Defining Sexual Misconduct

Shenandoah University defines “sexual misconduct” as engaging in any sexual behavior without consent, including sexual conduct that occurs after consent has been withdrawn. Sexual misconduct that causes physical or emotional discomfort to any person involved is prohibited.

To constitute sexual misconduct, the sexual behavior must meet any one of the following criteria:

  1. The sexual behavior is not consensual.
  2. The sexual behavior includes force, threat(s) or intimidation.
  3. The sexual behavior occurs when one person is a minor or is mentally or physically helpless, including but not limited to being under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. 

What is consent?

Consent is defined as words or actions that show a knowing and voluntary agreement to engage in mutually agreed-upon sexual activity. Consent cannot be gained by force, despite the objections of the other person, or by the incapacitation of another due to drugs, alcohol, mental incapacity or minor status, where the accused individual knows or reasonably should have known of such incapacitation. 

Sex without consent is sexual misconduct. Use of force, intimidation or coercion is a denial of a person’s right to freely give his/her consent. Even if someone has agreed to sexually engage, that person has the right to withdraw consent at any time. A person who is incapacitated cannot legally give consent. Silence does not imply consent.


What is incapacitation?

Incapacitation is defined as the physical and/or mental inability to make informed, rational decisions. Such inability voids an individual’s capacity 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 either illegal and/or prescribed substances.


What is coercion?

Coercion is defined as an unreasonable amount of pressure to engage in sexual activity. Coercive behavior is not the same as seduction.


What is force?

Force is defined as the use of physical violence and/or imposing on someone physically to gain sexual access. Force can include but is not limited to threats, intimidation, implied threats and coercion that overcomes resistance or produces consent.


What is sexual assault?

Sexual Assault is defined as a forcible or non-forcible sex offense under the uniform crime reporting system of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Sex Offenses are those which are defined as any sexual act directed against another person, forcibly and/or against that person's will; or not forcibly or against the person's will where the victim is incapable of giving consent.  The following forcible and non-forcible sex offenses are listed by the FBI which include: rape, sodomy, sexual assault with an object, forcible fondling, incest and statutory rape.


What is dating or relationship violence?

Dating or relationship violence is defined as violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on the reporting party’s statement and with consideration of the length of the relationship, the type of the relationship, and the frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship. Dating or relationship violence is the use of physical, emotional or sexually abusive behaviors to gain power or control in an intimate relationship.


What is domestic violence?

Domestic Violence is defined as felony or misdemeanor crimes of violence, involving force, threats or any acts that result in bodily injury, mental or emotional injury, or places one in reasonable apprehension of death or sexual assault, committed by a current or former spouse of the victim, whether not he or she resides in the same home with the person, 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, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the jurisdiction,  including parents, stepparents, children, stepchildren, brothers, sisters, half-brothers, half-sisters, grandparents and grandchildren, regardless of whether such persons reside in the same home with the victim, or the victim’s mother-in-law, father-in-law, sons-in-law, daughters-in-law, brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law who reside in the same home with the victim 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 jurisdiction.


What is sexual exploitation?

Sexual exploitation occurs when an individual takes sexual advantage of another person without consent. This includes but is not limited to causing or attempting to cause incapacitation of another individual for sexual purposes; prostitution of another person; videotaping, recording, photographing or transmitting (including electronically) intimate or sexual sounds or images of another person; allowing third parties to observe sexual acts; engaging in voyeurism; distributing intimate or sexual information about another person; invasion of sexual privacy; and knowingly transmitting a sexually transmitted infection such as HIV to another person.

What is sexual harassment?

Shenandoah University defines “sexual harassment” as making unwelcomed sexual advances, requesting sexual favors or engaging in other verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature when at least one of the following conditions is met:

  1. Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly as a condition of an individual’s employment, membership or education.
  2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment, membership or academic decisions affecting the individual.
  3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s academic or work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work, academic or living environment.