Frequently Asked Questions Related to Sexual Misconduct

FAQ: Help and Support

Villanova encourages any community member who has experienced sexual misconduct to talk with someone about what happened so that they may obtain support and so the University may respond appropriately. It is important to know there are 24/7 resources, confidential resources and a variety of support options available for any community member, even if they do not wish to report the incident to the University or to the local police. No one will be forced to go through any steps or processes they do not wish to go through.

Please visit our Help and Support page for additional details.

It is important to recognize the courage it took for that friend to come to you. Try your best to be a good resource for your friend and make sure you take care of yourself. It is important to know:

  • Your friend should be in a place where they feel safe. If they do not feel safe, identify a place where they will feel safe and take them there.
  • Because preserving evidence is of the utmost importance, your friend should not: change their clothing, shower, apply any medication to wounds, drink or chew gum.
  • Getting medical attention as soon as possible is extremely important.
  • Predatory Drug Test: If predatory drugs are suspected, your friend can request free and confidential testing at the Student Health Center. This should be done within 72 hours of the suspected drugging.

  • Everyone responds differently to sexual misconduct. Your friend may want or need emotional support immediately following an incident of misconduct and for many years to follow. Free, confidential counseling is available at the University Counseling Center for both you and your friend.

Call a SARC if you have questions or concerns about any incident of sexual misconduct, regardless of when or where it occurred. A SARC is available 24/7 at 484-343-6028.

They will able to review all options available to a survivor of any act of sexual misconduct (including medical care, reporting, counseling) and can accompany a student to campus and/or community services to ensure they receive appropriate medical care, emotional support and follow-up information following any experience of sexual violence. If someone isn’t sure whom to talk to, calling a SARC is a good way to explore options.

A SARC can review options available to anyone who has experienced any form of sexual misconduct, including sexual assault, sexual exploitation, stalking, sexual harassment, intimate partner violence, retaliation, incest, and statutory rape. The SARC can also help someone who is trying to support a friend or loved one who has experienced sexual misconduct.

A SARC can connect a student to a variety of resources, (medical care, reporting, counseling), and can accompany a student to campus and/or community services to ensure that they receive appropriate care and follow-up information following an incident of sexual misconduct.

The University has designated SARCs and nurses/nurse practitioners in the Student Health Center to provide immediate assistance and support to any person wishing to seek assistance following an experience of sexual misconduct. They are required to share disclosures of sexual misconduct with the Title IX Coordinator, but generally only report that an incident occurred without revealing any personally identifying information about the person, if requested by the reporting person. 

These reports to the Title IX Coordinator (or a Deputy Title IX Coordinator) will include the name of the Respondent (if shared), general nature of the incident, date, time of day, and location, as well as other information needed to assess whether an on-going threat is present in order to evaluate whether a safety alert should be issued.

Because preservation of physical evidence is of the utmost importance, a survivor should not:

  • change their clothing or shower;
  • apply any medication to wounds;
  • drink or chew gum;
  • delete text messages or other messages through social media and other digital communication platforms.

However, if a survivor has removed clothing that was worn at the time of the incident, the clothing should be stored in a paper bag.

Additionally, if you suspect that you have been drugged with a predatory drug like GHB or Rohypnol, it is important that you request a urine sample be taken within 72 hours of the suspected drugging. Most predatory drugs are eliminated from a person’s system within 24-72 hours, so it is critical to request a sample be taken in a timely manner.

Students:

A University Respondent Resource Coordinator is available to provide information on resources for students accused of sexual assault, sexual harassment, or other sexual misconduct. The Respondent Resource Coordinator will assist a Respondent with obtaining emotional support through counseling, navigating the disciplinary process, and assisting with other questions and concerns. The Respondent Resource Coordinator team does not act as legal counsel and generally are unable to serve as Advisors in University disciplinary proceedings.

The Respondent Resource Coordinator team can be reached via email at respondentresource@villanova.edu or by leaving a message at 610-519-8807

Complainants and Respondents are entitled to a fair, prompt and equitable process. Students should contact the Dean of Students Office for detailed information regarding the disciplinary process for reports of sexual violence. You can also visit our Respondent website for more information.

It is also important for the friends of the Respondent to understand how to appropriately support their friend.

 

FAQ: Reporting

Someone who reports sexual misconduct in good faith, either as a Complainant or a third-party witness, will not be subject to disciplinary action for policy violations such as underage consumption of alcohol or drug use related to the incident.

This amnesty does not apply to more serious allegations such as physical abuse or drug distribution. 

  • YES, if you wish to file a formal complaint under the University’s Sexual Misconduct Grievance procedures. 

  • YES, if you wish to pursue criminal charges against the other person 

  • NO, if you do not wish to file a formal complaint with the University or a report to law enforcement.  

  • Regardless of your choice, you will have access to supportive measures.

  • POSSIBLY, if the University determines there is a potential ongoing threat to you, protective measures may be instituted. If this occurs, the University will communicate this to you and the reasons why these protective steps are taken.
  • YES, if you file charges with the local law enforcement.
  • It is a violation of University policy to retaliate in any way against an individual or group because the individual or group of individuals reported an allegation of sexual misconduct.
  • The University recognizes that retaliation may take many forms, may be committed by an individual or a group against an individual or a group, and that a Respondent can also be the subject of retaliation by the Complainant or a third party.
  • The University will take immediate and responsive action to any report of retaliation and will pursue disciplinary action as appropriate.
  • An individual reporting an incident of sexual misconduct is entitled to protection from any form of retaliation following a report that is made in good faith.

Yes, you may file a formal complaint with the Title IX Coordinator and/or file a report with law enforcement. You can also withdraw a formal complaint with the University at any time. Regardless of what steps you take, the University will offer supportive measures.

Administrative investigations of all sexual misconduct involving a current student: The Title IX Investigator or their designee will typically oversee the administrative investigation of all sexual misconduct reports where the Respondent is a current student.

Administrative investigations of sexual misconduct involving a University employee: Human Resources and/or the Title IX Investigator or their designee will typically oversee the investigation of all reports of sexual misconduct involving a Respondent who is a University employee (faculty or staff).  

Criminal investigations: The Director of Public Safety & Chief of Police or their designee oversees the criminal investigation of all sexual misconduct reports conducted by the Department, regardless of the Respondent’s affiliation with the University.

For administrative (non-criminal) investigations, the University will provide to a party whose participation is invited or expected, written notice of the date, time, location, known participants and purpose of all hearings, investigative interviews, or other meetings, with sufficient time for that party to prepare to participate.

Normally, investigations will include interviewing the parties, interviewing witnesses as appropriate, and collecting relevant documentary, electronic, or other evidence. Students, faculty and staff deemed relevant to the matter may be asked to participate in an investigation, and when asked, they are expected to find time to meet and share information with the investigator.  A criminal investigation may also include the collection of physical and/or forensic evidence which could be shared with the administrative investigator and included in the Investigative Report as outlined below.

Prior to the conclusion of the administrative investigation, the parties will have an equal opportunity to inspect and review the evidence obtained through the investigation, and will have the opportunity to meaningfully respond to the evidence.  The parties will have ten (10) business days to inspect and review the evidence and submit a written response by email to the investigator.  The investigator will consider the parties’ written responses before completing an Investigative Report that fairly summarizes the relevant evidence.  The investigator will provide the parties access to the Investigative Report at least ten (10) business days prior to any hearing for each party’s review and written response.  The investigator will share all evidence submitted during the investigation, the Investigative Report, and any responses, with the University authorities empowered to act on violations of University policy.

At the conclusion of the investigation and all applicable steps described above, the matter will be referred to the specific resolution process as determined by the role of the Respondent, as outlined below:

The University process and the criminal justice process are separate and independent courses of action. A Complainant who wishes to pursue a criminal complaint is encouraged to make a report to law enforcement. Incidents occurring on campus are within the jurisdiction of Villanova University Department of Public Safety. Actions occurring off-campus are within the jurisdiction of one of several surrounding townships, most of which are listed in Off Campus/Community Resources. If the Complainant does not know in which municipality the incident occurred, the Complainant should contact the Sexual Assault Resource Coordinator, Public Safety or 911 for assistance. Upon request, the Sexual Assault Resource Coordinator on call or a representative of the Department of Public Safety can accompany a Complainant to the police department with jurisdiction and assist a Complainant in making a criminal report. Notifying municipal law enforcement will generally result in the Complainant, and in some cases the Respondent, being contacted by a municipal police officer. The police will determine if a criminal investigation will occur and if the case will be referred for prosecution. Unless there are compelling circumstances, the University will typically not file an independent police report without the consent of the Complainant.

 

FAQ: Options for resolution with the University

A formal complaint can be filed by the Complainant to the Title IX Coordinator or a Deputy Title IX Coordinator in person, mail, email or through other reporting means, but must include a signed (physical or digital signature) written description of the facts alleged and request that the University investigate the matter. If a formal complaint is filed, an investigation will commence and the parties will be provided with options for informal and formal resolution.

If a Complainant reports an incident of sexual misconduct and chooses not to file a formal complaint, supportive measures will remain available to the Complainant. In such cases, the University must weigh the Complainant’s choice against its obligation to provide a safe, non-discriminatory environment for all students and employees, including the Complainant. The Complainant should understand that the University’s ability to meaningfully address the incident may be limited.

Although rare, there may be times when the University cannot honor a Complainant’s request and the Title IX Coordinator may determine that a formal complaint is necessary in order to provide a safe, non-discriminatory environment for all community members. When weighing such a request by the Complainant, the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator(s) will consider a range of safety factors outlined more fully in the Sexual Misconduct Policy.

If certain safety factors (as outlined more fully in the Sexual Misconduct Policy) are present, the Title IX Coordinator would file a formal complaint allowing the University to investigate and, if appropriate, pursue the grievance process and/or involve the law enforcement agency with jurisdiction. In such cases, the University will inform the Complainant and will share the University’s reasoning for proceeding with a formal complaint.

The Complainant may still decide whether and how much they want to be involved in any next steps. The University will only share information with those needing to know in order to conduct the investigation and facilitate the University’s response to the report of sexual misconduct.

 

Although the University encourages a Complainant to talk with someone directly, the University does provide an anonymous online reporting option, www.villanova.ethicspoint.com, and an anonymous phone reporting option at (855-236-1443).

All anonymous reports of sexual misconduct submitted through these options will be referred to the Title IX Coordinator and will prompt an initial investigation. However, the University’s ability to respond effectively may be limited by the level of information provided and/or the anonymity of the complaint.

Yes, you can withdraw your formal complaint at any time. In most cases, the University will cease the grievance process; however, if extenuating circumstances or possible ongoing concern may exist, the Title IX Coordinator may file a formal complaint. You may still decide whether and how much you want to be involved in any next steps.

The time frame for resolution begins with the filing of a formal complaint. Generally speaking, the University will complete the administrative investigation and resolution of all formal complaints within a reasonably prompt manner, and no longer than ninety (90) business days after the filing of the formal complaint. However, the time frame could be impacted by factors such as the complexity of the investigation, the scope of the allegation, the parties’ schedules and availability, the academic calendar and any concurrent criminal investigation. In the event that the investigation and resolution require additional time, the University will notify all parties of this need and best efforts will be made to complete the process in a timely manner. In no case will these time frames delay University-provided support services, resources, or other measures.

The Complainant and Respondent have equal rights to review all investigative materials in advance of a hearing. The parties must have an advisor present to conduct cross-examination of the other party and witnesses. If a party does not have an advisor for a hearing, the University will provide one for them. During the hearing, the parties may present opening and closing statements, relevant documentation gathered during the investigation and relevant witnesses. A hearing panel will hear the case and make a determination of responsibility.  

Complainants and Respondent have the equal right to appeal for a new hearing based on procedural irregularity, new evidence or conflict of interest or bias. They may also appeal for review of sanction/discipline if they believe the sanction/discipline imposed is disproportionate to the violation.

At any time after the filing of a formal complaint and prior to adjudication of the matter, either the Complainant or Respondent may request informal resolution in lieu of formal resolution. The parties are not required to attempt informal resolution, and informal resolution is not appropriate for all types of alleged conduct. Informal resolution is not permitted for any complaint of sexual misconduct made by a student against an employee. Once the informal resolution reaches an agreed-upon conclusion, which must be approved by the University and acknowledged by the parties in writing, the matter will be considered resolved and not eligible for further informal or formal resolution.  

IMPORTANT CONTACTS

24/7 RESOURCES:

Sexual Assault Resource Coordinator: 484-343-6028

Student Health Center: 610-519-4070

Public Safety: 610-519-4444

Employee Health Advocate: 866-799-2728

CONFIDENTIAL RESOURCES:

University Counseling Center: 610-519-4050

Clergy in a pastoral capacity