By Cassy Sottile and Lori Wysong
A case of dating violence occurred on campus last year, beginning in the spring semester of 2018, according to the most recent Department of Public Safety report. By the fall semester, the situation escalated to a case of rape.
Both incidents were reported to Public Safety and have since been referred to the Chestertown Police Department, which is currently investigating the crime.
“The student that was accused of misconduct is no longer a student and is not on campus. This is not a case where we are concerned that a sexual predator is on campus that could possibly prey on another student,” said Director of Public Safety Brandon McFayden.
McFayden said that because of Title IX, many of the details of the case are private.
“To try and put students at ease, I will say that this case involves a student that was in a relationship with another student,” he said.
Although this particular case was initially referred to Public Safety, McFayden said there are many ways that students can report incidents of a similar nature.
“Theres a number of resources. They can always contact Public Safety, if it’s something where they don’t feel comfortable talking to Public Safety, the Health Center has counselors if it’s something they want to talk to a counselor about,” McFayden said.
According to campus Title IX policy, sexual misconduct committee in connection with any College program, whether on or off campus, is prohibited, including but not limited to academic, educational, extra-curricular, athletic and residential programs.
Title IX Coordinator Candace Wannamaker processes cases relating to sexual abuse.
According to McFayden, Wannamaker can refer a case to Public Safety for investigation, but this is not required.
“All Title IX cases don’t have to be referred to Public Safety. Some victims don’t want that process, and that’s their decision,” he said.
According to the WC Title IX policy, a criminal charge and an internal complaint can be pursued at the same time.
College authorities, usually the director of Public Safety, will notify the CPD of the sexual assault only at the request of the student or employee filing the complaint. At the direction of the CPD, WC authorities will provide assistance in obtaining, securing and maintaining evidence for criminal prosecution.
According to Wannamaker, when a WC student is the subject of a sexual assault/violence complaint the individual filing the complaint will be informed about the role of the Honor Board’s sexual misconduct hearing board in evaluating whether the student is responsible for violations of the College’s policy.
After a student reports an incident and wants to proceed with the conduct process, the next step would be to complete a formal interview with a Title IX investigator.
“For a case that is fully investigated on campus, it is typically completed within 60 days. Inquiry cases can be processed much faster,” Wannamaker said.
Students are able to report anonymously for Title IX, but could face the accused party if the case goes to a hearing.
“If a student sees something or witnesses a Title IX violation, they can tell me in person, and I will protect their identity as much as I can,” Wannamaker said. “It’s considered ‘private,’ not confidential.”
Other resources that are available on campus include the Counseling Center, Public Safety, the S.A.R.A. coordinator (Sarah Tansits), reporting to a Title IX coordinator, or their RA. Off campus, the College works with the CPD, hospitals in the area, and For All Seasons, a behavioral health and rape crisis center.
“We also would suggest that the student meet with the counseling center to address any needs they may have for support, as well as contacting Tansits to have as a support person through the entire process,” Wannamaker said.