Sexual assault cases at Sussex take up to a year to be resolved

They can take between two and 12 months to be closed

The University of Sussex has confirmed that for the academic year 2019-2020, the average time taken to investigate allegations of “physical misconduct, sexual misconduct or sexual harassment” was between two and 12 months.

The university has claimed that the time taken to make progress on individual cases was impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

As a result of the first national lockdown, back in March 2020, student discipline cases were delayed due to readjustments being made to carry out investigations, meetings and panels whilst “trying to obtain a university Zoom license” and adjusting to working from home. On top of that, The Sussex Tab is aware that the sexual assault reporting tool on the SU website was broken for as long as four months.

Sussex University also states medical exams and police involvement as causing other delays.

Given the cases take so long to be resolved, students can request that they be protected from their alleged abuser. However the protection, which can come in the form of no contact orders or the accused being suspended, is subject to a “risk assessment” process first.

The university hasn’t revealed whether any students were expelled or suspended in the last academic year as a result of abuse allegations or outcomes of cases. However, data obtained from a Freedom of Information act has revealed the outcome to cases involving physical misconduct, sexual misconduct and sexual harassment. For the academic year 2019/20, four complaints were upheld, one complaint was partially upheld, two complaints were not upheld, two complaints weren’t pursued due to “no consent to continue”, two complaints are still ongoing and one complaint is on police hold. This means that out of a total 12 complaints in this academic year, only four resulted in full and direct action being taken by the university.

This comes after it has been revealed that students face a significant waiting time for face to face counselling sessions of over a week for an initial assessment and then up to fortnight for a face to face session.