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Sexual Misconduct Policy

Sexual misconduct is a broad range of behavior that includes but is not limited to non-consensual sexual intercourse, non-consensual sexual contact, sexual exploitation, sexual harassment, relationship violence, and stalking. Sometimes students are unsure if what they or their friends experienced was sexual misconduct. If you are unsure, please contact one of the College's deputy Title IX coordinators for students:

  • McCarren E. Caputa, Assistant Dean of Students, Director of Residence Life, and Deputy Title IX Coordinator (757) 233-8709
  • Jason W. Seward, Dean of Freshmen, Director of the Jane P. Batten Student Center, and Deputy Title IX Coordinator (757) 455-2124


What is Consent?

Words or actions that demonstrate a knowing or voluntary willingness to engage in mutually-agreed-upon sexual activity constitutes consent. Consent cannot be gained by force, by ignoring objections, or by taking advantage of another's incapacitation. Consent may not be inferred from silence or any other lack of active resistance. It may not be implied by attire or inferred from an individual by spending money on that individual (e.g., buying a meal on a date). Prior consent does not imply consent to future sexual acts. In addition, consent to one type of sexual act does not automatically imply consent to another type of sexual act.

Once a person says "no," it does not matter if or what kind of sexual behavior has occurred at an earlier date in time. For example, if one individual says "no" and the other forces penetration, it is sexual misconduct.
Consent may not be given by the following persons:

  • Individuals who are mentally incapacitated at the time of the sexual contact in a manner that prevents him or her from understanding the nature or consequences of the sexual act involved;
  • Individuals who are unconscious or otherwise physically helpless; and
  • Minors.

Incapacitation is defined as the physical and/or mental inability to make informed, rational judgments that voids an individual's ability to give consent. Incapacitation may be caused by a permanent or temporary physical or mental impairment. Incapacitation may also result from the consumption of alcohol or the use of drugs.

The use of alcohol or drugs may, but does not automatically affect a person's ability to consent to sexual contact. The consumption of alcohol or drugs may create a mental incapacity if the nature and degree of the intoxication go beyond the stage of merely reduced inhibition and reach a point in which the victim does not understand the nature and consequences of the sexual act. In such case, the person cannot consent.

A person violates the sexual misconduct policy if he or she has sexual contact with someone he or she knows or should know is mentally incapacitated or has reached the degree of intoxication that results in incapacitation. The test of whether an individual should know about another's incapacitation is whether a reasonable, sober person would know about the incapacitation. An accused student cannot rebut a sexual misconduct charge merely by arguing that he or she was drunk or otherwise impaired and, as a result did not know that the other person was incapacitated.

A person who is passed out or unconscious as a result of the consumption of alcohol or drugs is physically helpless and is not able to consent.

What is Non-Consensual Sexual Contact?

Any sexual contact that occurs without consent constitutes non-consensual sexual contact. Examples of sexual contact but not limited to is the intentional touching of a person's genitalia, groin, breast, or buttocks or the clothing covering any of those areas, or using force to cause the person to touch his/her own genitalia, groin, breast, or buttocks.

What is Non-Consensual Sexual Intercourse?

The act of sexual intercourse that occurs without consent constitutes non-consensual sexual intercourse. Sexual intercourse is defined by penetration (anal, oral, or vaginal) by a penis, tongue, finger, or inanimate object.

What is Sexual Exploitation?

Taking sexual advantage of another person without effective consent constitutes sexual exploitation. This includes but is not limited to causing the incapacitation of another person for a sexual purpose; causing the prostitution of another person; electronically recording, photographing, or transmitting intimate or sexual utterances, sounds, or images of another person; allowing third parties to observe sexual acts; engaging in voyeurism; distributing intimate or sexual information about another person; and knowingly transmitting a sexually transmitted infection, including HIV, to another person.

What is Stalking?

Repeatedly contacting another person when the contact is unwanted constitutes stalking. The conduct may cause the other person reasonable apprehension of imminent physical harm or substantial impairment of the other person's ability to perform the activities of daily life. Contact includes but is not limited to communication (in person, by phone, or by computer), following a person, and watching or remaining in the physical presence of the other person.

What is Sexual Harassment?

Unwelcome sexual advances, including requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment, when one or more of the following occur:

  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct is made a term or condition of an individual's employment or academic success;
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions;
  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of interfering with an individual's work or academic performance or creates a hostile, intimidating, or offensive work or educational environment.

What is Coercion?

Coercion is an unreasonable amount of pressure to engage in sexual activity. Coercion begins not when you make the sexual advance, but when you realize they do not want to be convinced and you continue to push.

What is Physical Force?

Force equated with violence or the use of a weapon constitutes physical force. No matter how slight, any intentional physical impact upon another, use of physical restraint, or the presence of a weapon constitutes the use of force.

What are Threats?

Threats cause a person to do something that he or she would not have done without the threat (forcible compulsion), e.g., "If you do not have sex with me, I will:

  • harm someone close to you.
  • tell people you are gay.
  • tell people you are a whore."

What is Intimidation?

Intimidation can be defined as an implied threat, e.g., "If you sleep with me, I will invite you to a party."

What is Relationship Violence?

Physical assault(s), or credible threat(s) of bodily harm, involving adults who are in an intimate relationship.

What is Hazing?

The College's policy against hazing is separate from the sexual misconduct policy. In some cases conduct may implicate both policies. Hazing is an act that, as an explicit or implicit condition for initiation to, admission into, affiliation with, or continued membership in a group or organization, could be seen by a reasonable person as endangering the physical health of an individual or as causing mental distress to an individual through, for example, humiliating, intimidating, or demeaning treatment; destroys or removes public or private property; involves the consumption of alcohol, other drugs, or other substances; or violates any of the policies of Virginia Wesleyan College. Hazing that involves sexual misconduct will be investigated by the University's deputy Title IX coordinators in addition to other campus officials.

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