Sexual Assault: Definition of Terms

See also: Sexual Assault Violence Prevention

From Vassar College Regulations (PDF):

SECTION 16: Sexual Offenses

Vassar College expects that sexual activity among members of the college community and its guest will involve only consenting, mutually interested individuals. Absent consent, sexual activity that is exploitative, coercive, and/or violent constitutes harassment (cf. §4.02), sexual abuse, or rape. Any behavior on the part of a member of the college community, its guests, or its visitors that constitutes a sexual offense is in violation of college regulations and will not be tolerated.

Victims are strongly encouraged to contact any of a variety of offices and support services on campus, such as Safety and Security, the Dean of Students, Health Services, Counseling Service, C.A.R.E.S., S.A.R.T., Residential Life, and the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life. For a detailed list of campus resources, please see Part C: Resources Available to All Members of the College Community. Victims are also encouraged to access resources available in the Poughkeepsie community, including S.A.F.E. units at local hospitals, the Town of Poughkeepsie Police Department, and/or the District Attorney's Office.

Definition of Terms. The following definitions are applicable to the College Regulations governing Sexual Offenses. Except where noted, definitions parallel, but should not be construed as exactly duplicating, the definitions used in New York State law.

  1. "Sexual contact" means any touching of the sexual or other intimate parts of a person for the purpose of gratifying sexual desire of any involved party. It includes the touching of an actor by the victim, as well as the touching of the victim by an actor, whether directly or through clothing.
  2. "Sexual intercourse"i means any sexual contact between the penis and vagina, penis and the anus, the mouth and penis, or the mouth and the vulva.
  3. "Mentally disabled"ii means that a person suffers from a mental disease or disability that renders him or her persistently incapable of appraising the nature of his or her conduct.
  4. "Mentally incapacitated" means that a person is rendered temporarily incapable of appraising or controlling his or her conduct due to the influence of a narcotic or intoxicating substance, or due to any act committed upon him or her without consent.
  5. "Physically helpless" means that a person is unconscious or is physically unable to communicate unwillingness to an act for any other reason.
  6. "Forcible compulsion" means compulsion by the threat or the use of physical force, either expressed or implied, which places a person in fear of immediate death, physical injury to himself, herself or another person, places a person in fear that he, she or another person will immediately be kidnapped, or places a person in fear of personal, emotional, social, economic, or academic harm.

Lack of Consent. Whether or not specifically stated, it is an element of every sexual offense covered here that the sexual act was committed without consent of the victim. Lack of consent results from: forcible compulsion, incapacity to consent, or any circumstances in which the victim does not expressly or impliedly acquiesce in the actor's conduct. A person is deemed incapable of consent when according to the definitions above he or she is: less than seventeen years old, mentally defective, mentally incapacitated, or physically helpless.

Introduction to Offenses. The following three sections (§§ 15.01-03) constitute the Sexual Offenses that may be charged and adjudicated under the College Regulations.

16.01 Sexual Abuse occurs when one person has sexual contact with another 101 person without the latter's consent. The severity of offense is elevated by the use of forcible compulsion or when the latter person is unable to consent due to physical helplessness. The minimum sanction for any student found guilty of sexual abuse will be immediate suspension for the remainder of the current semester. More serious sanctions may include, but are not limited to, immediate expulsion from the college.

16.02 Aggravated Sexual Abuse occurs when a person inserts a finger or a foreign object in the vagina, urethra, penis, or rectum of another person by forcible compulsion, or when the latter person is incapable of consent by reason of physical helplessness, or when the latter person is under the age of consent. The severity of offense is elevated when the insertion causes physical injury to the latter person. Any charge of Aggravated Sexual Abuse requires a concurrent charge of Sexual Abuse. The minimum sanction for aggravated sexual abuse will be suspension for the remainder of the current semester and the entirety of the following semester. More serious sanctions may include, but are not limited to, immediate expulsion from the college.

16.03 Rape occurs when a person has sexual intercourse with another person without the latter's consent. The severity of offense is elevated by the use of forcible compulsion or when the latter person is unable to consent by reason of physical helplessness. Any charge of Rape requires concurrent charges of Sexual Abuse and Aggravated Sexual Abuse. The minimum sanction for Rape is immediate suspension for the remainder of the current semester and the entirety of the following semester. More serious sanctions may include, but are not limited to, immediate expulsion from the college. It is important to note that actions leading to a charge of Rape under the College Regulations may lead either to a charge of Rape (NYS §§ 130.25/.30/.35) or to a charge of Sodomy (NYS §§ 130.40/.45/.50) under New York State penal code depending on the circumstances of the offense.

i This definition combines those of "sexual intercourse" and "sodomy" in NYS law.

ii NYS law: "Mentally Defective"

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