The Catholic University of America

Archived 8/11/08

Student Life: Sexual Assault

I. Introduction

The Catholic University of America acknowledges the moral, legal, physical and psychological seriousness of all sexual assaults, including that commonly designated as acquaintance rape or forced sexual behavior, including intercourse, between persons who already know one another, however casually. The optimal approach and most appropriate solution to this issue is for all persons to develop and live by a value system that respects other persons' bodily integrity and the sacredness of human sexuality. The university is committed to pursuing that goal in its educational and developmental programs. Inappropriate sexual contact or activity of any kind is prohibited on campus.

II. Definition
As stated in the Code of Student Conduct ("Code"), available in the Student Handbook and online, sexual assault is defined as forcing, threatening or coercing an individual into sexual contact against his or her free will without his or her consent or when consent is given under duress. This includes, but is not limited to, any sexual act performed on an individual, any sexual act required to be performed by an individual, or forced or coerced intercourse. Having sexual contact with a person while knowing or having reason to know that the person is incapacitated by alcohol and/or other drugs or by other means is considered against free will.

III. Statement on Sexual Assault

Sexual assault, including acquaintance rape, will not be tolerated. Sexual assault by any student member of the campus community is a violation of accepted student behavior that, in addition to other consequences, can lead to campus disciplinary action.

Students have the right to have any and all reported sexual assaults treated with seriousness and to be treated justly and with dignity throughout the process. Students will not be pressured to suppress a sexual assault report. Students will not be made to think that they are somehow responsible for the commission of the crime against them; or that the victim was contributory negligent by assuming the risk of being assaulted by reason of circumstances of dress or behavior; or that the victim or the university would incur unwanted publicity.

IV. What To Do In The Event Of A Sexual Assault

Any student who has been a victim of a sexual assault should, as soon as possible:

1. Report the incident to the Department of Public Safety at 202-319-5111. Please note that DPS is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, victims/survivors of sexual

assault are strongly encouraged to report sexual assault to the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department. Students may receive assistance with this reporting from the Department of Public Safety.

2. Seek medical attention and do not interfere with the preservation of evidence (e.g., do not bathe or change clothing).

3. Meet with a professional staff member in the Office of the Dean of Students. Upon request by either party, the university will help to prevent any unwanted contact between the complainant and the accused by, for example, making reasonably available changes to academic schedules and/or housing situations.

V. Confidentiality

The university will make every reasonable effort to preserve an individual's privacy and protect the confidentiality of information. The degree to which confidentiality can be protected, however, depends upon the professional role of the person being consulted. The professional being consulted should make these limits clear before any disclosure of facts. The university has the responsibility to protect the community at large. In light of this responsibility, certain cases may warrant investigation and resolution beyond the solution desired by the reporter.

An individual can speak confidentially with certain persons in legally protected roles. These roles include (professional) counselors in the Counseling Center and off-campus, medical clinicians, clergy, and (professional) sexual assault counselors. However, professional and pastoral counselors are encouraged to inform students being counseled of voluntary disclosure procedures. Victims/survivors are encouraged to seek counseling in order to speak confidentially with a professional and begin the recovery period. In addition to campus counseling, students may contact local community resources, including the D.C. Rape Crisis Center [Hotline: (202) 333-7273; Business: (202) 232-0789.] A list of community resources and area hospitals is also available in the Office of the Dean of Students.

VI. Prevention Education

CUA's Sexual Assault Prevention Programs work to prevent sexual violence and harassment through education, awareness and skill building. Programs include educational seminars, resource information and referral, and new student orientation. Student Health Services is a comprehensive resource center that contains journals, books and videos on a wide range of contemporary college health issues including sexual assault. Self-Defense Workshops instructors teach coed self-defense workshops on campus. Classes are two hours long and cover physical and verbal tactics for preventing sexual assault.

VII. Campus Disciplinary Action

Allegations of sexual assault may be adjudicated under the disciplinary procedures outlined in the Code. In addition, students may be accountable both to civil/criminal authorities for acts that constitute violations of law. Disciplinary action at the university will normally proceed during the pendency of criminal proceedings, and will not be subject to challenge on the grounds that criminal charges involving the same incident have been dismissed or reduced or that no criminal charges have been brought. Penalties shall not be increased in severity because civil or criminal action may be pending. Sanctions for a finding of sexual assault ordinarily range, depending on the nature and severity, from disciplinary probation to suspension from the university. Both the complainant and the respondent shall have the same opportunities to have an adviser present during a disciplinary proceeding and shall be informed of the final determination and any sanctions imposed against the respondent as a result of the sexual assault charge.