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Sexual Harassment

Sexual Violence

Sexual violence is any sexual act or attempt to obtain a sexual act by violence or coercion, unwanted sexual comments or advances, acts to traffic a person or acts directed against a person's sexuality, regardless of the relationship to the victim. It occurs in times of peace and armed conflict situations, is widespread and is considered to be one of the most traumatic, pervasive, and most common human rights violations. Sexual violence includes sexual assault, rape, battery and sexual coercion; domestic dating violence; and stalking.


Sexual Assault

Research indicates that approximately 1 in 5 women1 and 1 in 33 men2 will be victims of sexual assault in their lifetime. Most sexual assaults occur between people who know each other. The National Institute of Justice indicates that 6 in 10 victims of sexual assault/rape were assaulted by someone known to them including: intimate partner, relative, friend or acquaintance. On college campuses 85-90% of all victims knew their attacker. Most often, the perpetrator was identified as a boyfriend, ex-boyfriend, classmate, friend, acquaintance, or coworker.3


1. Black, M.C., Basile, K.C., Breiding, M.J., Smith, S.G., Walters, M.L., Merrick, M.T., Chen, J., & Stevens, M.R. (2011) The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey(N ISVIS ): 2010 Summary Report. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

2. National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey. 1998.

3. Fisher, Cullen and Turner, 2000

Defining Sexual Assault

Westminster College defines Sexual Assault as:

Any intentional or knowing touching or fondling by the accused, either directly or through the clothing, of the victim’s genitals, breasts, thighs, or buttocks without the victim’s consent. Sexual Assault includes touching or fondling by the accused of the victim when the victim is forced to do so against his or her will. Sexual assault also includes any non-consensual acts involving penetration of the sex organs, anus, or mouth.


The State of Pennsylvania defines Sexual Assault as:

A person engaging in sexual intercourse or deviate sexual intercourse with another person without their consent. The defendant may have committed statutory sexual assault if the victim was under 16 years of age, and the defendant is more than four years older than the victim, and they were not married to each other at the time of the offense. Pennsylvania also has a separate charge titled "indecent assault." Indecent assault is similar to sexual assault in some ways. It involves indecent contact with the victim, including the victim's contact with the defendant's seminal fluid, urine, or feces for the purpose of arousing sexual desire in either the victim or defendant, and it is done without the victim's consent, forcibly or under threat of force, or performed under some severe incapacity of the victim (i.e. unconsciousness, mental incapacity, intoxication of the victim, youth of the victim).

Sexual assault is considered a second degree felony in Pennsylvania. This is punishable by up to ten years in prison. Discretionary fines may also be imposed by the court depending on the nature of the crime and its severity. In the event of insanity, the judge may recommend counseling or psychiatric treatment as necessary. In the event that the crime is charged as an indecent assault, then the charge will be either a first or second degree misdemeanor depending on the specific nature of the offense. This can be punishable by up to five years in prison. However, if it is the defendant's second offense or there has been a repeated course of this type of conduct, or if the assault was committed by touching the victim's sexual parts with those of the defendant, then it can be a third degree felony. This is punishable by up to seven years in prison.


Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is defined as abuse committed against an adult or a minor who is a spouse or former spouse, cohabitant, or someone with whom the abuser has a child, has existing dating or engagement relationship, or has had a former dating or engagement relationship.

*Definitions provided by the University of California - Riverside



Stalking is behavior in which a person repeatedly engages in conduct directed at a specific person that places that person in reasonable fear of his or her safety or the safety of others. It is prohibited by College policy. In accordance with Pennsylvania Criminal Code (Stalking):§ 2709.1., a person commits the crime of stalking when the person either:

  1. Engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts toward another person, including following the person without proper authority, under circumstances which demonstrate either an intent to place such other person in reasonable fear of bodily injury or to cause substantial emotional distress to such other person; or
  2. Engages in a course of conduct or repeatedly communicates to another person under circumstances which demonstrate or communicate either an intent to place such other person in reasonable fear of bodily injury or to cause substantial emotional distress to such other person.


  • Communicates: To convey a message without intent of legitimate communication or address by oral, nonverbal, written or electronic means, including telephone, electronic mail, Internet, facsimile, telex, wireless communication or similar transmission.

  • Course of conduct: A pattern of actions composed of more than one act over a period of time, however short, evidencing a continuity of conduct. The term includes lewd, lascivious, threatening or obscene words, language, drawings, caricatures or actions, either in person or anonymously.

  • Emotional distress: A temporary or permanent state of mental anguish.


Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is an act of coercion (an inappropriate use of power) that can occur between any individuals formally associated with the College, for example, between an employee and a supervisor, between co-workers, faculty members or between a faculty, staff or student and a customer, vendor or contractor, or between a student and a faculty member or another student. Sexual harassment consists of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

  1. Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, participation in any program or activity, or status in an academic course;

  2. Submission or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or academic decisions affecting such individuals; or

  3. Such conduct has the effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or educational experience, or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment for working, learning, or living on campus.

Thus, sexual harassment encompasses any sexual attention that is unwanted. Verbal, visual, and physical conduct prohibited by College policy includes, but is not limited to:

  1. Physical assault;

  2. Direct or implied threats that submission to or rejection of sexual advances will be a condition of employment, work status, promotion, grades or letters of recommendation;

  3. A pattern of conduct (not legitimately related to the subject matter of a course) that causes discomfort or embarrassment including:

    1. Inappropriate comments of a sexual nature;

    2. Sexually explicit questions, jokes or anecdotes;

    3. Touching, patting, hugging, intentionally brushing against a person’s body, or repeated or unwanted staring;

    4. Inappropriate remarks about sexual activity, experience or orientation; or

    5. Display of inappropriate sexually oriented materials in a location where others can see them; when such conduct, comments, actions or materials unreasonably interfere with a person’s working, living, or academic environment.

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