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Sexual Misconduct by Faculty/Staff

Last Revised: September 19, 2016

This policy is applicable to sexual misconduct reports filed by a student against a faculty or staff member. This policy is not applicable to reports filed against another student. The grievance officer shall be a faculty or staff member designated by the Title IX Coordinator for Students.

The grievance officer will review formal reports, as well as confidential reports if the Title IX Coordinator for Students has determined that a confidentiality request cannot be honored, and any related investigative materials. The grievance officer may conduct further investigation of the report if she or he deems necessary. The scope of any investigation shall be in the sole discretion of the grievance officer. The investigation may include, but is not limited to, meeting with the parties, talking with witnesses, and reviewing any supporting documents. If the grievance officer desires, he or she may appoint an ad hoc committee to assist in further investigation of the complaint and/or advise the grievance officer on whether the Sexual Misconduct Policy was violated. The grievance officer shall not be bound by the committee's recommendation.

If the grievance officer considers the report and investigative materials to indicate a probable violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy, the matter will be reviewed as described below. The University's actions are not dependent on the initiation or outcome of criminal charges. Proceedings may be carried out prior to, simultaneously with, or following civil or criminal proceedings.

If the grievance officer determines that the allegations in the student's ("complainant") report do warrant further consideration, then the grievance officer shall email a notice describing the behavior that allegedly violates the Sexual Misconduct Policy and investigative materials to the person against whom the complaint is made ("respondent"). All emails will be sent to the parties' pepperdine.edu email accounts.

The faculty or staff member respondent shall be given fourteen (14) calendar days from receipt of the notice and investigative materials to return a written response and any supporting materials to the grievance officer. Necessary extensions may be granted at the discretion of the grievance officer. A copy of the respondent's response, investigative materials, and any supporting materials submitted by respondent will be emailed to the complainant.

Within twenty (20) business days of receipt of the written response, the grievance officer shall make a decision by a preponderance of the evidence based on the report, the response, and any other information the grievance officer deems relevant. A copy of the decision will be emailed to both parties. If a sanction is recommended against a staff member, the decision will be forwarded to Human Resources for further action. If a sanction is recommended against a faculty member, the decision will be forwarded to the dean of the faculty member's school for further action.

Either the staff member's senior leader within the staff member's unit or the dean of the faculty member's school ("reviewing officer") shall serve as the "reviewing officer" for all final appeal for decisions in sexual misconduct cases. Any party may submit a written request for appeal to the reviewing officer within seven (7) calendar days from the date of the decision. The request for appeal must specifically set forth all grounds for appeal. General dissatisfaction with the outcome of the decision or an appeal for mercy is not an appropriate basis for an appeal. The nonappealing party will be emailed a copy of the appeal and may email a response to the reviewing officer within seven (7) calendar days from the date of the grievance officer's email. If submitted, the appealing party will be provided a copy of the response.
The reviewing officer shall be limited to addressing only the following questions:

  1. Insufficient information to support the decision.
  2. New information, sufficient to alter a decision, or other relevant facts not submitted to the grievance officer, because such information and/or facts were not known to the person appealing at the time of submission to the grievance officer.
  3. Procedural irregularity in the proceedings that undermined the respondent's ability to present a defense or the complainant's ability to present relevant information supporting his or her report.
  4. Bias or conflict of interest by the grievance officer or investigator.
  5. Inappropriateness of the sanction for the violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy.

Generally, the appellate process does not require a hearing, nor does it require the reviewing officer to make personal contact with the parties or the grievance officer. The reviewing officer may, but is not required to, convene an ad hoc appeal committee to assist in making a recommendation regarding the appeal. The reviewing officer shall not be bound by the committee's recommendation.

Within twenty (20) business days from the date of receipt of the written request for appeal, the reviewing officer shall make a final decision based on the submitted materials and any other information the grievance officer deems relevant. The reviewing officer may affirm, reverse, or modify the grievance officer's recommendation. The reviewing officer may also return the case to the grievance officer for further consideration. The reviewing officer's decision shall be final and effective immediately. A copy of the decision letter will be emailed to the parties' pepperdine.edu accounts.

All written decisions made and materials produced in connection with a grievance conducted under this policy shall be retained by the grievance officer for seven years from the date of the student's graduation.