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Sexual Assault at Colleges

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This office recently received final federal court approval for a class action settlement on behalf of 9 women who were grad students at Dartmouth College. The $14,000,000 settlement included financial enhancements to how Dartmouth handles these cases.

The legislature has enacted a law signed by Governor Chris Sununu recently changing how these matters are handled by all colleges and universities. Chapter 24 of the 2020 laws takes effect on January 16, 2021, as RSA 188-H and is entitled Sexual Misconduct at Institutions of Higher Education.

Adoption of Policies Required

Each institution of higher education shall adopt a policy on sexual misconduct, consistent with applicable state and federal law. The policy shall include:

  • Procedures by which students and employees at the institution may report or disclose alleged incidents of sexual misconduct regardless of where the offense occurred.
  • Information on where to receive immediate emergency assistance,
  • Descriptions of and contact information for the types of counseling and health, safety, academic, and other support services available within the local community, and
  • A summary of the institution’s procedures for investigating, adjudicating, and resolving sexual misconduct complaints, including an explanation of all procedures which shall be followed to obtain investigatory reports and gather evidence.

Notice of Rights.

Each institution of higher education shall provide both the accuser and the responding party with written notice of the institution’s decision to proceed with an institutional disciplinary process regarding an allegation of sexual misconduct sufficiently in advance of a disciplinary hearing to provide both the accuser and responding parties with the opportunity to meaningfully exercise their rights.

Collaboration With Law Enforcement

Each institution of higher education shall adopt policies and procedures with the local law enforcement agency having primary jurisdiction over the city or town wherein the institution’s primary campus is located to establish the respective roles and responsibilities of each party related to the prevention of and response to on-campus and off-campus sexual misconduct.

Confidential Resource Advisors

Each institution of higher education shall establish a campus security policy that includes the designation of at least one confidential resource advisor. The advisor shall be pointed based on experience and a demonstrated ability of the individual to effectively provide victim serves related to sexual misconduct.

Awareness Programming

An institution of higher education shall provide mandatory annual sexual misconduct primary prevention and awareness programming for all students and all employees of the institution that shall include:

  • An explanation of consent as it applies to sexual activity.
  • The role of drugs and alcohol play.
  • Information on options relating to the reporting of an incident of sexual misconduct.
  • Information on the institution’s procedures for resolving sexual misconduct complaints.

Reporting Requirements

Not later than October 1 of each year an institution of higher education shall prepare and submit to the Commission of the Department of Health and Human Services, a report that includes:

  • The total number of allegations of dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault.
  • The number of law enforcement investigations initiated in response to complaints.
  • The number of students found responsible for violating an institution’s policies.
  • The number of students found not responsible for violating an institution’s policies.

If you or a family member or friend want to have help with pursuing a sexual assault case on a campus please contact us at (603) 288-1403 or fill out our online contact form.