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What is an advocate?

An advocate is someone trained to provide confidential support and assistance to individuals who have experienced sexual misconduct. Advocates can help you file an order of protection, go with you to the hospital or to make a report, and help you get supportive measures. An advocate is available through Safe Passage

What is a supportive measure?

Supportive measures are designed to allow you to continue learning and working in a safe environment, or restore or preserve access to a university program or activity. These may include accommodations such as changes to your academic, living, transportation or work situations. Examples of accommodations include:

  • Transferring to a different section of a class, or withdrawing and taking a class at another time.
  • Moving to a different room or residence hall.
  • Issuance of a campus no-contact order.
  • Changing your work hours or location.
  • Parking in a different location or getting a safety escort.

You don't need to file a formal complaint with NIU or the police in order to request supportive measures. You should contact the Title IX coordinator to request supportive measures confidentially. The NIU confidential advisor or Safe Passage can also help you request supportive measures.

If you've experienced sexual misconduct, you can confidentially request supportive measures.

What is a rape kit and how do I get one?

A rape kit is an exam administered by a hospital to collect evidence after a sexual assault has taken place. This may be necessary for criminal prosecution and may be helpful in obtaining an order of protection. If possible, don't bathe, wash your hands, use the restroom, drink, smoke, change clothes or brush your teeth before seeking a rape kit or medical attention.

The nurses at Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital (1 Kish Hospital Dr., DeKalb) are trained to collect evidence (a rape kit) at no cost if you've been sexually assaulted or abused. The NIU police can take you to the hospital if you need a ride. When you arrive, an advocate from Safe Passage will be there to tell you what to expect and answer your questions.

Why don’t reported instances of sexual misconduct always lead to an investigation by the university?

In order for the university to proceed with a formal grievance process/investigation, the complainant (victim) or Title IX Coordinator must file a formal sexual misconduct complaint with the Ethics and Compliance Office. Generally, the Title IX Coordinator will follow the complainant’s wishes as to whether or not they want to file a formal complaint and proceed with an investigation.

There are also certain situations where the university does not have jurisdiction to investigate a complaint. For example, if the respondent (accused) is not a student or employee, the university cannot conduct an investigation as it has no authority over the respondent.

Filing a Police Report

How do I file a police report?

For an emergency, call 911. Otherwise, you may call the non-emergency police department phone number to file a police report. A dispatcher will connect you to the appropriate law enforcement agency. You can also go to the local police department of the city the incident occurred.

If you are unsure of which police department to contact, you may call the NIU Department of Police and Public Safety's non-emergency phone number at 815-753-1212 and they will assist you.

What happens after I file a police report?

After you file a police report, an officer may ask you about what happened to see if there's an immediate safety risk to you or the community. A detective may be assigned to your case. They'll interview you, the accused individual and other witnesses. They'll ask you if there is any physical evidence, such as clothing or bedsheets, or documentary evidence, such as text messages or other communications with the accused individual.

What if I file a police report and change my mind?

It is okay to change your mind. If you no longer want the police to investigate an incident you reported, you should contact the police department to determine your options. In some situations, the police may be able to terminate the investigation.

Filing a Sexual Misconduct Complaint With The Univeristy

What happens after I file a Sexual Misconduct complaint?

After you submit a complaint:

  1. An investigator from the Ethics and Compliance Office will contact you and the respondent (accused) via email within a few business days explaining that a complaint has been filed and a formal investigation has begun.
  2. The investigator will meet with you in a private setting to talk about what happened.
    • You may have an individual such as an advocate or friend, present.
  3. The investigator will then interview the respondent. You won't be present during this interview.
  4. The investigator will also collect witness statements and other evidence (pictures, texts, etc.).
  5. Both you and the respondent will receive a summary of all of the statements made and evidence collected during the investigation. You and the respondent will have an opportunity to respond to the summary.

The matter may be informally resolved and not require an investigation or a hearing. If an informal resolution is not reached, the investigation will resume and a live hearing may occur to determine whether the respondent has violated policy and, if so, what sanctions are appropriate. During this hearing, you and the respondent will both be present, each with your own advisor.

What if I file a Sexual Misconduct complaint and change my mind?

You have the right to file a sexual misconduct complaint and change your mind. However, some circumstances may require NIU to continue the investigation, despite your request to stop it. For example, if the respondent (accused) used a weapon or is a repeat offender, the Title IX coordinator may decide to continue the investigation in the interest of community safety.

Sexual Misconduct Investigation

What happens during the university’s sexual misconduct investigation?

A university sexual misconduct investigation is conducted by an investigator from the university’s Ethics and Compliance Office.

  • The investigator will email the complainant (victim) and respondent (accused) notifying them that a formal sexual misconduct complaint has been filed and provide details related to the allegations.
  • The investigator will meet with the complainant (victim) and the respondent (accused) separately in a private setting to talk about what happened.
    • The complainant and respondent may each have a support person, such as an advocate or friend, present.
    • The complainant and respondent may also have an advisor present.
  • The investigator will also collect witness statements and other evidence (pictures, texts, etc.).
  • The complainant and respondent will each receive a summary of all of the evidence collected during the investigation and have an opportunity to respond to it. The complainant and respondent generally have an opportunity to informally resolve the matter.
  • If there is no informal resolution, there will be a live hearing where the complainant and respondent are both present with their advisors. A neutral hearing officer will review the information from the investigation and the advisors will be allowed to ask questions of the complainant, respondent, and witnesses. The hearing officer will determine if the respondent violated university policy.
  • If the respondent is found responsible for violating university policy, they may face university sanctions. These will be determined by the hearing officer.
  • To be found responsible for sexual misconduct in violation of university policy, the evidence must show that the respondent is more than 50% likely to have violated the policy.
If I file a sexual misconduct complaint, will my name be given to the offender?

Yes. After receiving a sexual misconduct complaint, the offender is informed of your name and the allegations. However, you may request to remain completely anonymous or that your name or details surrounding the incident not be disclosed during the investigation process. However, anonymity and a request not to share details may hinder the university’s ability to conduct a full investigation. For example, the respondent (offender) may not have an opportunity to provide a statement as to what occurred if they are not aware of who they have harmed or other details regarding what happened.

Nevertheless, the university will attempt to provide resources to you.

What is the difference between a university sexual misconduct investigation and a criminal investigation?

Criminal Investigation

  • A criminal investigation is conducted by the police.
  • This investigation is to determine if an individual violated criminal law.
  • If the police believe there is enough evidence to show that criminal law was violated, the police will bring the case to the local state’s attorney’s office.
  • Criminal charges may then be filed against the accused. The matter is then handled in the court system.
  • The accused may plead guilty to the criminal charges or have a criminal trial. They must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt during a criminal trial.
  • If the accused is found guilty, they may face criminal penalties.

Sexual Misconduct Investigation

  • A university sexual misconduct investigation is conducted by an investigator from the university’s Ethics and Compliance Office.
  • This investigation is to collect statements and evidence so that a hearing officer can determine if an individual violated university policy.
  • If an individual is found responsible for violating university policy, they may face university sanctions, which differ from criminal penalties.
  • To be found responsible for sexual misconduct in violation of university policy, the evidence must show that the accused is more than 50% likely to have violated the policy.

NIU may conduct its own sexual misconduct investigation while a criminal investigation is taking place. An individual may be found responsible for violating university policy, but not charged criminally and vice versa.

Sexual Misconduct/University Policy

What is sexual misconduct?

Sexual misconduct is one or more acts of sexual assault, stalking, domestic violence, dating violence, or sex or gender harassment.

Can I get in trouble if I was drinking or using drugs?

The university wants to remove barriers that could prevent individuals from reporting an incident of sexual misconduct. If you report an incident of sexual misconduct, you can be granted amnesty, or pardoned, for a separate university policy violation (such as underage drinking) that's revealed in the report.

However, if the separate policy violation was especially harmful, including actions that place the health or safety of another person at risk, amnesty may not be granted. In this case, you may face disciplinary action for the separate policy violation.

What happens if the alleged offender is not affiliated with NIU?

The university’s response depends on the level of control the university has over the alleged offender.

For example, if an athlete or band member from a visiting school sexually assaults a student or employee from NIU, then NIU may not be able to discipline or take other direct action against the offender. However (subject to confidentiality provisions), NIU may conduct an inquiry into what happened, report the incident to the visiting school, and encourage them to take appropriate action.

NIU will also notify the complainant (victim) of any right to file a complaint with the alleged offender's school or local police. NIU may also decide not to invite the visiting school back to its campus. Even though NIU's ability to take direct action against a particular offender may be limited, the university will take appropriate steps to provide remedies for the victim and the broader university community.

Does the university’s policy protect against retaliation?

Yes, if an individual reports sexual misconduct, it's against university policy to take harmful actions against them for making the report. Therefore, if an individual complains formally or informally about sexual misconduct, or participates in an investigation or proceeding related to sexual misconduct, the university and other individuals are prohibited from retaliating. Retaliation includes intimidating, threatening, coercing or in any way discriminating against the individual.

What is a Title IX coordinator?

A Title IX coordinator's responsibilities include:

  • Overseeing the university's response to Title IX reports and complaints.
  • Coordinating and implementing supportive measures.
  • Implementing sanctions and remedies when an individual is found responsible for violating the Sexual Misconduct Policy.
  • Identifying and addressing any patterns or systemic problems revealed by reports and complaints.

NIU's Title IX coordinator is:

Sarah Garner
Ethics and Compliance Office
Health Services Building 230
titleixcoordinator@niu.edu
815-753-5560

Learn more about the Title IX coordinator and deputy Title IX coordinators.

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