Approved by: The President
History: Issued              -- March 31, 1987
Revised            -- November 18, 2020
Last Reviewed -- November 18, 2020
Related Policies: Code of Conduct; Conflict of Interest Policy for Staff and Faculty; Employment Practices and Procedures; Non-Discrimination, Anti-Harassment, and Title IX Compliance Policy; Non-Retaliation Policy; Sexual Offenses Policy (Students); Title IX Policy
Additional References: DC Rape Crisis Center; Employee Assistance Program; Network for Victim Recovery of DC (NVRDC); Sexual Offenses Grievance Procedure for Employees; Title IX Website
Responsible Official: Title IX Coordinator tel. (202) 319-4117

Policy Statement


The Catholic University of America is committed to maintaining a positive learning and working environment. The Catholic University of America, guided by reason and the light of Catholic faith, is a community dedicated to the cultivation of knowledge, skills, wisdom, and virtue. Catholic teaching and university policy require respect for the dignity of others. Membership in the University community brings with it the obligation to conduct oneself in ways that promote these goals. Consequently, the University expects a higher standard of behavior than the law requires.

Sexual offenses, as defined below, are unlawful behavior that will not be tolerated; violations can result in disciplinary actions, including termination, as well as criminal prosecution or other legal action. Individuals who report that they are the victim of a sexual offense ("complainants") shall be informed of and encouraged to use all appropriate University, law enforcement, and community resources. The same resources are available to victims when the report comes from a third party such as a friend or witness. Individuals accused of committing sexual offenses ("respondents") shall be informed of and encouraged to use all appropriate University and community resources and shall receive due process in accordance with University policies and procedures.

Actual or threatened retaliation, or any act of intimidation to prevent or obstruct the reporting of a sexual offense or participation in proceedings related to a sexual offense, is prohibited.

The University believes that no person should bear the effects of a sexual offense alone. When offenses occur, the University's paramount concern is for the safety, health, and well-being of those affected. To support and assist victims, 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.

Additional information about identifying, reporting and dealing with sexual assault is set forth in the following policy, on the University's Title IX Website, and in the Related Policies listed above.

II. Scope


This policy applies when any faculty or staff employee or a third party (such as a vendor, independent contractor, visitor, or guest) is a respondent. It also applies to alleged offenses by a student when the alleged offenses were committed while acting with academic or supervisory authority over students or while the respondent was acting in an employment capacity.  The University's Sexual Offenses Policy for Students applies when a respondent is a student when the alleged behavior was not committed in an employment or supervisory capacity.  In cases where it is unclear whether the University should follow this policy or the Sex Offenses Policy (Employees and Third Parties), the University's Title IX Coordinator will decide. This policy applies to both on and off-campus conduct that creates a hostile environment at the University or in a University-sponsored activity or program.

III. Prohibited Conduct and Definitions1


B. Sexual Offense 


Sexual Offenses are prohibited in all forms. "Sexual Offense" is a broad term encompassing a range of behaviors including, but not limited to: sexual assault; sexual harassment; dating violence; domestic violence; stalking; indecent exposure; sexual exhibitionism; use of communication systems to send unwanted sexual material and messages; prostitution or the solicitation or employment of a prostitute; peeping or other voyeurism; allowing others to view consensual sexual activity; the non-consensual video or audio recording of sexual activity; or any conduct prohibited by applicable law. An employee can face significant disciplinary sanctions, up to and including termination, as well as criminal prosecution or other legal action, for committing a sexual offense.

1. Sexual Assault

Sexual Assault is sexual intercourse or sexual contact with another person without consent. Sexual assault is a criminal offense under D.C. law and includes the following:

  • Oral, vaginal, or anal penetration, no matter how slight, with any object or body part without consent.
  • Non-consensual touching of another person in a sexual manner. This includes, but is not limited to, the touching either directly or through clothing of another person's genitalia, breasts, inner thigh, or buttocks with a clothed or unclothed body part or object.

2. Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when either:

  1. submission to the conduct is made a term or condition of an individual’s employment or education; or
  2. rejection of the conduct is used as a basis for decisions affecting an individual’s education or employment, or
  3. inappropriate or unwelcome conduct based on protected status is so severe or pervasive that it alters the conditions of education, employment, or participation in a program or activity, thereby creating an environment that a reasonable person in similar circumstances would find hostile or offensive.  A single or isolated incident of harassment may create a hostile environment if the incident is sufficiently severe. 

Because the University expects a higher standard of behavior than the law requires, inappropriate conduct that does not rise to the level of a hostile environment may still violate this policy.

Harassment may include the following types of sexual misconduct:

  • Verbal abuse, slurs, derogatory comments or insults about, directed at or made in the presence of an individual or group;
  • Display or circulation of written materials or pictures that are offensive or degrading;
  • Physical contact, or threatening language or behavior; or
  • Other conduct that interferes with an individual’s performance; limits participation in University activities; or otherwise creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive University environment.

3. Dating Violence

Dating Violence means felony or misdemeanor violence committed by another person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim, and where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors: a) the length of the relationship, b) the character of the relationship, and c) the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.

4. Domestic Violence

Domestic violence means felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence committed by a current or former spouse or intimate partner of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse or intimate partner, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the District of Columbia, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the District of Columbia.

5. Stalking

Stalking means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of others or suffer substantial emotional distress.

B. Consent


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 can be revoked at any time. Consent cannot be obtained from someone legally prevented from giving consent by their age or from 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.

C. Incapacitation


Incapacitation means the inability, temporarily or permanently, to give consent, because an individual is mentally and/or physically helpless, asleep, unconscious, or unaware that sexual activity is occurring. The impact of alcohol and drugs and medications will vary from person to person. Warning signs that a person may be approaching incapacitation may include, but are not limited to, vomiting, incoherent speech, and difficulty walking or standing up. The perspective of a sober, reasonable person in the position of the respondent will be the basis for determining whether a respondent should have been aware that the complainant was incapacitated and therefore unable to consent.

D. Mandatory Reporter


Mandatory Reporter means an employee who has:

  1. The authority to take action to redress sexual violence or other sexual offenses; or
  2. Been given the duty of reporting incidents of sexual violence or other sexual offenses to the Title IX Coordinator, or who an employee could reasonably believe has this authority or duty.

See the list of the University Mandatory Reporters.

IV. Reporting Sexual Offenses


A. Where to Make a Report


To report a sexual offense, contact the Department of Public Safety (DPS) at tel. (202) 319-5111 or the University’s Title Title IX Coordinator and Equal Opportunity Officer at tel. 202-319-4177,, Leahy Hall 170. An individual who has been subjected to a sexual offense is always free to report it directly to local law enforcement, but also should contact DPS, who will assist him or her in contacting the appropriate authorities.

An employee also has the option of contacting the Office for Civil Rights regarding sex discrimination issues at: Washington D.C. (Metro), Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education, 400 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20202-1475, Telephone: (202) 453-6020, FAX: (202) 453-6021; TDD: 800-877-8339, e-mail:

The foregoing information is also available on the University's Title IX Website.

If a report of a sexual offense is made by an employee to any staff or faculty member of the University who is a Mandatory Reporter (defined above), the Mandatory Reporter must contact either the Department of Public Safety or the Title IX Coordinator. All other members of the University community, except those designated as confidential resources in legally-protected roles (see section III.C below), are strongly encouraged to report sexual offenses in accordance with the reporting processes above.

Filing a report of an alleged sexual offense does not obligate an individual to participate in the complaint process. The complainant always has the option to pursue a criminal complaint, to pursue the University's disciplinary process, to pursue both processes simultaneously or to elect not to pursue any available process.

B. Privacy


The University is committed to protecting the privacy of all individuals involved in a reported sexual offense. Information related to a report of an offense, aside from information disclosed to persons in legally-protected roles as described below, will only be shared with individuals whose duties require access to such information. No other persons will receive any information related to the report or investigation absent a valid subpoena or court order.

If a reported sexual offense discloses an immediate threat to the campus community, the University shall issue a timely notice of the incident in the interests of the health and safety of the campus community.

C. Confidentiality


If a report is made to the University, the University also recognizes that a complainant may desire confidentiality and may not want the University to investigate or attempt to resolve the incident. While the University will make every reasonable effort to honor the complainant's request for confidentiality, the University must balance this request against its responsibility to protect the community. In light of this responsibility, the University reserves the right to investigate and to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for the campus community. When the University cannot comply with a request for confidentiality, the University will consult with that individual and keep the complainant informed throughout the process.

If an individual desires to seek confidential assistance without a report to the University, that individual may speak with certain persons in legally-protected roles. Information disclosed about the alleged offense to persons in legally-protected roles acting in their professional capacities may not be revealed to any other person without the express permission of the disclosing individual, unless there is an immediate threat to health or safety, the conduct involves the abuse of a minor (see section IX, below), or there is another basis for disclosure permitted or required by law. Legally-protected roles where confidential assistance may be sought include:

  1. Professional mental health counselors
  2. Physicians and others licensed to practice medicine in the state or district where they are practicing and who are acting in their health care role.
  3. Clergy when the communication is made in their professional capacity of giving religious or spiritual advice, and
  4. Appropriately licensed rape crisis/sexual assault counselors

Note: If the employees listed in the categories above are made aware of crimes or offenses outside of their professional capacities, those employees may be considered Responsible Employees (defined above) for reporting sexual offenses.

V. Non-Retaliation


Actual or threatened retaliation, or any act of intimidation to prevent or obstruct the reporting of a sexual offense or the participation in proceedings related to a sexual offense, is prohibited pursuant to the University's Non-Retaliation Policy and will result in disciplinary action regardless of the outcome of the underlying complaint of a sexual offense.

VI. University Response to Reports of Sexual Offenses


DPS, the Title IX Coordinator and Equal Opportunity Officer, or the Dean of Students Office will ensure that reporting students  can immediately receive support, be informed of available services, and, if necessary, be protected through a no contact order. The Title IX Coordinator will track all investigations for the University, and advise participants in the process as appropriate. The University will conduct prompt and thorough investigations into all complaints of sexual offenses filed with the Title IX Coordinator/Equal Opportunity Officer. All faculty and staff employees must fully and in a timely way cooperate with investigations into complaints under this policy. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment. Cooperation with investigations is also required by the University’s Internal Investigations Policy and Code of Conduct for Staff and Faculty.

VII.  Applicability to Title IX


In addition to being a possible violation of this policy, some sexual offenses may also fall under the scope of Title IX.  Title IX imposes narrower definitions in some areas than this policy.  For example, Title IX does not apply to conduct that occurs off campus that is not part of a University program.  It also does not apply to conduct that occurs outside of the United States even in the context of a University program.  Similarly, Title IX’s definition of sexual harassment requires that it be so severe, pervasive, AND objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the University’s education program or activity.  

To ensure that the University fulfills obligations under Title IX, when a report of a sexual offense is made, the University will initially proceed under the Title IX Policy and related grievance procedures.  The Title IX coordinator will determine if the alleged behavior, if proven, would constitute a violation of Title IX once sufficient information is available to make such a determination. If the alleged behavior would constitute a violation of Title IX, the complaint would continue under the Title IX policy and procedures.  If the alleged behavior would not constitute a violation of Title IX, the complaint would continue under the procedures for Sexual Offense Grievance Procedures for Employees.    

A complainant may not circumvent Title IX by dismissing a complaint that would constitute a Title IX violation, if proven, and then filing a similar complaint under this policy.

VIII. Resources for Medical, Counseling and Pastoral Care2


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

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 an incident of sexual assault. For those victims who are out of the area, the International Association of Forensic Nurses Website provides a directory where victims can locate a certified forensic examination site worldwide.

Collection of evidence by a SANE nurse does not require that a victim file a police report, although a victim 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 the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) within that time.

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

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

The University’s Employee Assistance Program provides confidential counseling and can be reached at tel. (800)437-0911 or via the website with access code: HSBH4.

Employees may also contact local community resources, including the DC Rape Crisis Center (24-hour Hotline: tel. (202) 333-7273. The Network for Victim Recovery of DC (NVRDC) will send an advocate to the hospital to assist throughout the evidence collection process. A list of community resources and area hospitals is also available at U a.s.k.

Note: If the employees listed in the categories above are made aware of crimes or offenses outside of their professional capacities, those employees may be considered mandatory reporters (defined above) for reporting sexual offenses.

IX. Prevention Education


The University requires all employees to complete online Harassment Prevention Training every two years. In addition, all faculty and staff are required to attend in-person Title IX training or complete an on-line course provided by the University and receive periodic refresher training.

X. University Disciplinary Action


"Sexual offenses," as defined in this policy, will not be tolerated; violations can result in disciplinary sanctions up to and including termination, as well as criminal prosecution or other legal action.

Allegations of sexual offenses may be adjudicated under the disciplinary procedures outlined in the University's Sexual Offenses Grievance Procedure for Employees, regardless of whether they are also reported as a crime to local police or the subject of any criminal or civil action. Individuals who are both employees and students and are found responsible for a sexual offense may face discipline as both students and in their capacity as University employees.

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 termination of employment, may be considered, depending on the nature and severity of the offense.

XI. Mandatory Reporting of Child Sexual Assault/Abuse


The District of Columbia requires that any person over 18 years of age report known or suspected sexual abuse of an individual less than 16 years of age to the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency at tel. (202) 671-7233 or to Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) at 911.

The District of Columbia also requires that persons in certain occupations and professions report known or suspected mental or physical abuse or neglect of an individual under the age of 18 years of age. The professions are called Mandatory Reporters and include but are not limited to the following: teacher/faculty member, athletic coach, physician, psychologist, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, person involved in the care and treatment of patients, law-enforcement officer, school official, social service worker, day care worker, and mental health professional. Mandatory Reporters must report information of neglect or abuse learned in their official or professional capacity including whether the child is in immediate danger of such abuse or neglect. Reports must be made to the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency at (202) 671-7233 or to MPD at 911.

Priests are required to report sexual assault or abuse of a minor in accordance with the Archdiocese of Washington Child Protection Policy.

Any employee that makes a report to the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency or MPD must also make a report to the University's Department of Public Safety. Any employee who is unsure or unclear of the responsibilities or legal obligations under this section should contact the Office of General Counsel for advice at (202) 319-5142.

XII. Prohibition on Relations with Students or Subordinates


The Catholic University of America seeks to maintain a professional and ethical educational environment. Actions of faculty members (including adjunct faculty), professional staff members and academic administrators that are unprofessional are inconsistent with the university's educational mission. It is essential that those in a position of authority not abuse the power with which they are entrusted. Employees should be aware that consensual dating or sexual relationships may result in claims of sexual harassment because the voluntariness of the consent may be questioned when a power differential exists between the individuals in the relationship.

A consensual dating or sexual relationship between a staff employee, a member of the faculty (including adjunct faculty) and a student, or an employee that the staff/faculty directly supervises, is prohibited when the staff/faculty has any current or foreseeable professional responsibility for the student or the employee. The prohibition on consensual relations also applies to graduate students when serving as instructors. Voluntary consent by the student/employee in such a relationship is suspect, given the fundamental nature of such a relationship. Moreover, others in the work or learning environment may be affected by such behavior. Therefore, it is deemed unprofessional and a violation of University policy for any member of the faculty or staff to engage in a dating or sexual relationship, whether or not consented to, with a student or employee whom he/she instructs, evaluates, supervises, or advises, or over whom he/she is in a position to exercise authority in any way, now or in the foreseeable future.

A violation of this prohibition may result in disciplinary action including dismissal for unprofessional conduct, following the appropriate employment procedures.


  1. While these definitions are derived from applicable law, the prohibited conduct described in this section encompass more than conduct proscribed by law.
  2. 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).