Guidance for Respondents to Accusations of Sexual Misconduct
False accusations do occur… but very rarely. You may not have been aware of the effect of your behaviour on others. You may have misjudged your behaviour.
Being accused of sexual misconduct can be extremely stressful. Support is available.
Remember – sexual misconduct is to be defined by the recipient of the behaviour – not everyone will share your world view, but everyone is entitled to feel safe and respected by those around them.
Listen to the allegation that has been made about your behaviour. Reflect on what you are told. Try to hear all that is said before responding. It may help to take notes.
Reports of sexual misconduct are potentially serious. There may be legal implications. There may be implications within your workplace. There certainly will be emotional implications. There are sources of support that can help:
1. British Medical Association - Free and confidential 24/7 counselling line and peer support service open to all doctors and medical students.
Helpline: 0330 123 1245
2. The Samaritans - You don’t have to feel suicidal to get in touch. Only 1 person in 5 who calls Samaritans says that they feel suicidal.
Helpline: 116 123
3. Deanery - Your TPD or Head of School will offer confidential, non-judgmental practical support and signpost you to service that will help to support you such as Professional Support and Wellbeing Services.
Your medical defence provider may be able to assist, and you may need to consider engaging independent legal advice.
You should keep contemporaneous records of the allegation that has been made. You should write down your recollection of the incident/s. Consider whether there is information to gather that might be helpful. For example, you might gather text messages, emails, Facebook postings, or other social media postings. If you have already deleted text messages, contact your phone carrier to find out if they can be recovered. If you think of possible witnesses, it might be helpful to write down their names so that you do not forget them later, when asked as part of the investigation.
You should write a reflection regarding the allegation.
Be aware that retaliation against a Complainant, or any behaviour that could be interpreted as such, will not only make the situation worse but result in additional complaints of misconduct and possible sanctions.
Do not contact the alleged Complainant or their friends through any means — in person, by phone, by mail, by social media, via electronic communication, or through someone else.