Cooley Law School Logo

Harassment, Sexual Assault, and Domestic Violence Policies

Harassment, Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence, Dating Violence and Stalking Prevention and Response policies

Title IX of the U.S. Education Amendments of 1972 provides that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.” Cooley Law School is committed to a community that is free from sexual misconduct, violence, stalking and harassment.

Following are the Law School’s policies, a comprehensive plan addressing harassment, sexual misconduct, educational programs and our policies and procedures that address reports of harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. These policies apply even if the incident occurs off-site – not on a Law School campus.

The Cooley Law School Board of Directors adopted a comprehensive policy (Board Policy 402) prohibiting sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, other forms of discriminatory harassment, and retaliation for reporting such conduct. The Cooley Law School faculty unanimously ratified the policy. This policy applies to students, faculty members, and other employees, as well as visitors or vendors. Click here to read Policy 402.  A copy can also be found on the Cooley Connect portal.

A. Definitions


Our Policy prohibits any harassment of a Law School student, faculty member, or other employee.  Harassment under this policy is defined as an individual who engages in conduct that creates an offensive, hostile, or intimidating employment or educational environment and that conduct is based on one or more of the following characteristics:

  • gender or sexual orientation;
  • age;
  • race or color;
  • ethnicity or nationality;
  • religion, religious beliefs, or religious practices;
  • disability or need for an accommodation;
  • pregnancy, marital, or familial status;
  • height or weight;
  • veteran status; or
  • any other characteristic protected by law or regulation.

Sexual Harassment

The Policy defines sexual harassment as any subjectively unwelcome, severe or pervasive conduct of a sexual nature toward another person (including a person of the same gender), such as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, that has either the purpose or effect of:

  • Creating an objectively offensive, intimidating, or hostile educational or work environment that denies or materially restricts an individual’s ability to fully enjoy and participate in the terms and conditions or benefits of education or employment; or
  • Conditioning educational or employment benefits or reprisals on the individual’s response to demands for sexual interaction.

Specific examples of other forms of sexual harassment are described in the Policy and include, but are not limited to:

  • Unwelcome or unwanted sexual advances;
  • Demeaning acts of aggression or hostility based on sex or sex-stereotyping, even if those acts do not involve conduct of an overt sexual nature;
  • Oral, written, or any other form of graphic communication or distribution of materials of a sexual nature;
  • Threats of reprisal against, or promises of advantage for, a person’s academic standing, grade, or terms and conditions of employment conditioned on a student, faculty member, or employee’s response to sexual demands or requests; or
  • Any other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that creates a hostile, intimidating, or offensive working or educational environment.

Other Forms of Harassment

Any form of subjectively unwelcome, severe or pervasive conduct or communication, whether physical, written, oral, or electronic, will constitute harassment that violates our Policy when the conduct or communication:

  • Demeans, intimidates, or shows hostility toward an individual or group based on a person’s gender or sexual orientation; race or color; age; ethnicity; nationality; religion, religious beliefs, or religious practices; height; weight; disability or need for an accommodation; pregnancy, marital or familial status; veteran status; or any other characteristic protected by law or regulation; and
  • Has the purpose or effect of creating an objectively offensive, intimidating, or hostile educational or work environment that denies or materially restricts an individual’s ability to fully enjoy and participate in the terms and conditions or benefits of education or employment.

Domestic Violence

Uniform Crime Reporting: The term ‘‘domestic violence’’ includes felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction receiving grant monies, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction.

Michigan:  MCL: 750.81(2)

1. The defendant assaulted or assaulted and battered the victim. The touching must have been intended by the defendant, that is, not accidental, and it must have been against the victim’s will. An assault is an attempt to commit a battery or an act that would cause a reasonable person to fear or apprehend an immediate battery. At the time of an assault, the defendant must have had the ability to commit a battery, must have appeared to have the ability, or must have thought he had the ability.
2. At the time, the victim was any of the following:
a. The defendant’s spouse.
b. The defendant’s former spouse.
c. Had a child in common with the defendant.
d. A resident or former resident of the same household as the defendant.
e. A person with whom the defendant had or previously had a dating relationship. A “dating relationship” means frequent, intimate association primarily characterized by the expectation of affectional involvement. It does not include a casual relationship or an ordinary fraternization between two individuals in a business or social context.

Florida:  Fla. Stat. 741.28 prohibits “domestic violence” -- specific offenses against a current or former spouse, cohabitant, co-parent or person similarly situation. The statute includes “any assault, aggravated assault, battery, aggravated battery, sexual assault, sexual battery, stalking, aggravated stalking, kidnapping, false imprisonment, or any criminal offense resulting in physical injury or death of one family or household member by another family or household member.”

“Family or household member” is defined as:

  1. a spouse or former spouse,
  2. persons related by blood or marriage,
  3. persons who are presently residing together as if a family or who have resided together in the past as if a family, and
  4. persons who are parents of a child in common regardless of whether they have been married.

With the exception of persons who have a child in common, the family or household members must be currently residing or have in the past resided together in the same single dwelling unit.

Dating VIolence

Uniform Crime Reporting: The term ‘‘dating violence’’ means violence committed by a person (A) who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim; and (B) where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors:

(i) The length of the relationship;
(ii) The type of relationship;
(iii) The frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.

Michigan: dating violence is included in the domestic violence law MCL 750.81 (2)(e) shown above.

Florida:  Fla. Stat. 784.046 prohibits “dating violence” – specific violent offences between individuals who have or have had a continuing and significant relationship of a romantic or intimate nature.”


Uniform Crime Reporting:  The term ‘‘stalking’’ means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to (A) fear for his or her safety or the safety of others; or (B) suffer substantial emotional distress.

Michigan: MCL: 750.411h

a) “Course of conduct” means a pattern of conduct composed of a series of 2 or more separate noncontinuous acts evidencing a continuity of purpose.

b) “Emotional distress” means significant mental suffering or distress that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.

c) “Harassment” means conduct directed toward a victim that includes, but is not limited to, repeated or continuing unconsented contact that would cause a reasonable individual to suffer emotional distress and that actually causes the victim to suffer emotional distress. Harassment does not include constitutionally protected activity or conduct that serves a legitimate purpose.

d) “Stalking” means a willful course of conduct involving repeated or continuing harassment of another individual that would cause a reasonable person to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested and that actually causes the victim to feel terrorized, frightened, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or molested.

e) “Unconsented contact” means any contact with another individual that is initiated or continued without that individual's consent or in disregard of that individual's expressed desire that the contact be avoided or discontinued. Unconsented contact includes, but is not limited to, any of the following:

i.  Following or appearing within the sight of that individual. 
ii. Approaching or confronting that individual in a public place or on private property. 
iii. Appearing at that individual's workplace or residence.
iv. Entering onto or remaining on property owned, leased, or occupied by that individual.
v. Contacting that individual by telephone. 
vi. Sending mail or electronic communications to that individual. 
vii. Placing an object on, or delivering an object to, property owned, leased, or occupied by that individual.

Florida:  Fla. Stat. 784.048 prohibits “willfully, maliciously and repeatedly following, harassing or cyberstalking another person.”

Sexual Assault

Uniform Crime Reporting:

  • RAPE is defined as penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim. Note: this definition encompasses the categories of rape, sodomy, and sexual assault with an object that are used in the UCR National Incident-Based Reporting System.
  • FONDLING is non-forcible and defined as the touching of the private body parts of another person for the purpose of sexual gratification, without the consent of the victim, including instances where the victim is incapable of giving consent because of his/her age or because of his/her temporary or permanent mental incapacity.
  • INCEST is non-forcible and defined as sexual intercourse between persons who are related to each other within the degrees wherein marriage is prohibited by law.
  • STATUTORY RAPE is non-forcible and defined as sexual intercourse with a person who is under the statutory age of consent.

Michigan: Sexual Assault in Michigan falls within the Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC) statute. MCL 750.520. Under Michigan law, there are four degrees of CSC and they cover a range of sexual contact and levels of force or intimidation.

Florida: Sexual Assault is the commission of an unwanted sexual act. It includes non-consensual sexual contact: the deliberate touching of a person’s intimate parts without consent, and non-consensual sexual intercourse. Under Florida law, rape, forcible sodomy, forcible oral copulation, sexual assault with an object, sexual battery, forcible fondling, and threat of sexual assault are crimes. Fla. Stat. 784.011(assault), 784.046(c) (sexual violence) 794.011 (sexual battery).


Michigan:  Consent is only a defense when force is an element of the offense.  Under the Michigan Jury Instructions, “A person consents to a sexual act by agreeing to it freely and willingly, without being forced or coerced. It is not necessary to show that [name complainant] resisted the defendant to prove that this crime was committed. Nor is it necessary to show that [the accuser] did anything to lessen the danger to her. “Mich. CJI2d 20.27(1)-(2).

Florida:  Consent “means intelligent, knowing, and voluntary consent and does not include coerced submission. ‘Consent’ shall not be deemed or construed to mean the failure by the alleged victim to offer physical resistance to the offender.” Florida Sexual Violence Benchbook, page 16.

B. What to do if you see or hear something as an “active bystander.”

If you see something, say something. Bystanders play a critical role in the prevention of sexual and intimate partner violence. They are “individuals who observe violence or witness the conditions that perpetuate violence. They are not directly involved but have the choice to intervene, speak up, or do something about it.” We may not always know what to do even if we want to help. Below is a list of some ways to be an active bystander.

Always remember that if you or someone you see or hear is in immediate danger, call 911. Be careful when interceding in a potentially violent situation – call for help.

  • If you see a friend or fellow student or employee -- or someone who looks like they could be in trouble or need help, ask if they are okay.
  • Speak up when you see or hear someone becoming physically involved with someone who is incapacitated.
  • Speak up if someone discusses plans to take sexual or physical advantage of another person.
  • Believe it when someone discloses a sexual assault, abusive behavior, or experience with stalking and encourage him or her to get help.
  • Refer people for help and support in health, counseling, or legal assistance – including reporting to Law School faculty, staff or administration.

C. What to do if you are a victim of harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence or stalking.

  • Get medical attention, if needed.
  • Report to law enforcement.
  • Call 911 for help in matters of bodily injury or damage to property.
  • Preserve the evidence.

Whether you decide to immediately report or if you choose to wait to make your decision – preserve the evidence. You may choose not to prosecute, but you may want a protection order to keep the perpetrator away from you, or another type of restraining order. Your ability to secure a court order increases with evidence.

Victims of sexual assault should not bathe, douche, smoke, change clothing or clean the bed/linen/area where they were assaulted if the offense occurred within the past 96 hours so that biological evidence may be preserved. If property was damaged or broken, or if clothing was ripped or damaged – keep these items. Victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, and dating violence are encouraged to also preserve evidence by saving text messages, instant messages, social networking pages, and other communications. Take pictures of injuries or damage to property, or anything that might document what happened. Write on a calendar, keep a journal or a log to document what is happening or what already happened. Keep these documents or any other relevant documents.

Report to Cooley for help and assistance.

The Law School’s policies on reporting and confidentiality are spelled out in the next section. All members of the community are strongly encouraged to report to law enforcement and to the Law School. It is your choice whether or not to make such a report and victims have the right to decline involvement with the police. The law school will assist any victim or witness with notifying local police if desired.

Reporting to your campus Assistant Dean will provide you with needed resources. These could include such things as referrals for medical help, counseling, legal assistance, visa and immigration assistance, and victim advocacy.  The campus Assistant Dean will help to develop a safety plan to reduce risk of harm while on campus or when coming and going from campus. This plan may include, but is not limited to: special parking arrangements, changing classroom location, supervisors, or work location as the situation may require.

Consider a Personal Protection Order.

Protection Orders are civil, not criminal proceedings and are designed to keep the petitioner safe and restrict contact from the respondent. Most offices that help petitioners file for protection have additional resources to provide assistance, and referrals to other sources of help in your community. Cooley Law School complies with Michigan and Florida law in recognizing orders of protection and any person who obtains an order of protection from any state within the United States or a military protection order should provide a copy to the campus Assistant Dean.

  • Personal Protection Orders (PPO) are available in Michigan as a response to a threat of or an incident of domestic violence, dating violence or sexual violence. MCL 600.2950. Every county courthouse in the county where a Michigan campus is located has a PPO office to assist petitioners.
  • Protection Orders/Injunctions are available in Florida for victims of domestic violence, dating violence or sexual violence. Fla. Stat. 784.048. For Tampa campus students, Are You Safe is an agency in Tampa that will assist petitioners with securing a Protection Order or Injunction.

D. Reporting Policies and Confidentiality. 

Students, faculty and staff are required to immediately report criminal actions or other emergencies which occur on Law School property to the Building Access Control Officer or to Law School personnel. Faculty, staff and visitors are encouraged to report all other crimes and suspicious situations in a timely manner. Any situation that could impact the safety of the Cooley community should be reported.

Reporting Options 

Reporting a crime. Victims of a crime and witnesses to a crime are encouraged to make a formal report of the crime to local law enforcement. While the School leaves to law enforcement the investigation and determination of suspected crimes, victims and witnesses are also encouraged to report the crime to the campus Assistant Dean, or the Associate Dean of Students and Professionalism so that the School is aware and can consider making accommodations within the School environment.

Reporting emergency situations. Students, faculty, staff and visitors who witness an emergency situation should call 911 if the situation presents an immediate threat to a person or to property. All emergency situations that occur on Law School premises should be reported to an Access Control Officer.

Reporting sexual misconduct and other forms of harassment. Board Policy 402 prohibits any sexual misconduct or other forms of harassment based upon:

  • gender or sexual orientation;
  • age
  • race or color
  • ethnicity or nationality
  • religion, religious beliefs, or religious practices
  • disability or need for an accommodation
  • pregnancy, marital, or familial status
  • height or weight
  • veteran status
  • any other characteristic protected by law or regulation

Who Do I Report To?

Complaints by Students:

When this person has engaged in harassing conduct toward you, …
… you should report a prompt statement of concern or complaint to:

A Law School student

The Assistant Dean of the alleged victim’s campus, or to the Associate Dean of Students and Professionalism

A Law School faculty member (including adjunct faculty)

The Campus Dean of the alleged victim’s campus

A non-faculty Law School employee

The Campus Dean of the campus where the harassment took place, or to the Vice President of Operations and Finance

A third-party on Law School premises (e.g., a visitor, vendor, etc.)

The Campus Director or Campus Dean of the alleged victim’s campus

Complaints by Law School Employees:

When this person has engaged in harassing conduct toward you, …
… you should report a prompt statement of concern or complaint to:

A Law School student

Your Supervisor or the Campus Dean of the campus where the employee works, or to the Vice President of Operations and Finance

A Law School faculty member (including adjunct faculty)

The Campus Dean of the campus where the employee works, or Vice President of Operations and Finance

A non-faculty Law School employee

Your Supervisor or the Campus Dean of the campus where the employee works, or to the Vice President of Operations and Finance

A third-party on Law School premises (e.g., a visitor, vendor, etc.)

The Campus Director or Campus Dean of the campus where the employee works, or to the Vice President of Operations and Finance

Confidentiality When Reporting to Cooley Personnel

When receiving a report, the Law School will make every effort to preserve an individual’s privacy. If the person does not wish to pursue a criminal complaint, the Law School will honor that request. The Law School’s ability to keep the matter completely confidential is limited, as Title IX still requires the school to investigate the incident, and to take action in response to the complaint.

Reporting to a Cooley Law School employee may require that employee to share the information with the Title IX coordinator. Some Cooley Law School employees are “responsible employees” under Title IX, and they must report incidents (including personally identifying details ) to the Title IX Coordinators (Amy Timmer, Associate Dean of Students and Professionalism (for students), at [email protected]; or Kathy Conklin, Vice President of Operations & Finance (for employees), at [email protected]). Any report of a crime within the geographic location of a Cooley campus is included in our annual crime report (without the name of the complainant). An assessment will be made for purposes of issuing a “timely warning” under the Clery Act considering whether the safety and security of Cooley community could be at risk. The Law School may have a duty to proceed with investigating or determining what occurred, even without the consent of the complainant.

Sharing the information with the Title IX coordinator does not mean that the information is shared with the Law School community. The identity of individuals and circumstances involved in a complaint will be kept confidential to the extent practical, without hindering an investigation, as required by law and Law School policy. If a victim or witness requests that their names be kept confidential, the Title IX Coordinator will consider that request as part of the decision making process. Please note that the School’s Honor Code and Disciplinary Procedures require reporting students to sign a request for investigation that will be shared with suspected victims and violators.

The [email protected] email account has been established for reporting any harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and school related unethical conduct that appears to violate school policies. The email is a report to the Title IX Coordinators. The email address of the reporting person is collected – this is not an anonymous report.

Retaliation Against a Reporting Person is Prohibited

Board Policy 402 strictly prohibits any person from retaliating against another person who either: (1) reports a concern or files a complaint under this Policy based on an honest, good faith perception of the events at issue; or (2) participates or otherwise cooperates in the Law School’s investigation of any harassment complaint.

Any person who believes that he or she has been subjected to retaliation should make a complaint as soon as possible under the guidelines for complaints stated above. Any person who engages in any form of retaliation that violates Board Policy 402 will be subject to discipline, including dismissal from employment or from enrollment with the law school.

E. Disciplinary Process.

The Law School provides regular training on written procedures for reporting, investigating, and promptly resolving all complaints of harassment, including sexual harassment. The Law School will consider all information and evidence relevant to the complaint, including any provided by the complaining party, the alleged harasser, and other witnesses (if any, including those identified by the complaining party and alleged harasser). The Law School will determine whether sexual or other harassment that violates this Policy has occurred based on a preponderance of the evidence. A complete copy can also be found on the Cooley Connect portal.

The Law School may consider aggravating, mitigating, or other extenuating or situational circumstances to decide how to resolve a complaint and, if necessary, impose appropriate remedies or discipline. The Law School may take interim measures before concluding its investigation to protect a complainant from on-going harassment or retaliatory conduct related to the complaint or investigation.

Although the scope and timeframe of the Law School’s investigation will vary from case to case, and is established by specific policies, in all cases the Law School will try to complete its investigation of any complaint within sixty (60) calendar days of when the Law School receives the complaint.

As soon as possible after completing its investigation, and subject to FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) and other applicable School policies, the Law School will provide written notice to both the complaining party and accused harasser of the outcome of its investigation. If the alleged victim is deceased as a result of such crime or offense, the next of kin of such victim shall be treated as the alleged victim for purposes of this paragraph. In all cases, the Law School’s goal will be to prevent harassment from recurring and to correct any discriminatory effects of the harassment on the complaining party and others.

If, after investigating, the Law School determines that an individual has harassed a student, faculty member, or other employee, the Law School will take prompt and effective corrective action to ensure the harassment stops and does not recur. These actions may include:

  • Discipline, up to and including dismissal from employment (for Policy violations by a faculty member or other employee);
  • Discipline, including dismissal from enrollment (for Policy violations by a student); or
  • Removal from Law School facilities (for Policy violations by a visitor, vendor, or other third party).

F. Sexual Offender Registration.

The Campus Sex Crimes Prevention Act (CSPCA) of 2000 is a federal law that requires institutions of higher education to advise the campus community where law enforcement agency information concerning registered sex offenders may be obtained. Sex offenders are required to register, in order to provide notice of each institution of higher education in that state at which the person is employed, carries on a vocation, or is a student.

Michigan's Sex Offenders Registration Act of 1994 was amended by Public Act 542 of 2002 to require that sex offenders provide information to local law enforcement if the offender is working, volunteering or attending an institution of higher learning. The information contained in the Michigan State Police Public Sex Offender Registry (PSOR) is obtained by local law enforcement agencies when sex offenders register with those local agencies. The PSOR is online at It provides the name, address, date of birth, and other information on registered offenders. One can search by zip code or by offender’s name as well as other search options. For questions or concerns regarding the PSOR, contact the Michigan State Police, Investigative Resources Section, Violent Crimes Unit, 2911 Eyde Parkway, Suite 130, East Lansing, MI. 48824, (517) 336-6292 or email [email protected].

The Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s Florida Sexual Offenders and Predators toll free number is: 1.888.357.7332.

G. Educational Programming and Awareness.

The Law School informs students, faculty and staff by written report at least yearly about security procedures and practices on Law School premises.

Three times per year, during each new student orientation session, a live presentation is given to the incoming class. The assistant dean at each campus presents, “Safety and Security on Campus – See Something, Say Something.” An accompanying brochure is given to students identifying law school and community resources. Those resources are also posted on the Cooley Connect portal. Presentation topics include: Domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, sexual assault and harassment, Cooley’s policy and procedures when such allegations are made, the Cooley Sexual Assault and Harassment Policy and procedures, notification requirements related to the Clery Act, the law school’s emergency notification system, school policies prohibiting weapons on campus and substance abuse information and policies.

Newly hired employees also receive the Safety and Security on a Cooley Law School Campus brochure.

Students discuss the legal aspects of rape, acquaintance rape, and other forcible and non-forcible sex offenses in Criminal Law, a required course for all Cooley Law School students. Additional electives include classes entitled “Family Violence” and “Defending Battered Women.” The topics are further studied and explored in three of the Cooley clinics: the Family Law Assistance Project, the Innocence Project and the two Public Defender clinics. Special attention is placed on working with victims of these crimes in the Family Violence and Defending Battered Women classes and in the clinics.

Any complaints related to the school's compliance with the ABA Standards should be directed to the school's Legal Counsel at [email protected].