Options Following Sexual Misconduct/Assault
Gallaudet University strongly encourages anyone who has been the victim of sexual misconduct or sexual assault to file a police report for his or her own protection and that of the entire campus community. However, there are several additional options available. Students are also advised to seek medical attention as soon as possible ideally no later than 72 hours of a sexual misconduct/assault. Students may choose one or more options to create the most effective course for them.
The Department of Public Safety (DPS)is the University’s first responder to reports of crime on campus and will provide immediate assistance to a person reporting an act of sexual violence. Services available through DPS include: emergency response, documentation, on-campus investigation, support, and referral to additional resources and services. DPS will inform students making a report that the reporting person that the local police department is the vehicle through which they may pursue a criminal investigation.
Definition of Sexual Violence
In general, sexual violence is any physical sexual contact (intercourse, penetration of the genitals, or indecent contact) by a person, without the consent of the complainant (that is, the individual to whom the contact is directed). It includes physical sexual contact that involves any of the following:
- Forcible compulsion;
- Threat of forcible compulsion that would prevent resistance by a complainant of reasonable resolution;
- The complainant is unconscious or the person knows that the complainant is unaware that the intercourse, penetration, or indecent contact is occurring;
- The person has substantially impaired the complainant’s power to appraise or control his or her conduct by administering or employing, without the knowledge of the complainant, drugs, intoxicants, or other means for the purpose of preventing resistance;
- The complainant is unable to consent due to temporary or permanent incapacity or impairment, mental or physical. "Incapacity or impairment" may include, but is not limited to, being under the influence of alcohol or drugs to a degree which renders the person incapable of consent.
Additional definitions regarding Sexual Violence, Sexual Misconduct, Harassment, and Stalking can be found in the Student Handbook or online at
Medical-Legal Evidence Collection
A person who has experienced sexual misconduct/assault (particularly rape, forcible oral copulation, or sodomy) is encouraged to request collection of medical-legal evidence. Collection of evidence entails interaction with police and a police report. Prompt collection of physical evidence is essential should a person later decide to pursue criminal prosecution and/or a civil action. If the sexual misconduct/assault occurred within 72 hours, a free and confidential exam can still be administered at local hospitals. However, the sooner sexual misconduct/assault is reported, the more likely evidence will remain. To help preserve evidence, the victim is encouraged not to:
- bathe or douche;
- drink any liquids;
- smoke, eat, or brush their teeth if oral contact has occurred;
- in addition, if clothes are changed, soiled clothes should be placed in a paper bag (plastic can destroy crucial evidence).
Medical Care/Emergency Room Examination
An individual who has been the victim of sexual misconduct or sexual assault is urged to seek medical evaluation as soon as possible, ideally within 72 hours of the incident. Any person who has been the victim of sexual misconduct or sexual assault may go directly to the emergency room of any local hospital for medical attention. Students who are reporting an immediate assault should be accompanied to a health care facility of their choice for treatment and collection of evidence. Options for transportation to a local hospital can be arranged by the DPS or the Office of Residence Life.
Sexual assaults, for which individuals seek medical treatment, must be reported to the appropriate police unit by health care officials. However, students are not required to criminally prosecute the case or file a police report, unless the sexual assault survivor is a minor.
Students also can seek treatment or advice at the University's Student Health Services for any medical concerns, including: physical exams, treatment of sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy testing, and/or to obtain emergency contraception. All medical information and services are protected by privileged reporting.
The Department of Public Safety will also provide:
- Assistance with emergency rape crisis treatment and emergency medical services, including accompanying the student to the hospital, local police, or the Dean of Student Affairs Office;
- Assistance, guidance, and support throughout the University disciplinary process and/or the criminal justice process if the reporting person chooses this course of action;
- Advice and assistance in obtaining a protective order from off-campus authorities;
- Assistance in addressing academic concerns and obtaining academic support;
- Assistance in identifying alternate living arrangements, such as moving the reporting person or alleged perpetrator to a different residence hall, if reasonably available;
- Assistance in contacting other University offices for assistance as appropriate (e.g., Student Health Services, Mental Health Center, Campus Ministry, and the Dean of Students Affairs Office);
- Assistance in contacting community resources such as rape crisis centers or support groups, if desired;
- Assistance in contacting the appropriate police department;
- an escort, if requested;
- General support and assistance as needed and requested.
Confidentiality and Choosing a Reporting Resource
Gallaudet University will preserve student confidentiality to the extent possible and allowed by law. The degree to which confidentiality can be protected, however, depends upon whether or not the individual to whom the sexual misconduct/assault took place is legally authorized to withhold this information. The professional being consulted should make these limits clear before any disclosure of facts. When choosing a reporting resource, please consider the following information.
Privileged Reporting Resource
Privileged reporting consists of those communications that legally cannot be disclosed to any other person without the reporting person’s consent, except under very limited circumstances such as an imminent threat of danger to self or others or if the victim is a minor.
Examples of Privileged Reporting Resources:
- University Mental Health Center staff
- University Student Health Service staff
Limited Confidential Reporting Resource
Limited confidential reporting consists of those communications that are subject to the privacy requirements of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The University will exercise sensitivity with respect to the privacy concerns of the reporting person; however, the privacy interests of the reporting source must be balanced with the University’s legal obligations, its need to protect the University community, and to ensure that appropriate disciplinary processes are implemented.
Examples of Designated Limited Confidential Reporting Resources:
- Residence Life and Housing
- Student Conduct
Clery Act Reporting
The Clery Act requires the University to designate University staff members who have significant responsibility for student or campus activities as Campus Security Authorities (CSAs). At Gallaudet University, CSAs include: the Dean of Student Affairs; most managerial staff in Student Affairs; Residence Life staff, including resident assistants and CRE’s; advisors to student organizations; and athletic coaches. CSAs are required to provide information regarding any report of sexual misconduct/ assault to the University Department of Public Safety to be included in the University’s Annual Report of Crime Statistics and, if appropriate, for the purpose of issuing a crime alert or other emergency notification. The victim’s name and other personally identifying information are NOT included in any crime alert or emergency notification.
Requests for information made to the University pursuant to the District of Columbia public records laws shall be responded to by the University in accordance with the requirements of those laws, subject to all applicable privacy limitations imposed by other law, including but not limited to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA.”)
Filing a Sexual Misconduct/Sexual Assault Report with DPS
Public Safety/Fact Finding Investigations
For a sexual misconduct/assault that took place on-campus, students can contact The Gallaudet University Department of Public Safety directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-651-5555 to file a report. University police can assist in notifying the local police if the student chooses. University special police officers will respond quickly and with sensitivity upon notification of an assault. Students who are victims of off-campus sexual misconduct/assault who want to file a sexual misconduct/assault can file a report with the Metropolitan Police Department, or if it is an emergency, 911. DPS can facilitate interviews and interpreters if the interviews take place on campus.
Reporting is best done as soon as possible after the incident, but it may be done at any time. Students can make their report to any CSA. The University will assist students with reporting sexual misconduct or assault and in obtaining medical support and information regarding available legal and conduct resources as well as counseling and support services. If requested by the student, and if reasonably available, the University will assist the student in changing her/his academic or living situation after the alleged assault.
Typically it is the reporting person’s decision on how to proceed once the incident has been reported to DPS. The University encourages the reporting of sexual violence to local law enforcement but in most cases respects the rights of students to choose whether the police are notified. When requested, investigators from the DPS can accompany a student to the police and will assist in filing a report with the police.
An investigation of the incident will not occur without the consent of the reporting person, except in cases where the circumstances suggest a continuing risk to the safety of members of the University community may exist. Likewise, the police will not be called without the consent of the reporting person, absent the determination that an on-going risk exists. However, if the reporting person requests confidentiality or asks that the complaint not be pursued, the University may take reasonable steps to investigate and respond to the complaint consistent with the request for confidentiality or request not to pursue an investigation.
The reporting person may choose to pursue criminal prosecution, University disciplinary action, or both, or may decide to take no action. The reporting person will be supported in any decisions made regarding whether to pursue criminal or disciplinary action. As stated above, if the University determines there is an on-going risk to the community, or if there are other circumstances deemed appropriate by the University, an investigation may still occur.
The Director of Public Safety or his/her designee will oversee the fact-finding portion of all investigations of reported sexual violence. The Department is committed to conducting all fact-finding investigations in a thorough, fair and objective manner, respecting the serious and sensitive nature of the incident for all those involved. Throughout this investigation, DPS personnel will endeavor to safeguard the confidentiality of both the reporting person and the accused. At the conclusion of a fact-finding investigation, findings are shared with appropriate administrative departments, including those administrative departments empowered to act on violations of University policy.
As a reminder, reporting an assault or misconduct to The Gallaudet University Department of Public Safety or other law enforcement or campus security authorities does not require the filing of criminal charges, but it allows all support systems to be put in place. Choosing not to pursue University or criminal action, however, does not remove the responsibility of the University to investigate and/or take action. Students who choose to notify police should be aware of the importance of the immediacy of reporting the incident and the importance of preserving physical evidence at the assault scene as well as on the person assaulted. Physical evidence can support criminal charges leading to a successful prosecution.
Sexual Violence Education and Prevention Strategies
Gallaudet University is committed to the prevention of sexual violence through education and awareness. Throughout the year, programs designed to promote sexual violence/misconduct awareness and prevention are presented by a variety of campus resources including New Student Orientation, Health and Wellness, peer health advisors and other Gallaudet students, and DPS. The University also promotes participation of student groups in prevention activities, through training provided in Residence Life, Athletics, and the Office of Campus Activities, among others. Prevention programs stress the added risks involved when the use of alcohol and/or illegal drugs is present. Incoming first year students, as part of their orientation, attend programs that cover the topic of sexual violence. The educational programs review strategies for prevention and inform students of options and resources available should such violence occur.
Filing a Complaint with the Office of Student Conduct
If the accused is a student at Gallaudet University, students are urged to file a complaint with the Office of Student Conduct . Students are not required to file a police report to pursue a complaint with the Office of Student Conduct.
Although procedural requirements are not as formal as those existing in the courts of law, the Student Conduct process provides procedural safeguards for accusers and accused alike. Both the accuser and the accused are entitled to the same opportunity for access to information that will be used at the hearing, to present relevant witnesses and other evidence and to have others present during the hearing. Confidential medical/counseling records and information regarding the victim’s sexual history will not be provided to the accused and is not admissible at any disciplinary proceeding. To ensure fairness, the following rights apply to both the accuser and the accused:
- To be informed of the University’s conduct process.
- The presence of an advocate/advisor of her/his choice during the judicial process as designated in the applicable University rule. The advocate/advisor may advise the accuser but may not participate in the hearing or address the board unless responding to a direct question from the chairperson to the advocate/advisor.
- Information of the outcome of the judicial process.
- Protection under applicable privacy laws (e.g. FERPA)
Regardless of whether criminal charges are filed, students found to be responsible for sexual misconduct may be subject to University judicial sanctions, up to and including dismissal. The judicial process shall be conducted in accordance with University policy.
For more information about the Office of Student Conduct process, see:
Declining to File a Report
The student has the right not to file a report. However, students are highly encouraged to seek medical attention, including counseling, either on or off campus. Students who wish to file a report at a later date may do so by contacting the Dean of Affairs Office. Students also may file a report with DPS. Please note, a delay in reporting could weaken or result in a loss of evidence used to determine whether an individual is responsible for a sexual misconduct/sexual assault.