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Spring
2018
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Sexual Assault FAQs

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What should I do if I or a friend may have been sexually assaulted on campus?

You should seek medical attention from a hospital emergency room or your primary care doctor as soon as possible.

You can also:

  • Make a police report
  • Get an ambulance by calling 911
  • Make a report to Campus Security (dispatch): extension 7120 on all campuses or 916-660-7120
  • Make a report to Cameron Abbott, the campus Title IX Coordinator, particularly if the incident involves a Sierra College employee. 916-660-7006.
    • If you wish to pursue a complaint against the alleged perpetrator, or if you wish to discuss your options, you are encouraged to consult with the District's Title IX Coordinator.

What should I do about preserving evidence of a sexual assault?

  • Physical evidence of a criminal sexual assault must be collected from the survivor's person within 72 hours. Some evidence can often be obtained from towels, sheets, clothes, etc. for much longer periods of time.
  • If you believe you have been sexually assaulted, you should go to a medical facility capable of providing collection of medical/legal evidence in cases of sexual assault, and has specially trained staff to do so before washing yourself or your clothing. You can contact your local law enforcement agency or a crisis hot-line for assistance. Having the evidence collected in this manner will help keep all options available, but will not obligate you to any course of action. Collecting evidence can assist authorities in pursuing criminal charges, should you decide later to exercise it.
  • If you have changed clothing since the assault, bring the clothing you had on at the time of the assault with you to the hospital in a clean, sanitary container such as a clean paper grocery bag or wrapped in a clean sheet (plastic containers do not breathe, and may render evidence useless). If you have not changed clothes, bring a change of clothes with you to the hospital, if possible, as they will likely keep the clothes you are wearing as evidence.

What should I do if I am uncertain about what I experienced constitutes sexual misconduct?

If you believe that you have experienced a non-consensual sexual contact, but are unsure of whether it was a violation of the District's Sexual Misconduct Policy, you should contact Cameron Abbott, the Title IX Officer at 916-660-7660. He can help you to define and clarify the event(s) and advise you of your options. You can also discuss options with professional counselors or family nurse practitioners at the Counseling Center or Health Center.

Does the complaint remain confidential?

The privacy of all parties to a complaint of sexual misconduct must be strictly observed, except insofar as it interferes with the College’s obligation to fully investigate allegations of sexual misconduct. Where privacy is not strictly kept, it will still be tightly controlled on a need-to-know basis. Dissemination of information and/or written materials to persons not involved in the complaint procedure is not permitted. Violations of the privacy of the Complainant or the accused student may lead to conduct action by the District.

The District also must statistically report the occurrence on campus of major violent crimes, including certain sex offenses, in an annual report of campus crime statistics. This statistical report does not include personally identifiable information.

If I share information about a sexual assault, what is the difference between confidentiality and privacy?

CONFIDENTIALITY: Under California law, communications with some individuals are confidential. This means that any information shared by the survivor with a specific individual will not be used against the individual in court or shared with others. This individual cannot be subpoenaed to testify against the survivor in a court of law.

Students should always confirm whether confidentiality applies to the communication. Generally, confidentiality applies when a student seeks services from the following persons:

  • Licensed mental health professional (including those employed at the College’s Health Center)
  • Personal attorney
  • Religious/spiritual counselor

PRIVACY: Sierra is committed to creating an environment that encourages students to come forward if they have experienced any form of sexual misconduct. The district will safeguard the identities of the students who seek help or who report sexual misconduct. That is, district employees will seek to keep the information private.

A district employee cannot guarantee complete confidentiality, but the individual can guarantee privacy. Information is disclosed only to select district personnel who have an essential need to know in order to carry out their responsibilities. As is the case with any educational institution, the district must balance the needs of the individual student with its obligation to protect the safety and well-being of the community at large. Therefore, depending on the seriousness of the alleged incident, further action may be necessary, including a campus security alert. The alert, however, would never contain any information identifying the student who brought the complaint.

Do I have to name my assailant?

Yes, if you want formal disciplinary action to be taken against the alleged assailant. No, if you choose to respond informally and do not file a formal complaint. Victims should be aware that not identifying the assailant may limit the District's ability to respond comprehensively.

Will the accused student know my identity?

Yes, if you file a formal complaint. Sexual misconduct is a serious offense and the accused student has the right to know the identity of the Complainant/alleged victim. If there is a hearing, the District does provide options for questioning without confrontation. The answer is only no if no specific name or identity is provided. In this situation the issue is counted in the District's reporting data, but no formal investigation or confrontation can be conducted.

If I report my assailant, I am afraid that I will be subject to retaliation from him/her or his/her friends. What kinds of protection can the District provide to me?

It is a violation of District policy to retaliate in any way against an individual or a group because of a reported allegation of sexual harassment or misconduct.

The District recognizes that retaliation can 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 District will take immediate and responsive action to any report of retaliation and may pursue disciplinary action as appropriate. An individual reporting sexual harassment or misconduct is entitled to protection from any form of retaliation following a report that is made in good faith, even if the report is later not proven.

What if I have a relationship with the person who assaulted me?

It is never okay to force, threaten or coerce someone into having sex against his/her will, even if they are in a relationship. Just because you have been intimate with someone in the past does not automatically mean you give consent for any and all future sexual activity.

Will my parents be told?

Whether you are the Complainant or the accused student, the District's primary relationship is to the student and not the parent. However, in the event of major medical, disciplinary, or academic jeopardy, students are strongly encouraged to inform their parents. District officials will directly inform parents when requested to do so by a student, or in certain instances where a health or safety emergency exist, or if the District determines such communication is necessary.

My assailant attends one of my classes. I am having difficulty concentrating on my schoolwork. How can I receive help with my courses?

If your assailant attends one of your classes, you may change classes. We will work with your Division Dean to help switch your classes and assist in getting extensions on course work if necessary.

Will a student be punished when reporting a sexual misconduct policy violation if they have illegally used alcohol and/or other drugs?

The District's primary concern is the health and safety of its students and employees. When conducting an investigation of an alleged sexual assault, the District's focus will be on addressing the sexual assault and not the lesser policy violations that may be discovered or disclosed. The District may, however, provide referrals to psychological services or require other educational options.

Will the use of alcohol or other drugs affect the outcome of a sexual misconduct complaint?

The use of alcohol and/or drugs by either party will not diminish the responsibility of the accused. However, alcohol and/or other drugs are likely to affect memories and may affect the outcome of a case.

Will either party’s prior use of drugs and/or alcohol be a factor when reporting sexual misconduct?

Not unless there is a compelling reason to believe that prior use or abuse is relevant to the present complaint.

If I engage in a sexual activity with someone who has been drinking, can I be accused of sexual assault?

Yes, it is against the District's Sexual Misconduct policy (in preparation) to engage in any sexual activity with someone who is mentally or physically incapacitated, and therefore incapable of giving consent. Alcohol may cause such a state of incapacitation. However, it varies on a case by case basis. For a variety of reasons it is not advisable to engage in sexual activity while intoxicated. When one or both parties are intoxicated, people tend to misinterpret another’s sexual intentions and often proceed before the issue of consent has been clarified.

Can I file a complaint with the District and also​ with the police? Can I do one and not the other?

Yes, you may take action through both the campus disciplinary system and the criminal justice system. The District encourages Complainants to pursue criminal action for incidents of sexual harassment or misconduct that may also be crimes under California law. The District will also assist a Complainant in making a criminal report and will cooperate with law enforcement agencies if a Complainant decides to pursue the criminal process to the extent permitted by law. However, a Complainant may also choose not to pursue criminal action, and under most circumstances, the local Police Department will not force a Complainant to pursue charges if he/she is not willing to do so.

What is the time frame for resolution?

The investigation and resolution (including appeal) of all reports will generally be completed within 60 to 90 days. Extenuating circumstances including the complexity and severity of a complaint may arise that require the complaint process to extend beyond 60 to 90 days. In general, a Complainant and Respondent can expect to receive periodic updates as to the status of the review or investigation. In the event that the investigation and resolution exceed this time frame, the College will notify all parties of the need for additional time and best efforts will be made to complete the process in a timely manner.

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