Approved by: The President
History: Issued               -- June 17, 1993
Revised             -- November 18, 2020
Last Reviewed -- November 18, 2020
Related Policies: Code of Student Conduct; Non-Discrimination, Anti-Harassment, and Title IX Compliance Policy; Sexual Offenses Grievance Procedures; Sexual Offenses Policy (Employees and Third Parties); Non-Retaliation Policy; Title IX Policy
Additional References: University Title IX Website; Dean of Student's Sexual Assault and Violence Education website; http://www.uaskdc.org/; Title IX Coordinator; Network for Victim Recovery of DC (NVRDC)
Responsible Official: Associate Vice President and 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 offenses," defined below, are unlawful behavior that will not be tolerated; violations can result in disciplinary sanctions including expulsion, as well as criminal prosecution or other legal action.

The University encourages reporting of sexual offenses and seeks to remove any barriers to making a report. At times, students may be hesitant to report a sexual offense to University officials because they are concerned that they may be subject to student conduct action for lesser policy violations such as visitation or alcohol violations, or consensual conduct that occurred prior to or during the incident. This behavior is not condoned by the University, but the importance of dealing with an alleged sexual offense is the paramount consideration to the University. Consequently, students who report a sexual offense in good faith, as a complainant or witness, will not be subject to student conduct action for other policy violations that occurred during the incident as long as such violations did not place the health and safety of any other person at risk. The University may, however, require students to participate in educational activities or health interventions for any conduct that comes to the University's attention.

Students who report sexual offenses shall be informed of and encouraged to use all appropriate University, law enforcement, and community resources. Students accused of sexual offenses 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.

This policy applies when a violation is alleged against a student.   Additional information about the applicability of Title IX is outlined below and on the University's Title IX Website

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.

The University believes that no person should bear the effects of a sexual offense 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 Assault and Violence Education Website.


II.  Prohibited Conduct and Definitions1

 

A. Sexual Offense

 

Sexual Offenses are prohibited in all forms. "Sexual Offense" is a broad term encompassing a range of behavior 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.

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.  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.

3. Dating Violence

Dating violence means felony or misdemeanor crimes of 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 type of relationship, or 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. 

A student can face significant disciplinary sanctions, including expulsion, as well as criminal prosecution or other legal action, for committing asexual offense.

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 incapacitated due to drugs, alcohol, or some other condition. Silence or lack of active resistance does not imply consent. Voluntary intoxication is not an excuse for failure to obtain 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. 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.

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 a student could reasonably believe has this authority or duty.

See a list of the University Mandatory Reporters.

III. Reporting Sexual Offenses

 

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

A.  Where to Make a Report 

 

To report a sexual offense, contact any of the following:

  • The Department of Public Safety (DPS) at tel. (202) 319-5111, or
  • The Title IX Coordinator at tel. 202-319-4177, TITLEIX-COORD@cua.edu, Leahy Hall 170, or 
  • The Dean of Students at tel. (202) 319-5619, sawyerj@cua.edu, Pryzbyla Center, Suite 353. 

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. 

If a report of a sexual offense is made to any staff or faculty member of the University who is a Mandatory Reporter (defined above), the faculty or staff member must contact either the Title IX Coordinator, DPS, or the Dean of Students.. 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.

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 all students. When the University cannot comply with a student's request for confidentiality, the University will consult with that individual and keep the student 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 (including but not limited to those in the University Counseling Center)
  2. Physicians and others licensed to practice medicine in the District of Columbia who are acting in their health care role per D.C. Code §14.307 (including but not limited to those in University Student Health Services)
  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 mandatory reporters (defined above) for reporting sexual offenses.

IV.  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.

V.  University Response to Reports of Sexual Offenses

 

A student who has made a report of a sexual offense will be referred to the Dean of Students, who will appoint a trained resource person to help explain and navigate the available support services. This includes information regarding counseling, educational support, pastoral care, medical treatment, and information about filing a complaint under the Code of Student Conduct for University disciplinary action. 

Upon receipt of a report of an alleged sexual offense in which the accused is a current Catholic University student or student employee, the Dean of Students shall issue no-contact orders, as appropriate, to the complainant and the respondent.

The Dean of Students shall also provide assistance to the affected students, such as rearranging class schedules and housing; every effort will be made to accommodate all reasonable requests, to protect the students and the campus community, and to minimize the impact on the students' educational programs.

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 and resolution beyond the wishes of the individual reporting the incident.

VI.  Applicability to Title IX

 

In addition to being a possible violation of the Code of Student Conduct, 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 Students.    

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.

VII. Resources for Medical, Counseling and Pastoral Care2

 

It is especially important that students who report having been subjected to sexual assault 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 (SHS) is open from Monday through Friday from 9 am - 5 pm and on Saturday from 9 am - 1 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 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 student file a police report, although a student 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 a sexual offense. 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.

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.

The on-campus resources listed above are available to all Catholic University students including victims, accused students and witnesses in sexual offense 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)). 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. and in the Office of the Dean of Students.

VIII. 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 a variety of educational and awareness programs and initiatives. See Sexual Assault and Violence Education for further information.

IX.  University Disciplinary Action

 

As outlined in the Applicability to Title IX section, some sexual offenses may also fall under the scope of Title IX.  These cases will be addressed under the Title IX Grievance Procedures.  Sexual offense complaints that do not fall under the scope of Title IX will be addressed under the Sexual Offense Grievance Procedures for Students. University disciplinary action may be taken regardless of whether the offense is 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.

X.  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 the 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 tel. (202) 319-5142.

______________________________________________________________________________

  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).