These frequently asked questions include: information about reporting, the investigation process, the hearing process, prevention training and education, and general asked questions.

  • 1. General Questions

    What sexual offenses are prohibited by Catholic University?

    The University's Sexual Offenses Policy for Students and Policy for Employees prohibit sexual harassment, sexual assault, stalking, dating violence, and domestic violence. These actions are also prohibited by the University’s Title IX Policy. For detailed descriptions of each offense, please review the definitions in the policies.

    When Do the Title IX Policy and Procedures Apply?

    Under federal regulations effective August 14, 2020, Title IX applies to University programs or activities in U.S.  locations where the University exercises substantial control over both the respondent and the context in which the alleged misconduct  occurs.

    Would the University investigate a complaint if the alleged sexual misconduct occurred off-campus or as part of a University study abroad program?

    Yes.  Although Title IX does not apply to alleged sexual misconduct that occurs outside the U.S. or in off-campus contexts the University does not control, the alleged misconduct would still be covered by the University’s Sexual Offenses Policy for Employees or Policy for Students.  

    What is consent?

    Consent must be freely given with mutually understandable words or actions that indicate a willingness to participate in sexual activity. Consent cannot be obtained from a minor, someone who is mentally disabled, or someone who is unable to understand or who cannot communicate a lack of consent because they are incapacitated by alcohol or drugs. The full definition is in the policies referenced above.

    What does it mean to be incapacitated?

    Incapacitation means the inability to give consent, because an individual is mentally and/or physically helpless, asleep, unconscious, or unaware that sexual activity is occurring. Warning signs that a person may be approaching incapacitation may include, but are not limited to, vomiting, incoherent speech, and difficulty walking or standing up. The full definition is in the policies referenced in the first question.

  • 2. Reporting

    What should a person do if they have recently been sexually assaulted?

    The first step is to get to a safe place and seek medical attention. The second step is to obtain crisis counseling to deal with the trauma. After that, the survivor should decide on reporting. See ways for victims to get help.

    Will a victim who reports get in trouble for underage drinking or other rule violations?

    No. Victims who report sexual violence receive amnesty for lesser rule violations such as underage drinking or violations of residence hall visiting hours. For more information, please see amnesty provisions in the Title IX Policy and the Sexual Offenses Policy for Students.

    What are a survivor's options for reporting?

    A victim has the choice of reporting to:

    • The University, or
    • The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (or other jurisdiction if the assault occurred outside of Washington D.C.), or
    • Both, or
    • A victim may also choose to request that no formal complaint is filed.

    It is only by reporting to DPS or MPD that an investigation can be started that might result in investigation of a crime such as sexual assault. The victim can report to the University by contacting DPS, the Dean of Students office, or the Title IX Coordinator. Their contact information is on the homepage of this website.

    A victim can also report to a Mandatory Reporter, who will then contact DPS, the Dean of Students Office, or the Title IX Coordinator. Please keep in mind that Mandatory Reporters cannot keep reports of sexual offenses confidential. List of Mandatory Reporters. A victim also has the option of contacting the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education regarding sex discrimination issues. 

    Will the University contact the parents of a survivor who reports sexual violence?

    Catholic University will not inform parents of students age 18 or older unless there is a medical emergency or serious concern about the student's emotional well-being. University departments other than the Counseling Center may have a legal duty to contact the parents of a victim under age 18.

    Will a report to University officials automatically trigger an investigation?

    Usually not. The survivor can report but ask the University not to investigate. The University will honor that request except in rare cases.  For example, the University may be required to investigate by a law other than Title IX or because it has evidence that the alleged perpetrator may be a threat to the community.

    What is the difference between privacy and confidentiality?

    Confidentiality means that a person will not repeat information told by the survivor without the survivor's permission. Privacy means that information about a sexual offense will only be shared with key University employees on a need-to-know basis. Information reported to a responsible employee will be kept private, but it cannot be kept confidential.

    Where can survivor's go if they want complete confidentiality?

    Victims who want complete confidentiality can discuss their situation with a counselor at the Counseling Center, a physician or someone licensed to practice medicine (such as a nurse practitioner), a member of the clergy acting in a pastoral capacity, or an off-campus licensed rape counselor, such as counselors at the D.C. Rape Crisis Center.

    Is reporting the same as filing a complaint?

    No. A victim who reports is not obligated to file a complaint. Many victims report a sexual offense because they want support but are not ready to file a complaint. Victims have the option to change their minds and later file a complaint.

    What support is available to survivors of sexual assault?

    Victims have numerous support options. They can obtain interim measures such as no contact orders, academic accommodations, or relocation to a different residence hall. There also many campus and off-campus resources available for immediate emergencies and ongoing support.  For more information, go to the Get Help section of this website.

    What support is available to students accused of sexual violence?

    Students accused of sexual violence (often called respondents) also have numerous support options. Members of the Dean of Students office are trained to help respondents understand their rights and responsibilities and to guide them through the University's grievance process. Respondents may also obtain counseling through the Counseling Center or Campus Ministry.

  • 3. Investigations

    Who conducts investigations of sexual harassment or sexual violence?

    Captain Kim Gregory of DPS typically investigates allegations of sexual violence. Gregory spent more than 20 years investigating sexual violence cases at the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) before coming to Catholic University. Title IX Coordinator Frank Vinik typically investigates allegations of sexual harassment.

    Will the University wait to investigate if there are criminal charges pending?

    If a complainant files charges with both the University and MPD, the University will coordinate with MPD. However, the University will not necessarily wait until all criminal charges have been resolved because Title IX requires it to promptly resolve sexual offenses.

    What does the investigation involve?

    The investigator interviews the complainant and respondent. The investigator reviews any evidence including, but not limited to documents, emails, text messages, and social media postings. The investigator also identifies and interviews relevant witnesses, even if no one observed the reported incident. For example, if a complainant alleges that she could not consent because she was incapacitated by alcohol, the investigator may interview people who encountered the complainant before or after the alleged offense.

    What happens if an individual declines to cooperate with the investigation?

    If a complainant declines to be interviewed, the University will not proceed with an investigation unless it determines that the respondent is a threat to the campus community. In such a circumstance the investigation will proceed without the respondent's account. All witnesses are encouraged to speak to the investigator.

     

  • 4. Hearings in Title IX Cases

    How much advance notice do the parties receive of the hearing?

    The parties receive written notice at least 10 business days before the hearing.

    Who attends the hearing?

    The parties must have an advisor (who may be an attorney) to conduct cross-examination at the hearing.  If a party does not have an advisor, the University will provide one at no charge.  Parents may sit outside the hearing location to provide support but may not speak at the hearing.

    Who is on the Hearing Board and what kind of training do they receive?

    University faculty and professional staff members comprise the hearing board. All hearing board members receive at least eight hours of training on how to fairly decide cases of sexual assault with the following learning outcomes:

    • Participants will understand that education and student safety are at the heart of Catholic University student conduct process
    • Participants must be impartial, free of conflicts of interests, not use gender stereotypes, and not prejudge responsibility
    • Participants will acquire a general understanding of Title IX responsibilities of universities as they pertain to sexual assault response
    • Participants will understand due process considerations necessary to a just student conduct processes
    • Participants will understand the role of the University Hearing Board within the University's Sexual Offenses Grievance Process
    • Participants will acquire a general understanding the behaviors of a sexual nature which are prohibited by Title IX and the Sexual Offenses Polices for Employees and St
    • Participants will recognize the significance of employing a trauma-informed approach to the questioning and interviewing of complainants, respondents, and witnesses
    • Participants will demonstrate the critical thinking abilities necessary for a thorough evaluation of credibility, information, and University policies

    Please note that the University may elect to hold a hearing with a presiding officer and no board in Title IX cases.

    Do the parties have to see each other during the hearing?

    No. Either party may request a screen so that the parties do not see each other, or a party may choose to participate in the hearing remotely using audiovisual technology.  The University may also elect to hold the entire hearing using audiovisual technology.

    Will there be cross-examination at the hearing?

    Yes.  The advisors for each party are allowed to cross-examine the opposing party and all witnesses.  The presiding officer will determine whether questions are relevant and may disallow questions asked by advisors.  Parties cannot conduct cross-examination.  Members of the hearing board may ask questions of the parties and witnesses

    Is testimony regarding a party's past sexual history permitted at the hearing?

    Testimony regarding past sexual history ordinarily is not permitted, except in instances where there was a prior sexual relationship between the parties and the testimony may be relevant to the issue of consent.

    If the respondent is found responsible, who decides the sanction?

    The sanction will be decided by the Dean of Students if the respondent is a student, the Provost if the respondent is a faculty member, and the Chief Human Resources Officer if the respondent is a staff member.

    Can a party appeal the decision of the hearing board?

    Yes. A party may appeal to the President's Chief of Staff. The written appeal must address at least one of the following criteria:

    • Procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the matter
    • 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; 
    • Evidence showing a Title IX Coordinator, investigator, or decision-maker had a conflict of interest or bias for or against complainants or respondents generally or the individual complainant or respondent that affected the outcome of the matter.
  • 5. Sexual Offense Hearings in Non-Title IX Cases

    Who is on the Hearing Board and what kind of training do they receive?

    University faculty and professional staff members comprise the hearing board. All hearing board members receive at least eight hours of training on how to fairly decide cases of sexual assault with the following learning outcomes:

    Participants will understand that education and student safety are at the heart of Catholic University student conduct process

    • Participants will acquire a general understanding of Title IX responsibilities of universities as they pertain to sexual assault response
    • Participants will understand due process considerations necessary to a just student conduct processes
    • Participants will understand the role of the University Hearing Board within the University's Sexual Offenses Grievance Process
    • Participants will acquire a general understanding the behaviors of a sexual nature which are prohibited by Section R (Sexual Offenses) of the Code of Student Conduct
    • Participants will recognize the significance of employing a trauma-informed approach to the questioning and interviewing of complainants, respondents, and witnesses
    • Participants will demonstrate the critical thinking abilities necessary for a thorough evaluation of credibility, information, and University policy

    When do cases go to a hearing?

    Cases go to a hearing when the Dean of Students determines that there is sufficient information available to charge the respondent with an alleged violation of University policy.

    How much advance notice do the parties receive?

    The parties receive written notice at least seven days before the hearing. A party may request an extension of time to prepare for the hearing. The University only grants extensions of more than two days in unusual circumstances where the party can demonstrate the necessity for a longer delay.

    Who may be present at the hearing?

    The parties may choose to have one or both parents at the hearing and/or an advisor. Parents and advisors may not address the hearing board during the hearing and can only provide support for a student. Hearings are closed to the public, including friends and University personnel without an official interest in the case. Witnesses may be invited to participate in the hearing, but are not required to do so.

    Do the parties have to see each other during the hearing?

    No. Either party may request a screen so that the parties do not see each other, or a party may choose to participate remotely using audio-visual technology.

    Can the parties cross-examine each other or witnesses?

    No. The parties can suggest questions in writing to the hearing board, which will ask questions that it determines are relevant. The presiding officer of the hearing board will often rephrase questions.

    Is testimony regarding a party's past sexual history permitted at the hearing?

    Testimony regarding past sexual history ordinarily is not permitted, except in instances where there was a prior sexual relationship between the parties and the testimony may be relevant to the issue of consent.

    If the respondent is found responsible, who decides the sanction? 

    The sanction will be decided by the Dean of Students if the respondent is a student, the Provost if the respondent is a faculty member, and the Chief Human Resources Officer if the respondent is a staff member.

    Can a party appeal the decision of the hearing board?

    Yes. A party may appeal to the President's Chief of Staff. The written appeal must address at least one of the following criteria:

    • Significant procedural error that changes the findings of fact
    • New evidence that significantly alters the findings of fact that was previously unknown to either party, and has been discovered and is available during the appeal process
  • 6. Training and Education

    What training and education does the University provide to students?

    • All incoming first year students are required to complete an online course on sexual violence before the academic year
    • New student orientation includes programming on sexual assault using live actors to illustrate common situations and appropriate response
    • All peer educators, orientation advisors, resident assistants, hall safety assistants, and student ministers attend in-person training on prevention of sexual assault and proper reporting.
    • The university provides bystander intervention workshops to students throughout the year
    • The Dean of Students Office coordinates numerous events during Sexual Violence Prevention Month, Dating Violence Awareness Month and Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

    What role do students play in education and prevention?

    The group Peer Educators Empowering Respectful Students (PEERS) delivers active workshops to students and organizes awareness campaigns.

    What other resources does the University provide?

    Annually, the Sexual Assault and Violence Education (SAVE) program publishes Sexual Violence: A Resource for the CUA Community and Are You an Empowered Bystander? These resources provide support options for students who may have experienced sexual violence. They also provide information about safe and positive options for bystander intervention that may be carried out by an individual to prevent harm or intervene when there is a risk of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking against a person other than such individual and information on risk reduction to recognize warning signs of abusive behavior and how to avoid potential attacks.

    How are faculty and staff trained?

    The Title IX Coordinator provides training on issues related to sexual violence, sexual harassment and discrimination to faculty, staff, and students throughout the year.

    The Department of Public Safety provides training in Rape Aggression Defense Systems for faculty, staff, and students. The CUA Counseling Center, Department of Public Safety, Office of the Dean of Students, and Student Health Services are available to provide informational programs and support to University students and employees upon request.

    What trainings have University administrators received?

    Click here for the training materials used by Catholic University administrators.

     

    What are some steps Catholic University has taken to improve its efforts in addressing sexual assault on campus?

    The University has undertaken a number of initiatives over the past few years in an effort to address this issue and ensure the safety and well-being of its community members. These include:

    • Awareness campaign that resulted in significantly increased reporting
    • Training for all of our full-time faculty on how to assist survivors of sexual assault and provide a trauma-informed response
    • Expansion of our support services for survivors to include 24-hour emergency counseling
    • Survivor support groups
    • A system for staying closely connected with students who report assaults
    • Publication of Title IX Annual Reports for each academic year

     

  • 7. Town Hall on New Title IX Regulations