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Introducing the U.S. Center for SafeSport

08/02/2017, 12:00pm CDT
By U.S. Center for SafeSport

On July 31, 2017, the USA Fencing Board of Directors approved changes to USA Fencing Bylaw Article VII, Section 16, which declares that USA Fencing shall comply with the policies and procedures of the U.S. Center for SafeSport, which was designated by the United States Olympic Committee to investigate and resolve SafeSport violations. 
 
Effective August 1, 2017, the Center will have exclusive authority to investigate and resolve alleged SafeSport Code violations involving sexual misconduct. USA Fencing will retain the authority to investigate and resolve alleged SafeSport Code violations that are non-sexual in nature, including physical misconduct, emotional misconduct, bullying, hazing and harassment; although, at USA Fencing's request, the Center may exercise the discretionary authority to take on these cases.
 
To view the complete meeting agenda, click here.
 
LAUNCH, LOCATION & GOVERNANCE
The U.S. Center for SafeSport is a national nonprofit organization providing education, resources and training to promote respect and prevent abuse in sport. The Center is located in Denver, Colorado, and opened in March 2017.

The Center is governed by a nine-member board of directors, which includes subject-matter experts in the areas of abuse prevention and investigation, ethics compliance and sport administration.

MISSION, PURPOSE & VISION
Mission
To cultivate and steward a culture of dignity and respect in sport.

Purpose
Enable every athlete to thrive by fostering a national sport culture of respect and safety, on and off the field of play.

Vision
Every athlete is safe, supported and strengthened through sport.

  • Safe. Athletes are protected from emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
  • Supported. Athletes enjoy welcome, respectful environments, and diversity is actively embraced.
  • Strengthened. Athletes use the skills they've learned in sport to contribute to the well-being of their communities.

SERVICES
Education and Outreach Office
The Center's Education and Outreach Office will administer prevention programming, raise issue awareness, and provide resources and training to promote respect and prevent misconduct, such as bullying, hazing, harassment and abuse. The Center will:

  • Provide education materials, including talking points, fact sheets, brochures and training materials
  • Centralize best practices, provide self-evaluation tools and offer specialized resources
  • Offer sport organizations easy access to educational opportunities for their coaches, staff, volunteers, parents and athletes

Response and Resolution Office
The Center's Response and Resolution Office will investigate and resolve alleged policy violations for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movements' 47 member National Governing Bodies, including USA Fencing.

  • As a member organization of the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA Fencing has agreed to adhere to the Center's policies and procedures, including the SafeSport Code, which identifies prohibited conduct and serves as the benchmark by which the Center determines whether or not a policy violation has occurred. These policies and procedures also outline:
    • Center jurisdiction and authority
    • Sanctioning guidelines
    • Reporting and confidentiality
    • Resolution procedures, including investigation and arbitration
  • Aggregate data from Center investigations will be used to identify trends and patterns across sport, strengthening national prevention efforts.

JURISDICTION & AUTHORITY
The Center has jurisdiction over Covered Individuals. These are persons:

  • Within the governance or disciplinary jurisdiction of USA Fencing
  • USA Fencing or the USOC authorizes, approves or appoints to a position of authority over athletes or who will have frequent contact with athletes
  • Identified by USA Fencing as being within the Center's jurisdiction

The Center will have the exclusive authority to investigate and resolve alleged SafeSport Code violations involving sexual misconduct. USA Fencing will retain the authority to investigate and resolve alleged SafeSport Code violations that are non-sexual in nature. Although, at USA Fencing's request, the Center may exercise the discretionary authority to take on cases of this nature.
 
Exclusive Authority: All forms of sexual misconduct.
Discretionary Authority: Other policy violations, including physical misconduct, emotional misconduct, bullying, hazing and harassment.
 
REPORTING REQUIREMENTS FOR SAFESPORT CODE VIOLATIONS
All individuals, regardless of membership with USA Fencing, are encouraged to report suspected violations of the SafeSport Code. Covered Individuals who are over the age of 18 are required to report suspected SafeSport Code violations related to or accompanying sexual misconduct. Covered Individuals who fail to report SafeSport Code violations may be subject to disciplinary action.
 
How to Report
Individuals should report suspected SafeSport Code violations directly to the Center.

Reporting to the Center
Online: https://safesport.org/response-resolution/report
Phone: (720) 524-5640
 
Confidentiality
Although the Center cannot guarantee confidentiality, it will, to the greatest extent possible, maintain the privacy of all individuals involved in the investigation and resolution of alleged SafeSport Code violations.

Anonymous Reporting
Anonymous reporting is permitted.

Legally Mandated Reporting
Reporting alleged criminal conduct to USA Fencing or the Center will not satisfy any individual mandatory reporting requirements under state or federal law. Visit https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/systemwide/laws-policies/state/ to view state-by-state mandatory reporting laws to determine your reporting obligations and options.
 
THE INVESTIGATION & RESOLUTION PROCESS
In response to an alleged SafeSport Code violation, the Center may:

  • Initiate an informal resolution
  • Conduct a full investigation
  • Conclude the alleged violation is out of scope and refer the matter to USA Fencing or the U.S. Olympic Committee

Informal Resolution
The Center may conduct an informal inquiry to collect preliminary facts to determine if the matter should be resolved informally, investigated further or not investigated at this time.

Full Investigation
At the start of a full investigation, the Center will provide notice to both involved parties. Each will be given the opportunity to present supporting evidence and provide contact information for potential witnesses. 
 
Investigator's Report
After reviewing the evidence in the case and interviewing relevant witnesses, an investigator will prepare a written report detailing:

  • The facts of the case based on the available evidence
  • Whether or not, based on a preponderance of the evidence, the
  • investigator believes a violation of the SafeSport Code has occurred 
  • Recommended sanctions, if any

Director's Decision
The Center's director of investigations will issue a decision based on the available evidence. If the director determines the individual in question has violated the SafeSport Code, he or she may seek arbitration.

SANCTIONS
The disciplinary process is designed to protect all USA Fencing athletes, members and participants from future misconduct. With this in mind, all recommended sanctions will be reasonable and proportionate to the violation committed and will emphasize education to ensure that minor misconduct does not escalate into a major violation.
 
Imposing Sanctions
In response to the Center's determination that a SafeSport Code violation has occurred, USA Fencing will impose any sanctions recommended by the Center. Potential sanctions include, among others, any combination of the following:

  • Warning
  • Loss of privileges
  • Education
  • Probation
  • Eligibility or participation restrictions

In determining appropriate sanctions, the Center will consider a range of factors, including but not limited to:

  • The seriousness of the violation
  • The ages of the individuals involved
  • Whether or not the alleged policy violator poses an ongoing threat to the safety of others  

Implementation Across the Olympic and Paralympic Movement
Participation restrictions imposed by a USOC-member NGB will be upheld across the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Movement.
 
Visit www.safesport.org to learn more or to view the Center's policies and procedures to determine your responsibilities under the SafeSport Code. The Center's policies and procedures are subject to change. Should the policies and procedures vary from the information contained herein, the policies and procedures will govern.
 
24-HOUR VICTIM SERVICES HELPLINE
The United States Center for SafeSport today also offers a 24-hour victim services helpline, which will be operated in partnership with the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), the nation's largest anti-sexual violence organization.
 
The SafeSport Helpline will provide crisis intervention, referrals and emotional support specifically designed for athletes, staff and other sport participants affected by sexual assault. Through this anonymous and secure service, highly trained specialists will provide live, confidential, one-on-one support by phone or online chat. A mobile application is also available for iOS and Android users.
 
Phone: 866-200-0796
Online chat: https://hotline.rainn.org/safesport
Website: safesporthelpline.org

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