX Office, do I have to participate in the investigation?

    No. Participation in a Title IX investigation is up to you. However, the investigator will be required to come to a finding at the conclusion of the investigation based on all the available evidence and information. If you decline to participate, whatever information you may have but did not share will not be considered when the investigator determines the finding. Additionally, and per the university's policy, it's important to note that this information will NOT be able to be submitted once the final outcome is determined if it was reasonably available but you chose not to submit it.

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    In what type of investigation does the live hearing requirement apply?

    The 2020 Department of Education Title IX Final Rule requires that a university hold a live hearing with cross examination in cases in which the university conducts a formal investigation. Under the new Rule, Title IX cases include only those in which the reported sexual harassment occurs on campus or within the school's "education program or activity." This does not include allegations of sexual harassment that occur in BYU-contracted off-campus student housing or otherwise off-campus. But a university "may address sexual harassment affecting its students that falls outside Title IX's jurisdiction in any manner the school chooses." BYU will continue to investigate reports of sexual harassment that occur off-campus or outside its "education program or activity" as long as the alleged respondent is a BYU student or employee. If the alleged sexual harassment occurs outside of the school's education program or activity, the university may not conduct a live hearing with cross examination as part of its formal investigative process.

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    I'd like to bring my friend with me when I come to the Title IX Office so I don't have to be alone. Is this allowed?

    Yes. Both the complainant and the respondent may have a support person with them during meetings with the Title IX Office. The support person may attend for purposes of observation, but will not be permitted to participate in the interview. If someone attends a meeting as a support person, this may affect whether or not they will be able to be a witness in the investigation. Attorneys are only permitted as support persons if the allegations include domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, or sexual assault, and if so, the attorney is still bound by the same parameters of other support persons and is not able to participate in the interview.

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    If the formal investigation in my case requires a live hearing, will I have to sit in the same room with the other party and any witnesses during the hearing?

    No! At the request of either party, the university must provide for the live hearing to occur with the parties located in separate rooms connected by technology in order to allow the Decision-maker(s) and the parties to simultaneously see and hear all of the events in the hearing proceedings.

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    Will the other party be allowed to cross-examine me at a live hearing?

    No! If you are involved in a formal investigation that requires a live hearing, the other party will not ask you cross-examination questions himself or herself. Cross-examination at hearing is conducted only by party advisors and never by the parties personally. In addition, all questions must be approved in advance by the Decision-maker(s).

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    If I participate in a Title IX investigation, will that show up on my official transcript or student record?

    No. BYU does not publish Title IX findings on your transcript or academic record.

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    What happens if I am found to have violated the university's Sexual Harassment Policy?

    The Honor Code Office is the Responsible Administrator for students and will determine the appropriate disciple or sanctions based on the outcome of the investigation. Possible sanctions include counsel and education, referral (to a responsible person or agency—e.g., reconciliation process), warning, probation, suspension withheld, short suspension, suspension, dismissal, and a ban from campus. The Responsible Administrators for allegations of Sexual Harassment against a faculty member are the faculty member’s dean and chair or director, who shall administer any discipline consistent with the Faculty Discipline and Termination Policy. Possible sanctions include verbal counseling, written warning, probation, reassignment, demotion, reduction in pay, suspension, termination of faculty employment, and a ban from campus. The Responsible Administrator for allegations of Sexual Harassment against a non-faculty employee is the director over the employee’s area, who shall administer any discipline in consultation with the Manager of Employee Relations and consistent with the Administrative and Staff Employee Discipline Policy and Procedures. Possible sanctions include verbal counseling, written warning, probation, reassignment, transfer, demotion, reduction in pay, suspension, termination of employment, and a ban from campus. The Responsible Administrators for allegations of Sexual Harassment against a visitor to campus are the vice president over the university unit that originally invited the visitor to campus, or the vice president’s designee, and, if a violation is found, the University Banning Committee. Possible sanctions include banning the visitor from all or a part of the university campus.

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    If I have been accused of Sexual Harassment, is there someone I can talk to confidentially?

    Yes. The Confidential Advisor to Respondents, Scott Hosford, is available to answer your questions and explain the process. You can find his contact information  here.

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    If I make a report to the Title IX Office, I'm afraid that the other person may come after me. Are there any protections for this?

    BYU's Sexual Harassment Policy includes a strict prohibition against intimidation and retaliation. This includes any adverse action that is reasonably likely to deter a person from pursuing their rights under Title IX, which includes making a report or participating in an investigation. If you feel you have been the target of intimidation or retaliation, please contact the Title IX Office immediately.

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    What happens if there is an ongoing police investigation at the same time a report is made to the Title IX Office?

    A criminal investigation is completely independent of any Title IX investigation and often runs concurrently. The Title IX investigation is looking into alleged violations of the university Sexual Harassment Policy whereas the criminal investigation is looking into alleged violations of criminal law. The Title IX Office does not share the outcome of its investigative activity with the police and vice versa. A student may, however, provide a waiver allowing the sharing of specific information at their request. Because of the differing standards of evidence in each process, it is possible for the Title IX investigator to reach a finding of Sexual Harassment based on the "preponderance of evidence" standard even when a criminal case is unable to meet the higher "beyond a reasonable doubt" standard.

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    If I don't agree with the decision made by the Title IX Office's investigation, do I have any appeal rights?

    Yes. As per the Sexual Harassment Policy, you have the opportunity to request an administrative review of both the investigation outcome and any corresponding sanction decisions, which will be conducted by a designated Title IX Deputy Coordinator who has had no previous involvement in your case. If you wish to initiate the Title IX review process, you must complete the enclosed Sexual Harassment Policy Review Application and submit it to the Title IX Coordinator within five (5) business days of receipt of this letter. As stated in the Sexual Harassment Policy, you must identify one of the following grounds for review: (1) A procedural irregularity affected the outcome of the matter; (2) New evidence that was not reasonably available at the time the Determination Regarding Responsibility or dismissal was made, that could affect the outcome of the matter. This new evidence and an explanation of both why it was unavailable at the time the determination and its potential impact must be included in the appeal; or (3) The Title IX Coordinator, Investigator, or any Decision-maker had a conflict of interest, a bias for or against Complainants or Respondents generally, or a preexisting bias against the individual Complainant or Respondent that affected the outcome of the matter.

    On review, the outcome will be upheld unless you are able to demonstrate, by clear and convincing evidence, that one or more of these conditions has been met. You should know that the reviewer can 1) support this decision; 2) increase the severity of this decision; or 3) modify or completely change this decision.

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    If I submit a request for a review/appeal, who will conduct it and how is it done?

    A faculty member who is dissatisfied with a final resolution may initiate a grievance or file an appeal pursuant to the Faculty Grievance Policy. A faculty member may appeal a resolution resulting in the involuntary termination of his or her employment pursuant to the Faculty Discipline and Termination Policy.

    Administrative and staff employees who are dissatisfied with the final resolution that results in disciplinary sanctions against them may submit a grievance pursuant to the Administrative and Staff Employee Grievance Policy. Full-time administrative and staff employees may seek an administrative review of a resolution resulting in the termination of their employment under the same policy.

    When the resolution includes disciplinary sanctions affecting a student’s Honor Code standing, the student may seek a review pursuant to the Honor Code Investigation and Administrative Review Process.

    In situations where there is no other university policy or procedure that applies, (e.g., for administrative or staff employee Complainants or student Complainants who are dissatisfied with the final resolution), the Complainant may petition the immediate supervisor of the Responsible Administrator who determined the resolution for a Review.

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    What is the 2020 Department of Education Title IX Final Rule, and what changes does it make to Title IX?

    The 2020 Department of Education Title IX Final Rule is the first Title IX guidance published by OCR to go through a formal notice-and-comment process since 1997, and carries the force of law. The Final Rule went into effect on August 14, 2020. It requires that a university provide a live hearing with cross-examination as part of its formal investigation process. It also changes a university's Title IX jurisdiction to complaints of sexual harassment that occur within a school's "education program or activity," and specifically excludes off-campus student housing not under the university's substantial control. But a college "may address sexual harassment affecting its students or employees that falls outside Title IX's jurisdiction in any manner the school chooses." BYU continues to investigate reports of sexual harassment that occur off-campus or outside of its "education program or activities." BYU may apply different investigative processes to reports of sexual harassment that occur outside of its educational program or activities. The 2020 Final Rules also makes other changes as well.