The Catholic University of America

Sexual Misconduct Policy

Approved by: President
History: Issued   -- June 17, 1993  
  Revised -- August 22, 2013                                  
  Additional History
Related Policies: Code of Student Conduct; Sexual Misconduct Grievance Procedures; Sexual Harassment Policy; Sexual Harassment Complaint Procedures; Non-Retaliation Policy
Additional References: Dean of Students Sexual Violence Prevention website; Equal Opportunity Officer/Title IX Coordinator Compliance Partner web page; Title IX Website
Responsible Official: Dean of Students tel. (202) 319-5619

I.        Introduction

The University affirms that sexual relationships are designed by God to be expressed solely within a marriage between husband and wife. Sexual acts of any kind outside the confines of marriage are contrary to the teachings and moral values of the Catholic Church and are prohibited in the University’s Code of Student Conduct. The Catholic University of America promotes respect for persons' bodily integrity, chastity, and the sacredness of human sexuality. 

While sexual activity outside of marriage violates the Church’s teaching and the University’s Code of Student Conduct, “sexual misconduct,” defined below, is criminal behavior that will not be tolerated; violations can result in disciplinary sanctions including expulsion, as well as criminal prosecution or other legal action.

Students who report sexual misconduct shall be informed of and encouraged to use all appropriate University, law enforcement, and community resources.  Those accused of sexual misconduct shall receive due process in accordance with University policies and procedures.

Any actual or threatened retaliation or any act of intimidation to prevent or otherwise obstruct the reporting of sexual misconduct or the participation in proceedings related to sexual misconduct by an accused student or third party is prohibited and will result in disciplinary sanctions.

The University believes that no person should bear the effects of sexual misconduct alone.  When such incidents occur, the University’s paramount concern is for the safety, health, and well-being of those affected.  To support and assist students, the University provides a wide range of services and resources.  Please see the section below on Resources for Medical, Counseling and Pastoral Care and the Dean of Student’s Sexual Violence Prevention website.

II.       Definitions of Sexual Misconduct

A student can face significant disciplinary sanctions, including expulsion, as well as criminal prosecution or other legal action, for the following:

A.  Sexual Assault is any sexual intercourse by any person upon another with force or without consent. It includes oral, anal and vaginal penetration, to any degree, with any object.


B.  Non-consensual Sexual Contact is any sexual touching with any object, by any person upon another, without consent. Sexual touching is contact of a sexual nature, however slight.


C.  Other prohibited forms of Sexual Misconduct include any conduct prohibited by applicable law, such as: sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, stalking, indecent exposure; sending obscene materials to others; prostitution or the solicitation or employment of a prostitute; peeping or other voyeurism; or indecent conduct such as the non-consensual video or audio recording of sexual activity.


D.  Consent is informed, freely given, mutually understandable words or actions that indicate a willingness to participate in sexual activity. Effective consent may never be obtained when there is a threat of force or violence, or any other form of coercion or intimidation. A current or previous dating or sexual relationship is not sufficient to constitute consent, and consent to one form of sexual activity does not imply consent to other forms of sexual activity. Consent cannot be obtained from a minor or someone who is unable to understand or who cannot communicate a lack of consent.  This includes someone who is unconscious or asleep, or who is incapacitated due to drugs, alcohol or some other condition.  Silence or lack of active resistance does not imply consent. 


The definitions above describe the minimum legal standards for conduct, and they set forth terms that help determine criminal liability and legal responsibility.  The University and the Church have higher expectations.  They affirm that sexual activity is intended by God as an expression of love and commitment between a husband and wife, and therefore belongs exclusively within marriage.  Sexual activity by unmarried persons lacks that essential level of commitment and responsibility, and harms moral growth and development. It undermines the Christian view of sexual activity embraced and promoted by the Church and the University, a view which insists upon mutual respect, moral integrity, and the sacredness of human sexuality.


III.       Reporting and University Response Steps

To report an incident of sexual misconduct, contact the Department of Public Safety (DPS) at tel. (202) 319-5111.  DPS is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and will contact the DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) or other local law enforcement agencies as necessary.   Individuals who have been subjected to sexual misconduct are always free to report it directly to local law enforcement, but should contact DPS, who will assist them in contacting the appropriate authorities.
A student always has the option to pursue a criminal complaint with the appropriate law enforcement agency, to pursue the University’s disciplinary process, or to pursue both processes simultaneously.

Reports may also be made to the Equal Opportunity Officer/Title IX Coordinator at tel. (202) 319-6594 or the Dean of Students at tel. (202) 319-5619.

If a report of sexual misconduct is made to any staff or faculty member of the University, the faculty or staff member shall contact the Department of Public Safety at tel. (202) 319-5111.  DPS shall inform the Dean of Students, the Equal Opportunity Officer/Title IX Coordinator and the General Counsel.

At times, students are hesitant to report the occurrence of a sexual misconduct to University officials because they are concerned that they themselves or witnesses may be charged with other lesser policy violations (e.g. visitation or alcohol violations). The importance of dealing with alleged sexual misconduct is a paramount consideration.  Accordingly, in these cases, the University may postpone its decisions regarding other disciplinary action against a student who makes a report of sexual misconduct, or against a witness to the incident.   

A student who has made a report of sexual misconduct will be referred to the Dean of Students, who will appoint a trained resource person to identify, explain and navigate the available support services.  This includes information regarding counseling, educational support, pastoral care, medical treatment, and information about University disciplinary action.  The Dean of Students can also provide assistance in rearranging class schedules and housing; every effort will be made to accommodate all reasonable requests, to protect the student and the campus community, and to minimize the impact on the student’s educational program.  When appropriate, the Dean of Students may issue no-contact orders to the students involved. DPS shall be notified when an order of no contact is issued.   Further steps may be taken by the Dean of Students in his/her discretion.

IV.       Resources for Medical, Counseling and Pastoral Care

It is especially important for students who report having been subjected to sexual misconduct to seek immediate and appropriate medical treatment. Following such incidents, students should not shower, eat, change clothes or brush teeth prior to seeking medical attention.

Student Health Services is open from Monday through Friday from 9 am – 5 pm during the academic year and is equipped to provide confidential and professional medical care.  SHS can be reached in the Kane Health & Fitness Center or at tel. (202) 319-5744.  While the SHS staff is unable to collect evidence for the purposes of pursuing criminal prosecution, they can provide assistance and support when a student requests or requires transportation to the hospital. 

The SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) Program* at Washington Hospital Center (WHC) provides comprehensive nursing care, medical testing, forensic evidence collection, and support services free of charge within four days (96 hours) of the assault. 

A student will not be required to file a police report if a SANE nurse collects evidence but is always free to do so. The SANE Program will hold evidence collected for 90 days should the complainant choose to file a report with MPD within that time.

A student who goes to a hospital other than WHC may request to be transported to WHC for evidence collection and a physical exam

The University Counseling Center is staffed by trained professionals who can provide specialized support and assistance to students who have been subjected to sexual misconduct.  Current students may seek counseling at any time, no matter how long ago the incident occurred.  Counseling services also are available to friends of a victim who may need support in assisting the student.  The Counseling Center can be reached at tel. (202) 319-5765 or at

The Campus Ministry staff is trained to provide pastoral counseling and support to students or to friends who wish to support and assist them. Campus Ministry can be reached at tel. (202) 319-5575 or at

The on-campus resources listed above are available to all Catholic University students including victims, accused students and witnesses in sexual misconduct cases.

In addition to campus counseling, students may contact local community resources, including the DC Rape Crisis Center [24-hour Hotline: tel. (202) 333-7273; Business: tel. (202) 232-0789; web site] The DC Rape Crisis Center can send an advocate to the hospital to assist throughout the evidence collection process. A list of community resources and area hospitals is also available in the Office of the Dean of Students.

V.       Confidentiality

Under DC law, an adult (18 years or older) with a complaint of sexual misconduct may speak confidentially, subject to the limitations discussed below, with certain persons in legally protected roles. These roles include professional counselors (including but not limited to those in the CUA Counseling Center), physicians (including but not limited to those in the CUA Student Health Services), clergy when the communication is made in their professional capacity of giving religious or spiritual advice, and licensed rape crisis/sexual assault counselors. The professional being consulted should make any limits upon confidentiality clear before a student-client begins to provide information.  In situations where disclosure is not required by law, professionals are encouraged to inform students being counseled of procedures for voluntarily reporting the incident to law enforcement authorities.

The University will make every reasonable effort to preserve an individual’s privacy and protect the confidentiality of information.  At the same time, the University has the responsibility to protect the community at large.  In light of this responsibility, certain cases may warrant investigation regardless of the preferences of the individual reporting the incident.

VI.       Prevention Education

The University’s Sexual Assault Prevention education is coordinated through the Office of the Dean of Students.  Through collaborative efforts with other University departments, the Office of the Dean of Students works to prevent sexual violence and harassment through education, awareness and skill building. Programs include self-defense workshops, educational seminars, peer theater, advocacy projections, resource information, and referral and Sexual Assault Awareness Week. See Sexual Assault Education and Awareness for further information.

VII.      University Disciplinary Action

Allegations of sexual misconduct may be adjudicated under the disciplinary procedures outlined in the Code of Student Conduct, regardless of whether they are also reported as a crime to local police or the subject of any criminal or civil action. Disciplinary action at the University may proceed while criminal or civil proceedings are pending, and will not be subject to challenge on the grounds that criminal charges involving the same incident have been dismissed or reduced, that no criminal charges have been brought, or that any civil action has been dismissed. Penalties shall be administered independent of any pending civil or criminal action or settlement reached. The full range of disciplinary sanctions, including expulsion from the University, may be considered, depending on the nature and severity of the offense.

Both the student subjected to the misconduct and the accused student shall have the same opportunities to have an advisor present during a disciplinary proceeding and shall be informed of the final determination and any sanctions imposed against the accused student for a finding of sexual misconduct. Proceedings will not be dismissed simply because the accused student withdraws from the University.

In addition to the foregoing, consensual sexual activity is contrary to the Church’s teaching and is prohibited by a range of sanctions under the University’s Code of Student Conduct.

VIII.      Mandatory Reporting of Child Sexual Assault/Abuse

DC Code §4-1321.02 requires that certain persons make a report of child (a minor under 18 years of age) sexual assault/abuse to the DC Child and Family Services Agency or to MPD at tel. (202) 576-6768.
The persons required to make a report include the following: Physician, psychologist, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, person involved in the care and treatment of patients, law-enforcement officer, school official, teacher/faculty member, athletic coach, social service worker, day care worker, and mental health professional as defined in DC Code §7-1201.01(11). Priests are required to report sexual assault or abuse of a minor in accord with the Archdiocese of Washington Child Protection Policy.


* Compassionate and understanding care should be given to a person who is the victim of sexual assault. Health care providers should cooperate with law enforcement officials and offer the person psychological and spiritual support as well as accurate medical information. A female who has been raped should be able to defend herself against a potential conception from the sexual assault. If, after appropriate testing, there is no evidence that conception has occurred already, she may be treated with medications that would prevent ovulation, sperm capacitation, or fertilization. It is not permissible, however, to initiate or to recommend treatments that have as their purpose or direct effect the removal, destruction, or interference with the implantation of a fertilized ovum.  Source: Directive 36 of the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, Fifth Edition, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (November 17, 2009)