Witness Resource Guide
Witnesses are a very important part of the Title IX Process. A witness is someone who has information about an alleged incident or situation that is being investigated. This information can be either direct knowledge, secondary knowledge, or serving as an expert witness. Either party (the Complainant and/or the Respondent), the Investigator, and/or the Review Panel can request individuals to serve as witnesses. If someone names you as a witness, you will be asked by a Title IX Administrator to participate in the process. Your role as a witness in the Title IX process is incredibly important. You can provide information that allows the investigators and decision makers to piece together facts regarding the alleged incident. It is important for you to be honest and upfront in order for administrators to find the facts of the alleged incident.
What is a Title IX Investigation?
An investigation is part of the administrative process Marshall uses to determine whether Marshall’s policy has been violated. The investigation is not a legal or disciplinary proceeding. As a result, a Title IX investigation does not determine guilt or innocence relative to any local, state, or federal law. It thus does not adhere to the same rules that govern or might be applied in a legal or disciplinary proceeding.
In the Title IX investigation process, individuals bringing forward allegations are referred to as Complainants, and individuals responding to allegations are referred to as Respondents. Sometimes Complainants and Respondents are referred to individually as “a party” or jointly as “the parties.” Individuals who have direct experience with or knowledge of events, issues, or circumstances related to the investigation or whom Complainants or Respondents want the investigator to speak with are referred to as witnesses.
It is important that you assist in the Title IX process at Marshall. You can provide valuable information related to the alleged incident, and contribute to fact finding of the investigation. An investigation is a mechanism Marshall uses to determine whether its policies against discrimination and harassment have been violated and to correct and address violations that have occurred. The investigation process relies on the willingness of individuals to participate. However, the decision to participate as a witness in the investigation process is an individual one.
Marshall recognizes the difficulty of participating in an investigation and the concerns that witnesses have for how their participation may influence or impact their professional life and personal and professional relationships. Individuals who have such concerns are strongly encouraged to contact the Title IX Investigator to discuss possible ways the Marshall may help to prevent potential acts of retaliation, to respond to acts of retaliation that do occur, and/or work with a witness to provide mitigating solutions as appropriate and reasonable that may help a witness to participate in the investigation.
The investigator gathers information (fact-gathering) and determines what occurred (fact-finding). The investigator will gather information and evidence, determine which of the information and evidence is relevant to the allegations, conduct an analysis of the relevant information, and make findings of fact. The investigator the Marshall assigns to conduct the investigation, whether an internal or external investigator, does not act as an advocate, represent the Marshall in a legal action or proceeding and does not provide any legal advice to the Marshall related to the investigation process.
When a witness meets with the investigator, the investigator will ask the witness questions related to the allegations and may ask if the witness has any information to submit (e.g., documents, texts, emails, images, etc.) for the investigator to review and consider. In some cases, the investigator may ask to interview a witness more than once if additional information becomes available since the previous interview with the witness and/or to follow up with a witness to clarify information or previous statements.
It is important to note that while the investigator may ask a witness questions about what a witness may know or have observed, the investigator will only share with a witness information about the investigation, including the specifics related to an allegation if the investigator determines it is necessary to do so to further information gathering or to seek clarification of information already gathered. In order to protect the privacy of all those involved and the integrity of the investigation, the investigator is not otherwise obligated to share any information related to the investigation with a witness.
In order to preserve the privacy of Complainants and Respondents, Marshall does not share with witnesses the investigation report or the outcome of the investigation nor any sanction, discipline, or any other Marshall action that may result from the investigation process.
Once the investigation report is finalized, Complainants and Respondents have the right to receive a copy of the investigation report; witnesses do not have this same right. For completeness of the investigation file and Marshall record, and consistent with due process rights for Complainants and Respondents, witness names are provided to the parties.
The Title IX process can also be an emotional process for witnesses. If you feel you need support or services, please contact some of our community resources below.
IF YOU HAVE AN EMERGENCY: Contact MUPD at 304-696-4357 or 9-1-1.
Contact – Dr. Penny Koontz
(this resource may have costs associated with it)
Contact – Dr. Peggy Harmon
(this resource may have costs associated with it)
If you have any questions or would like additional clarification regarding the investigation process, please contact the Title IX Investigator.