Title IX

San Diego Police Department Investigation into Off-Campus Incident 

Last Update: June 17, 2022 (this page will be updated as the university has new information to share)

The following provides information about an investigation into reports of an off-campus sexual assault being led by the San Diego Police Department (SDPD), the lead investigative agency on the alleged off campus sexual assault case. 

San Diego State University expects all members of its community to support and sustain an environment free from harm, including assault, and the university communicates that message consistently and often. No individual should ever experience sexual assault, and SDSU has a range of policies, procedures, educational activities and training sessions specifically designed for prevention, and to actively address reports of sexual violence and misconduct. We are committed to preserving the integrity of the San Diego Police Department’s criminal investigation to avoid jeopardizing anything less than achieving truth and justice to which every victim is entitled. 

At SDSU, our primary responsibility is the safety and wellbeing of students, faculty, staff and our visitors. The university is committed to actions that serve to help prevent sexual assault and sexual violence and to also respond and support those who experience any form of sexual assault.

Purpose of this Information, and Why Now?

In October 2021, San Diego Police Department (SDPD) requested that SDSU not take any action, including launching an investigation and conducting interviews, regarding the reported off campus sexual assault to avoid compromising its own criminal investigation. 

As members of the media have now reported on the SDPD investigation, the university is providing information about its actions, its resources and its commitment to supporting a thorough and complete police investigation, which every victim deserves. 

The site also contains information about resources relating to sexual assault and sexual violence prevention. 

How Has SDSU Responded? 

The following is a limited timeline of actions SDSU has taken since SDPD informed the university of the alleged off campus sexual assault and of the agency’s investigation: Oct. 19, 2021: The San Diego State Department (SDPD) contacted SDSU and the University Police Department with an initial report of a sexual assault occurring off campus. SDPD informed the university that it had already opened and begun an active investigation into the allegations. SDPD verbally requested that SDSU not initiate any separate investigation or take other actions that might compromise its criminal investigation, and the university opted to comply. 

  • Oct. 19, 2021: SDSU’s Title IX office began its assessment of actions it could take given the reported case. To date, no victims or witnesses have reported the incident to SDSU.
  • Oct. 26, 2021: SDSU received the first of several anonymous submissions from individuals with third hand information about the alleged off-campus sexual assault. The university had agreed to comply with SDPD’s investigation, and shared the information with SDPD.
  • Oct. 27, 2021: SDSU responded to the individuals sharing anonymous information, requesting that the individuals contact the Title IX Coordinator so that the Title IX Coordinator could learn more about the incident. All of the anonymous reporters declined the meeting request.
  • Oct. 28, 2021: SDPD sent a formal letter to SDSU requesting that the university temporarily delay its administrative investigation to ensure that the criminal case was not compromised. The university has and continues to comply with SDPD.
  • October through December 2021: Individuals shared anonymous information about the alleged sexual assault with SDSU, but were not able to provide first-hand, witness accounts regarding the incident. In follow-up communications to those individuals, SDSU asked each to share information with SDPD, and the university provided contact information for the SDPD sergeant handling the investigation.
  • Nov. 12, 2021: SDSU sent a formal letter to SDPD indicating that it had shared all information the university was aware of about the reported incident and would continue to comply with the police investigation. In an effort to ensure any alleged victim was aware of their right to file a Title IX complaint, the university also provided SDPD with our Title IX policy and Title IX Complaint form and formally requested that they provide both to any alleged victim. 
  • Dec. 7, 2021: SDSU sent a second formal letter to SDPD requesting any alleged victim information, and also requested that the police agency share the university’s Title IX Coordinator’s contact information with any alleged victim.
  • October 2021 to Present: SDSU continued to cooperate with SDPD and regularly confirmed that SDPD was continuing to actively investigate the incident and that there was a continuing need for SDSU to pause its investigation.
    October 2021 to Present: The Title IX Coordinator, in consultation, continues to periodically assess information known to the university, to include SDPD’s request, to determine any additional or new actions the university may take.
  • January 2022 to Present: Periodic updates were shared between SDSU and SDPD during the ongoing criminal investigation, which continues.
  • June 3, 2022: SDSU President Adela de la Torre shared a campus message providing information about the case, SDSU’s compliance with the case, campus resources and other details.
  • June 6, 2022: To date, no victims or witnesses have reported the incident to SDSU’s Title IX office or the University Police Department. SDPD has not confirmed the name of the victim or any alleged to have been involved.
  • June 13: 2022: SDPD shared an additional formal request with SDSU, asking the university to continue to hold off on an investigation and to continue to comply with SDPD's ongoing criminal investigation. "SDSU's compliance with our October 28, 2021 request to delay the Title IX administrative investigation has helped ensure the integrity of SDPD's complex criminal investigation," the letter reads. 
  • Ongoing: The university offers education, training, workshops, including mandatory training, for sexual assault education and prevention. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Last Update: June 6, 2022

Q: What is the difference between a Title IX investigation and a criminal investigation?

A: A criminal investigation, unlike Title IX procedures, determines whether an individual has broken a law. During a criminal investigation, law enforcement collects evidence and interviews suspects and witnesses. The police submit their case to the prosecutor’s office, who ultimately decides whether sufficient evidence exists to charge the suspect with a crime. If an individual is charged, and found guilty, they may be sentenced to jail or prison and may also be subjected to other criminal penalties, including probation, registering as a sex offender, or monetary penalties. 

A Title IX investigation is an administrative procedure that determines only whether college or university policy has been violated. If a student is found to have violated university policy, they could face discipline through the university’s disciplinary process, with maximum penalty being expulsion from the university. University investigations are not intended to be an adversarial process between the victim, accused and witnesses. Rather, it is a process and opportunity for the campus to educate students and provide an environment free from gender based discrimination and comply with its obligations under the law. 

Additionally, criminal investigations have many tools at their disposal that Title IX investigations do not. In criminal investigations, production of evidence can be compelled through subpoenas, as well as obtained through the execution of a search warrant. Universities do not have warrant or subpoena power. Additionally, universities can not force a victim or the accused to participate in a Title IX investigation. 

Compromising a police investigation, then, can have immediate and irreversible consequences for a victim and for the ability to prosecute criminals.  

Q: Why didn’t SDSU initiate a Title IX investigation? 

A: San Diego Police Department (SDPD) is leading the investigation into the alleged sexual assault reported to have occurred off campus with a victim who is not an SDSU student. SDPD informed SDSU of its active investigation in October 2021, and formally requested that the university not initiate its own investigation. SDSU agreed to comply with the criminal investigation to avoid compromising SDPD’s efforts to identify suspects, which would allow for prosecution at the highest possible levels of the law. 

SDPD requested that the university avoid taking any action that could compromise their efforts, to include investigating, conducting interviews and other actions; compromising a police investigation can have immediate and irreversible consequences for a victim and for the ability to prosecute criminals, could alter those involved and prompt destruction of evidence. SDSU has trust in the more powerful criminal investigation process and continues to comply with SDPD.  

Q: Given the nature of the allegations, wouldn’t a Title IX investigation result in criminal charges if the university found any students responsible? 

A: No. The Title IX process and the criminal process are not interchangeable. 

A Title IX investigation, even where the accused is found guilty, will never automatically result in criminal charges. This is because the two processes ask fundamentally different questions. Title IX investigations ask whether a university policy has been violated and criminal investigations ask whether a criminal law has been violated. Additionally, the two processes have very different rules for the admissibility of evidence, the burden of proof, and the underlying definitions of the conduct being investigated.

Q: Why is SDSU complying with the SDPD investigation?

A: SDSU is committed to ensuring that it does not take any action that would limit accountability for anyone found responsible for the allegations. After careful consideration, SDSU determined that cooperating with the criminal investigation was the appropriate action to help ensure the highest likelihood of real consequences for anyone found responsible. These are always tough decisions, but the university continues to believe this is the appropriate course of action.

Any Title IX investigation could have alerted the suspects of the criminal case, and would likely lead to the loss or destruction of evidence and collusion among those involved, which could irreparably interfere with law enforcement's ability to conduct their investigation. If Title IX would have prematurely initiated its own investigation, the unintended consequence could have been denying the victim criminal justice. This would be an unacceptable result. 

Other considerations also included an analysis of whether the university had sufficient information to conduct a meaningful Title IX investigation under the circumstances. SDPD did not and has not confirmed the identity of the victim or any witnesses, nor has SDPD confirmed the identity of any known suspect. If a meaningful Title IX investigation could not be conducted because of the limited information available to the university, any investigation would do little more than interfere with the criminal investigation. 

It is important to note SDSU has agreed to pause any investigation, but this is not a permanent stop. When appropriate, the university will reassess the appropriate action to take to ensure the university responds in a responsible way. 

Q: How long do criminal investigations take? 

A: The length of a criminal investigation varies tremendously depending on many factors, including the complexities of the investigation and the severity of the allegations. It is not uncommon for an investigation of significant complexities and importance to last many months.

Q: Absent a Title IX investigation, what actions has SDSU taken? 

A: After learning from SDPD of the off campus report and the agency’s active investigation, SDSU initiated several actions, include but not limited to the following:

  • SDSU submitted Title IX information and available services and resources on several occasions to the SDPD to give directly to the victim. SDPD confirmed receipt. To date, the victim has not contacted SDSU.
  • SDSU requested that SDPD provide additional details about the reported incident so that the university could take action. SDPD formally requested that SDSU not intervene, as intervention could compromise their criminal investigation.
  • SDSU received anonymous information from individuals who were not witnesses. The university shared all information with SDPD to aid in its investigation.  SDSU also encouraged those making the reports to contact and share information with SDPD. 
    Ultimately, to avoid compromising the criminal investigation, SDSU has complied with SDPD’s investigation.
  • SDSU sustained and increased sexual prevention education among students, faculty and staff – in addition to ongoing workshops, training, and policy enhancements the university has made over several years.

 

University Statements

Last Updated: June 17, 2022

San Diego State University Statement

SDSU’s cooperation with SDPD and the university’s temporary pause in starting a separate investigation during the initial stage of the criminal investigation is a best practice and one that is done to protect the integrity of the criminal process, which takes precedence. 

Although the university would not and does not indefinitely delay its Title IX processes pending a related criminal investigation, any action by the university in alerting potential suspects to a criminal investigation can result in adverse impacts to the criminal investigation, including the destruction of evidence and coercion of witnesses. Unlike criminal investigations, the university does not have subpoena authority, nor the authority to secure and pursue warrants off campus, nor can the campus compel the participation and interview of non-students as can be done in a criminal investigation by SDPD.  

The university found the allegations abhorrent and did consider a number of potential actions. Ultimately, SDSU, including its Title IX office and police department, agreed to comply with SDPD’s request not to launch an investigation, as the agency had already initiated an investigation into the off-campus report. SDPD made a formal request that the university not undermine that criminal investigation through a parallel process or take any action which might compromise its integrity. 

As SDPD has continued to indicate they are in the active stages of their investigation, SDSU continues to comply and has confidence in the investigative authority of the police department and their effort to hold any perpetrator accountable to the highest possible levels.

SDSU has agreed not to take any action that would compromise SDPD’s criminal investigation. 

It is of extreme importance given the serious nature of these allegations that a complete police investigation can occur with integrity — this is true for any police investigation. Any potential or actual impairment of the criminal process can have unintended consequences on our own Title IX process, adversely impacting the university’s ability to make sustainable findings and to hold students accountable for violations of university policy. 

SDSU directed SDPD, in writing, to provide the reported victim with SDSU’s Title IX officers’ information directly.

After learning of the alleged off-campus assault, SDSU requested in writing that SDPD provide any victim with direct information about SDSU’s complaint process and the contact information for the university’s Title IX Coordinator. Per these letters, we communicated to SDPD that as we did not know their identity, we were unable to provide this information to them directly. SDPD confirmed that they did share the information and, to date, the University Police Department and Title IX office have not received any reports from any victim or any witnesses. 

SDSU offers an extensive, multi-level range of services, programs and policies designed to prevent sexual assault and misconduct and to address cases when they occur. 

SDSU regularly offered training sessions and education about prevention and also sexual violence and misconduct during the fall and spring to all members of our community, including our student body. 

During the academic year that just ended, and as we have in past years, SDSU offered robust training to students, including those in the residence halls, about sexual violence, sexual misconduct and also alcohol and other drugs. This is ongoing, as regularly held training sessions are designed to inform students about how to make choices that support the interest of individual and peer safety and well being. SDSU’s sexual violence training in particular helps students to understand healthy and unhealthy relationships, how to interrupt sexual violence and how to support victims and report situations.

Examples include but are in no way limited to: 

  • Educational training sessions offered to students, including those in the residence halls, fraternities and sororities and in athletics about sexual violence, sexual misconduct and also alcohol and other drugs.
  • Mandatory sexual violence training for incoming freshmen as well as specialized training for freshman and sophomore student-athletes enrolled in our Aztecs Going Pro seminar course. 
  • Educational Take Back the Week programs held in April as part of annual programming, which included student activities and workshops this year. 
  • Enhanced educational programs, policies and intervention efforts around student safety and well being at the direction of SDSU President Adela de la Torre through the work of the Presidential Task Force on Student Activities and Safety report and the Presidential Task Force on Alcohol and Substance Misuse report, to include the creation of a Hazing Prevention Task Force, a Good Samaritan Policy and an the Amnesty Policy, as well as the expansion of the Organizational Policy and Misconduct website
  • Reminder messages to faculty and staff about their reporting obligation to share any and all reports of sexual violence and misconduct with the university’s Title IX office. 

SDSU also has designated Title IX administrators to provide students with assistance and full support, and to monitor and oversee overall compliance with laws and policies related to sexual violence. After receiving a report, the Title IX Coordinator will assess the report and provide outreach to the possible Complainant named in the report. The Title IX Coordinator will conduct an intake meeting with any complainant who responds to outreach communication, to discuss the complainant's options and rights, including information on how to file a formal complaint under Title IX, and provide information about supportive measures. The Title IX Coordinator will determine whether to open an investigation. If the complaint is accepted for investigation, the Title IX Coordinator will simultaneously provide both parties a notice of investigation and assign an investigator to the case. It is important to note that the Title IX process is separate from a police investigation. In addition to the complaint process, administrators ensure that the individual is connected immediately with university support services. 

SDSU also provides access to counseling services and to a Sexual Assault Victim Advocate, a confidential resource. Any details relating to a report of sexual violence will not be reported to the university without the individual’s consent. In addition to the above support services, Title IX coordinators also work with each individual on their specific needs during the process, which include academic accommodations, accommodations to move one’s residential location, or safety and security accommodations, such as no contact orders.

Programs and Services 

SDSU offers the following programs, initiatives, support services and other resources relating to sexual assault and sexual violence: 

Support, Contact Information 


Something happened and I think I’ve been sexually assaulted. How do I know and what should I do? 

If you are in danger or need help immediately, please call 9-1-1 right away. If you wish to speak with someone on campus, you have options. At SDSU, the Title IX Coordinator, the Deputy Title IX Coordinators and the Sexual Assault Victim Advocate are all available to explain and discuss on and off-campus support resources available to you. The team will also explain your right to file a criminal complaint and also SDSU’s relevant complaint process and your right to receive assistance with that process, including the investigation process. The team can also explain how confidentiality is handled. 

I know of someone who was assaulted and I would like to report the situation. What should I do? 
If you or someone you know is in danger or needs help immediately, please call 9-1-1 right away. Also, we urge you to rely on the online and other reporting pathways to report abuse and instances of sexual and other violence.

If you wish to speak with someone on campus, you have options. The Title IX Coordinator, the Deputy Title IX Coordinators and the Sexual Assault Victim Advocate are all available to explain and discuss on and off-campus support resources available to you. The team will also explain your right to file a criminal complaint and also SDSU’s relevant complaint process and your right to receive assistance with that process, including the investigation process. The team can also explain how confidentiality is handled. Contact Maria Outcalt-Smith, the Sexual Assault Services Director, Center for Community Solutions, by calling 858-693-2360 or emailing [email protected]. Other contact information is on SDSU’s Title IX website

I am having trouble and need to speak to someone. What should I do? 
If you are experiencing an emergency, please call 9-1-1. There are a range of resources available to you, including counseling, health education, emergency financial resources and other support and assistance. Please refer to SDSU’s list of support services to identify the type of support you need and to connect with the team members who can help you. Contact Maria Outcalt-Smith, the Sexual Assault Services Director, Center for Community Solutions, by calling 858-693-2360 or emailing [email protected]. Other contact information is on SDSU’s Title IX website