Complainants may choose to pursue the below options:
If you have been the victim of sexual assault, domestic/relationship violence, stalking, or another form of sexual misconduct like voyeurism (a “peeping tom”), the University encourages you to consider making a report to police to assure your safety and / or to explore your options, including pursuing a criminal investigation. Reporting to police does not guarantee criminal prosecution, since the state’s attorneys (prosecutors) will ultimately have to decide whether there is enough evidence to move forward with your case. However, if you file a police report and want to pursue a criminal case, the police will conduct an investigation. It is important to consider that perpetrators can be repeat offenders, so reporting the behavior to police increases the chances that a perpetrator will be recognized as such, increasing the safety of our campus as a whole.
Which police agency will investigate my case?
It depends on what kind of crime it is, and where the crime occurred. Any crime that happens on the UVM campus can be reported to UVM Police Services. If the incident occurred someplace other than the UVM campus, you should report it to the police agency in the town where it occurred. If you need help figuring out where to report a crime, Advocates at HOPE Works or staff at UVM Police Services can help you to identify which police agency to report it to. Often times, UVM Police Services can also assist you in making the report to the appropriate police agency. If you were sexually assaulted, chances are that your case will be referred to a special county investigative unit for sexual assaults. For example, the Chittenden Unit for Special Investigations or “CUSI,” is the special investigative unit for Chittenden County, which includes Burlington and the UVM campus.
What will the process be like if I report to police?
If you call the police when an incident is still occurring or has just occurred, you may talk to a uniformed police officer first. They will make sure that you are safe (including getting medical attention, if needed). The officer will ask for some basic information from you about what happened, and may also ask to collect evidence in appropriate circumstances. After this initial meeting, your case will most likely be referred to a detective for further investigation. As described above, CUSI is a county-wide unit of detectives who are specially trained to investigate crimes like sexual assaults, and they investigate most sexual assaults that occur in our county. At the CUSI level, a detective will probably interview you, the perpetrator, and any other witnesses involved in your case. When the case is complete, CUSI will generate a report. If the detective feels that there is enough evidence to charge the perpetrator, the most important parts of the report will be put into an affidavit, which is a sworn report that is sent to the local criminal court in support of the charges. At around the same time, the perpetrator will be charged with the appropriate crime.
Will my report to police be private?
While your case is under investigation, it is exempt from the Vermont Public Records Act, and information that you share with police will not be made public. However, it will become a public record after the investigation is complete. That does not mean that the police will put identifying information about you and your case in a public place; it just means that if someone specifically requested information about your case, the police would probably have to give it to them once the investigation is complete. If your case results in criminal charges, the affidavit used to charge the perpetrator is also a public record, and anyone can request a copy from the court.
Will my parents or other family members find out?
As long as you are not a minor, no one is obligated to inform your parents or other loved ones about the case. If you are close with your family, though, you should consider telling them about what happened in whatever way is most comfortable for you. Family or good friends can be a really important support system, and it is a good idea to let at least a few people you are close with know about what happened, so that they can provide support and help you through a difficult time.
What will happen to the perpetrator?
If they are charged criminally, they will be arraigned on the charges. In very severe cases, the perpetrator may have to stay in jail to await trial. But in most cases, they will probably be released under conditions that the judge imposes, which will usually include a condition that they have no contact with you. It is very important that you let the police know immediately if the perpetrator is contacting or harassing you in any way.
If you fear for your safety and believe that the perpetrator may try to harm you, you can apply for a “relief from abuse order,” which will impose additional restrictions on the perpetrator’s ability to have any type of contact with you. If you feel you need a relief from abuse order, you can contact an Advocate through HOPE Works online or by calling (802) 863-1236 or 1-800-489-7273, and they can assist you with the process.
If the perpetrator is a student or employee of the University, UVM must first know about the charges before it can take any action internally. The process for an internal UVM investigation is discussed in greater detail in the next section.
A NON-CRIMINAL INTERNAL UVM RESOLUTION PROCESS
UVM also encourages you to make a report of the incident to the University Title IX Coordinator. UVM strives to create a safe campus environment, and any violation of the Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct Policy (PDF) has a negative impact on the campus community. However, it is difficult for the University to address problems like sexual misconduct unless victims are willing to come forward. Reports to the Title IX Coordinator can be made by emailing TitleIX@uvm.edu or by filing a Bias, Discrimination, and Harassment Reporting Form.
When you make a report of sexual misconduct, discrimination, or harassment, the first step is an intake, which includes providing you with information about support resources and reporting options, and more information about the Title IX Investigation and Resolution options and processes. These are described in detail on the AAEO FAQs Website and in this guide: What Happens When I Report Sexual Misconduct (opens a PDF).
If you would like, you can pursue both a criminal and an internal investigation. UVM’s AAEO Office will try to coordinate its internal investigation with the related police investigation as much as possible. To avoid interfering with the criminal investigation, the AAEO investigator may ask you to sign a waiver, which will delay the internal investigation until the criminal investigation is complete. If you decide not to sign it, the AAEO investigation may have to occur at the same time as the criminal investigation. Under some circumstances, this could interfere with the criminal investigation.
If you disclose an incident of sexual misconduct to a UVM Reporter, they must notify the Title IX Coordinator, whose office will reach out to you to offer support and resources. The Title IX Coordinator is responsible for making sure that the University complies with its obligations to address incidents of sexual misconduct appropriately, and that the University does everything that it can 1) to minimize the impact of any alleged sexual misconduct on the educational and/or work environment, and 2) to prevent it from happening again.
It is important to understand that you are not obligated to pursue an investigation or resolution process to work with the Title IX Coordinator or receive support and/or interim measures (such as schedule or housing adjustments). In most cases, if you decide that you do not want to pursue a formal investigation, nothing further will happen.
However, there are some circumstances where the University will move forward with an investigation and conduct process even without your cooperation. Some examples include 1) cases where the University is aware that the perpetrator has been involved in other incidents of sexual misconduct, and 2) cases where the perpetrator’s conduct was particularly severe, and therefore poses a continued threat to the University community.
Many employees are also required by federal law to file a Campus Security Authority Incident Report with UVM Police Services, without revealing your identity, so that the University can maintain and compile accurate crime statistics for the campus. While you are encouraged to file a criminal complaint if you have been the victim of sexual misconduct, this report is solely to comply with federal laws, and your name will not be shared with Police Services if you wish to remain anonymous.
It is important to know that Title IX prohibits retaliation against complainants and witnesses who participate in investigations of sexual misconduct. UVM will take steps to prevent retaliation and will take strong responsive action if retaliation occurs. While it is your right not to participate in an internal or criminal investigation, refusal to participate in any investigation may limit the University’s ability to respond to allegations of sexual misconduct.
In appropriate circumstances, the University may provide interim measures (such as changes in room or class assignments, no contact orders, and extensions for completing exams or other course work) to both complainants and respondents in sexual misconduct cases. The Title IX Coordinator can assist with arranging interim measures and support. Call (802) 656-3368 or email TitleIX@uvm.edu to request interim measures and support services.
For confidential support and advocacy, you can reach an Advocate by contacting HOPE Works online or by calling (802) 863-1236 or 1-800-489-7273. The University also has its own Counseling Center where you can speak with a confidential mental health counselor. The counselors there are an excellent resource, and are available to meet with you confidentially as needed.
If I was drinking when the incident I want to report occurred, and I am not 21, will I get in trouble?
No. As a general rule, UVM does not pursue student conduct violations related to drug use or to underage drinking against victims, perpetrators, or witnesses who cooperate in a sexual misconduct investigation. There are some exceptions; for example, if a perpetrator intentionally uses drugs or alcohol to subdue a victim, s/he can and will be held accountable. Likewise, if a group or organization affiliated with UVM knowingly serves alcohol to minors or provides drugs resulting in a violation of the Sexual Misconduct Policy, the organization or its representatives can be held accountable.
Does it cost anything to make a report?
No. Making a report to the police and/or internally to the AAEO office is completely free.