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The Daily Tar Heel

Sexual Assault Task Force talks report handling

Members of the Sexual Assault Task Force discussed Monday who handles a report of assault after a Title IX investigation into the incident has occurred.

The task force has been working to rewrite University policy on sexual assault since this summer, and Interim Title IX Coordinator Christi Hurt said members are still exploring who should handle a report of sexual assault after it has been investigated.

“We are leaning towards an internal investigator who would make the finding of responsibility and then give that to the adjudication process and the adjudication body would then verify the facts,” she said.

Currently, the investigator will send its findings to the Title IX coordinator, who will check for throughness and then the reporting and responding students will receive a copy within 10 days.

Members of the meeting discussed whether a single person — the Title IX investigator — should handle both the investigation and hearing process.

“The question is: ‘Does this set up a prejudicial influence in the investigative hearing panel because the investigator has already determined a finding?’,” said George Hare, deputy chief of the Department of Public Safety.

Student Body President Christy Lambden said there could be a system with two investigators — one to do the charging and the other to determine responsibility.

“I’m uncomfortable with the idea of the same person doing the charging and the finding of responsibility,” he said.

Other ideas, such as a formal panel that would judge the evidence, were discussed.

Community member and Chapel Hill author Amy Tiemann said it is important to make the process less courtroom- and trial-like so no one has to confront his or her accuser.

Hurt said not enough members of the task force were present Monday to make a final decision regarding the framework of both the finding and sanctioning processes in question.

She said there are very specific decisions that need to be made in terms of how the group proceeds.

“I would love to stay at the subject-verb-predicate part of the analysis,” she said. “Not the adjectives and adverbs like the hows and whys.”

National sexual assault expert Gina Smith, who Skyped into the meeting, said the task force has to be sensitive to the perception of the campus based on the more formal way in which the University has dealt with these cases.

She said in the past, UNC has handled student conduct using traditional elements of due process and confrontation, which the task force is trying to avoid.

Hurt said the work of the task force is still in motion, but she is ready to move forward with concrete action.

“I think it’s time to take proposals.”

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