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Victim's Rights, Reporting, and Resources

The Ombudsperson's Role in Sexual Misconduct Cases

Be aware that, if you are reporting an incident of sexual misconduct, it will likely be necessary for the Ombudsperson to refer you directly to the Executive Director for Human Resources or the Title IX Coordinator. However, the Ombudsperson can help you explore your options.

If you prefer to go directly to the Executive Director of Human Resources (who, at this time, is also the Title IX Coordinator), she can be reached at 301-696-3556.

Victim's Rights, Reporting, and Resources

If you are a victim: your rights, how you can report, resources for you

If you want to make a report you should contact the Title IX Coordinator/Executive Director of Human Resources (301-696-3556; wuenschel@hood.edu). If you want to discuss your options and rights confidentially, please contact one of the support persons below.

  • The Health Center: 301-696-3439
  • The Counseling Center: 301-696-3440
  • The Office of the Dean of the Chapel: 301-696-3436

Heartly House, Frederick's local domestic violence and sexual assault resource, offers:

  • The (24-hour) Crisis Hotline 301-662-8800 (Counselors and group sessions in Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence

You should know that Title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972 ("Title IX") is a Federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities. All colleges that receive Federal funds, including Hood College, must comply with Title IX. Under this law discrimination on the basis of sex can include sexual harassment or sexual violence, such as rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion. For more information on your rights under Title IX, click on this link to view the US Department of Education's Office on Civil Rights' website.

Your options

If you have experienced a sexual assault, you may need to make decisions about your physical and emotional well-being, as well as perhaps filing reports with the College or law enforcement. The following is an overview, but you might find it useful to speak with a counselor or a trusted loved one about your options. It is important that what you decide feels right to you and that you understand the potential outcomes and consequences of your choices.

Counseling Services: Counseling services may be obtained through the Counseling Center or Heartly House. You may choose individual or group counseling to help you through the process of making decisions, accessing support, working through feelings, and exploring the impact and meaning of your experiences.

If the assault occurred recently, it is very important to seek assistance as soon as possible. Still, survivors of sexual violence can experience the effects of an incident in different ways over extended periods of time. These counseling resources are available to assist you at any point during the healing process. Heartly House, especially, serves as a resource for issues related to healthy relationships, emotional, verbal and physical abuse, sexual violence, gender issues and personal safety. All services provided by the Counseling Center are confidential (except in cases of child abuse or threats of homicide or suicide) and free of charge to all current Hood students.

Support/Resource Person: When you make contact with a College official (whether a confidential resource, or a person who is required to report certain information about the incident), you will be offered the opportunity to have a College-appointed resource person assist you in working through the situation.

As a victim, you are entitled to:

  • A resource person who can listen;
  • A resource person who can assist you in understanding and navigating the process;
  • A resource person who can help you understand how this may affect you and your family;
  • A resource person who can connect you with appropriate campus and off-campus resources.

Your support person may help in many ways, including:

  • He or she may attend meetings with you (such as investigative conversations, housing relocation discussions, resolution agreement discussions, grievance hearings, etc.) as a support person.
  • He or she can help you review and understand documents and materials from the investigation, the final report, and any sanctioning agreements, as requested.
  • He or she may provide you with general support. He or she may help you to manage any immediate or ongoing separation needs, as necessary
  • He or she can provide information and referral to additional College or community resources for additional support.

College Grievance Procedures: Hood's Prevention and Resolution of Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Conduct Policy (55), or PAR, describes many forms of conduct that are prohibited at Hood College. Students, faculty, and staff may file a report with the Executive Director for Human Resources or with the Title IX Coordinator if they have been the victim of an action that is against this campus policy. Though it is recommended that you opt to file such a report, you are under no obligation to do so.

Any member of the Hood community who chooses to file a report with the College will be offered the assistance of a College support person who can help with navigating the process.

If you chose to file a report and also desire confidentiality, you should understand that the College is obligated, when it receives such reports, to report statistics and other information to external bodies, and, in cases of immediate threats of physical harm, or where a crime may have been committed, to investigate and to do what is necessary to provide a safe environment for the victim and for others. This may mean that confidentiality must be breached.

A report of sexual misconduct will be investigated as appropriate and, if it is warranted, a hearing process that will be overseen by a grievance board composed of faculty and staff (or faculty only, if the respondent is a faculty member) will determine, using the "preponderance of evidence" standard, whether the incident did or did not take place. If the board finds that it did, the Provost may impose sanctions that may include, but are not limited to, no-contact orders, educational mandates, suspensions, or dismissals from the University. A report may be made anytime up to a year after the incident. The victim has the option of ending the investigation and hearing process at any time, if he or she so chooses.

Click here for the full text of Hood's PAR policy.

Criminal Investigation/Prosecution: The College encourages reporting the incident to the police as soon as possible; but, even if you choose not to report immediately (and it is YOUR choice), a report can be made later. Reporting an assault does not mean that you have to go to court, but it does begin the legal process if the decision to prosecute is made at a later date. Criminal prosecution punishes the offender and helps deter others from committing similar acts. The Hood Department of Campus Safety works with the Frederick Police Department, and can help you navigate the investigation and criminal court processes. Even if prosecution does not occur, the police report and relevant evidence may be useful during the College's judicial procedure or for other victims who may file similar reports against the offender in the future.

The State of Maryland guarantees certain rights to victims. For more information on victims' rights, click on this link to go to the Maryland Crime Victims' Resource Center.

Civil Lawsuits: Victims may hire a private attorney to file a lawsuit for damages against the perpetrator. Many attorneys take cases on a contingency basis and their fees are an agreed portion of any compensation that is collected from the perpetrator. This process takes place in a local civil (not criminal) court. The purpose of the lawsuit is to financially compensate the victim for the wrong done to her or him. This can include financial compensation for damages caused, such as medical or counseling expenses, loss of income, tuition, or pain and suffering. In a civil case, the standard of proof is lower and a jury does not need to reach a unanimous decision for the victim to prevail. Additionally, third parties such as a business or a person who failed to provide reasonable safety can be sued through this type of lawsuit. Civil lawsuits can be pursued alone, in addition to, or after, a criminal case.

Deciding Whether to Report to Law Enforcement

Rape and many other types of sexual assault (such as the use of drugs or alcohol to impair the victim) are very serious crimes. Yet most sexual assaults are not reported to the police and many sexual offenders will rape again. Although this might be a factor in your decision about reporting the assault, it may not be your only consideration.

The decision to file a police report can be one of the hardest decisions you will make after the assault. Especially if you know the offender, it is understandable if you are uncertain about reporting the incident. If the offender is your spouse or partner, you might feel pressure not to report the crime because of your relationship. This can also be true for victims who are raped by an acquaintance, a "friend," or a co-worker. You may be afraid of what might happen if you report the rape; you may worry about the trial or the publicity of a court case, what others might say, or if reporting the sexual assault will cause problems in your relationships. Many victims say that reporting is the last thing they want to do right after being attacked. That's perfectly understandable: reporting can seem invasive, time consuming and difficult.

Some people find that reporting the assault is a way to regain some sense of control by doing something about the violent crime that was committed against them. Reporting may also help to ensure that you receive the most immediate and comprehensive professional assistance that is available. The police will assist you in getting specialized medical care, gathering and preserving evidence, and resolving concerns about your personal safety and security. Reporting and prosecuting the assailant are essential to the prevention of additional assaults and the protection of other potential victims. Most sex offenders, if unchecked, will repeat their actions. If an assault is not reported, the assailant cannot be apprehended and the risk to others may be increased.

If you do choose to report the assault, call 911 (or ask a friend to call) to report the assault to police. You may also visit a hospital emergency room or your own doctor and ask them to call the police for you. During the report and any physical exam, you have the right to be accompanied by a support person of your choosing.

Throughout the process, you will be thought of as a witness to the crime and you will probably have to testify in the case if it goes to court. Some victims find this process helpful in their recovery, especially if the offender is found guilty. However, you need to understand that there is the possibility that your offender will not be arrested or go to trial.

The criminal justice process begins when you file a police report. The police will investigate the crime and present the case to the prosecutor. It is the prosecutor's decision if the case goes to trial. If the crime occurred on campus you may make a report to the Department of Campus Safety, and they may refer it to the Frederick Police Department. If the incident occurred off campus it should be reported directly to the Frederick police. You can also report the offense to the College for a possible grievance action.

If you choose to report:

  • You may withdraw your involvement with law enforcement (or with the College grievance procedure, or both) at any time.
  • You should consent to a Sexual Assault Evidence Exam within 72 hours (although some may be completed even later).
  • You can--and are encouraged--to have a victim advocate stay with you at the hospital.
  • You will be interviewed by law enforcement, medical staff, an investigator (detective), and possibly the prosecutor (your attorney).
  • The examination is conducted at no cost to you.

If you choose not to report:

  • You will not automatically receive an Evidence Exam, but you may obtain one, paid for by the State of Maryland.
  • You are encouraged to receive a general medical exam at the Health Center, Frederick Memorial Hospital, or at a private clinic.
  • Remember that you MAY change your mind and decide to file a report with the police: your evidence will not be as substantial without the Evidence Exam.
  • You should seek the support of some kind of victim service, sexual assault crisis center, counselor, or victim advocate.

Medical Considerations

It's important for you to get medical care and to be tested for sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy, even if you think you were not injured. Keep in mind that sexual assault can cause injuries, often internal, that aren't visible. Many hospitals have equipment that can detect such hidden injuries.

Talking to your doctor about the assault: if you disclose that you have been sexually assaulted and/or if you answer questions in a way that implies sexual assault (e.g., "I don't remember what happened," or "I was too drunk.") may have taken place, the medical professional is required to contact the police department. This means that the police must be called either while you are there or shortly after, and that the incident must be documented, including your name, your location, and the perpetrator's name, if known. It does NOT require a formal police investigation or even that you talk to police.

You have a CHOICE about what to disclose: You may receive a medical exam to check for injuries and STDs without disclosing an assault. This will allow you to avoid involvement with the police. You DO NOT have to answer any of the specific questions that would lead to reporting.

If you choose to disclose the assault to your doctor: There are many different types of reports that you can choose to file, including, but not limited to:

  • Report to the Health Center or Frederick Memorial Hospital. This report only requires that the police be contacted and the incident be documented. It does not require a formal investigation and/or for you to speak to the police.
  • Complaint to the Executive Director of Human Resources or the Title IX Coordinator: If alleged perpetrator is a member of the campus community, making this report enables the College to respond to immediate threats, to see that you have a safe environment, and also enables the grievance resolution procedure, should wish to pursue it. If the grievance board finds that the incident DID occur as charged, the perpetrator may be disciplined, up to and including suspension/expulsion if he or she is a student,or separation from the College if he or she is a College employee.
  • Report to the Department of Campus Safety. This enables the College to respond to immediate threats, to see that you have a safe environment, and enables the grievance resolution procedure, should wish to pursue it; Campus Safety can also connect you with the Frederick Police Department, should you wish to file a formal report with them.
  • Formal police report: You will speak to the police, a formal report is filed, and a criminal investigation occurs.

Still have questions?

The information presented on this page provides a general overview of some of the options available to you. It is likely that you will have questions related to your own personal experience that are not answered here. It may be helpful for you to talk with someone knowledgeable about different options as you are trying to make some of these important decisions.

If you are uncertain about your options and rights, contact a counselor. Hood College support persons are available at:

  • The Health Center: 301-696-3439
  • The Counseling Center: 301-696-3440
    In addition, Heartly House offers its 24-hour Crisis Hotline (301-662-8800).