Sexual Incident Report
Foreword: This is not legal advice, simply a prudent approach to implement.
When a complaint is brought forward by a fellow colleague or a staff worker against another member of the Board (or company, organization, etc.) the ‘Board Authority’ (senior member in charge) is advised that an Incident Report should be created as soon as possible.
A timely record of all the allegations and circumstances will best serve all the parties as further events unfold on the matter. The following steps are recommended in order to mitigate unnecessary complications, miscarriage of justice and ensure fairness.
Advise the Complainant to immediately report the matter to the appropriate authorities. This may include the police, paramedics, their employer, Integrity Commissioner, the Labour Relations Board, their Union, Workers’ Compensation, Ombudsman, Code of Conduct investigator, lawyer, etc. If the complaint concerns harassment, it should be immediately reported to the police. If it involves physical harm, the Complainant must immediately report to a hospital for treatment.
If there is physical bruising, photos must immediately be taken.
After the Complainant has been advised to report the matter to the authorities, an Incident Report (the ‘Report’) should now be prepared by the Board Authority. The Report should note whether the Complainant was advised to report the matter to the various authorities and whether this was done.
The Report to be taken must be done in a formal, professional setting as follows:
Set up an appointment and include another colleague (your Assistant) who will witness the proceedings. It’s important that your Assistant be of the same gender as the Complainant. It will help reduce the stress level of the Complainant as well as induce greater comfort and confidence. It will also help in ensuring that the Report was done properly without the appearance of bias from the Board Authority (who may be of a different gender to the Complainant).
It may be helpful to have the Complainant invite a friend (not a witness to the incident) who will sit in on the interview and whose presence is simply to provide a sense of comfort for the Complainant, (who may be emotionally distraught at this time). The friend is for emotional comfort – not to engage in the proceedings.
Point out to the Complainant that you will need as much detail as possible and it will not reflect any doubts about the incident. Rather, it is intended to provide all the necessary details of the circumstance including the conduct of the Accused.
The questions asked may be difficult but are designed to accurately recall the incident. If the Complainant is unsure or cannot remember, point out that as days pass, they may recall more details and any additional information will be welcomed.
Assure the Complainant they may request an explanation if they do not understand what is being asked. Furthermore, they may also enquire why a particular question is being asked and decline to answer.
Write out the details as listed in Step 5. Ensure that any witnesses to the incident are also identified and interviewed. Their statements should be taken separately. The witness(es) list should remain confidential at this time.
Step 5 – Incident Report
Name, address and contact numbers of the Complainant.
Name, address and contact numbers of any witnesses to the incident.
Name, address and contact numbers of the Accused.
Name, address and contact numbers of the Board Authority and the Assistant.
These contact details are to be kept confidential at this time (especially from the Accused).
who was involved
when it happened (day, month, year)
where it happened
In as much detail as possible, describe what happened. Do not paraphrase – use the exact wording of the Complainant. It’s important that the Board Authority not conduct the interview by asking leading questions or paraphrasing or changing choice of words. The narrative should be in the Complainant’s or witnesses’ wording.
If the incident happened in more than one place, identify each location. Describe the circumstances that led up to the incident.
If the incident occurred a considerable time ago, the Complainant should explain the reason for delaying reporting the matter. The event should be told in chronological order, starting from the beginning and end on the date of the most recent incident. Every incident should be noted.
If there was a series of incidents, (between Complainant and the same Accused), it should be noted how the incidents are connected with each other. If there is a gap of more than one year between incidents in a series, make note of this and add any comments about this gap. The date of the most recent incident is very important. Were there previous exchanges between the parties that may have contributed to this incident?
Was the Complainant advised to report the incident to the various authorities? Did the Complainant do so? If so, to which authority was the matter reported and list the contact’s details of name, address, phone, email, file number, etc. Also list what resulted from such action; such as, was an investigation started? Was the Complainant treated for injury, etc?
Upon completion of the Incident Report, advise the Complainant that there should not be further contact between the parties until the matter is investigated and resolved. Nor should there be any effort at retaliation.
Upon completion, the Accused should be notified by the Board Authority that a complaint has been made and that contact between the parties is to be avoided until the matter is resolved. This message should include a caution against retaliation, as well.
An important part of this process is to avoid or mitigate any further contact between the parties that would exacerbate the matter. By preventing contact, it avoids any repetition of the alleged behaviour or further misconduct by one of the parties against the other.
The finished statement of the Complainant will be signed by the Complainant indicating she/he agrees with the narrative written in the Report.
Give a complete and dated copy of the Report to the Complainant.
The witness(es) will also sign his/her version of what happened and their narrative will be Reported separately (even if it repeats the Complainant’s). It’s best to take the statements separately otherwise all the narratives will end up repeating, “Yes, what he/she said happened that way”.