What is Sexual Assault or Rape?

Sexual assault can be any form of forced sexual contact. Force can be physical or emotional (there are four types of force: threat, intimidation, pressure, coercion). Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person's consent.

Policy Definitions of Sexual Assault:

The University uses the following definitions related to sexual assault under the Policy on Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Other Forms of Interpersonal Violence:

Sexual Assault consists of (1) Sexual Contact and/or (2) Sexual Intercourse that occurs without (3) Affirmative Consent.

Sexual Contact is:

Sexual Contact includes (a) intentional touching of the breasts, buttocks, groin or genitals, whether clothed or unclothed, or intentionally touching another with any of these body parts; and (b) making another touch you or themselves with or on any of these body parts.

Sexual Intercourse is:

Sexual Intercourse includes (a) vaginal penetration by a penis, object, tongue, or finger; (b) anal penetration by a penis, object, tongue, or finger; and (c) any contact, no matter how slight, between the mouth of one person and the genitalia of another person.

Affirmative Consent is:

Affirmative Consent cannot be obtained by Force.  Force includes (a) the use of physical violence, (b) threats, (c) intimidation, and/or (d) coercion.

Affirmative Consent cannot be gained by taking advantage of the incapacitation of another, where the person initiating sexual activity knew or reasonably should have known that the other was incapacitated.  Incapacitation means that a person lacks the ability to make informed, rational judgments about whether or not to engage in sexual activity. 

For more information about the policy and definitions, see the Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment and Other Forms of Interpersonal Violence Policy.

Criminal Definitions of Sexual Assault in Virginia:

Below are some of the criminal code definitions for different sexual offenses that would also be addressed by university policy. The full list of crimes can be found in Chapter 4: Crimes against the Person of the Code of Virginia.

Definitions from the University policy may differ from those used by the Commonwealth of Virginia to define sexual assault for the criminal justice system. In some cases, the University’s definitions include behaviors that, while not codified as criminal under the Virginia statutes, still violate the Standards of Conduct to which all University students are held. Conduct may also be both punishable under the criminal statutes and University policy. These processes are separate and distinct from one another, but can run concurrently.

§ 18.2-61. Rape.
A. If any person has sexual intercourse with a complaining witness, whether or not his or her spouse, or causes a complaining witness, whether or not his or her spouse, to engage in sexual intercourse with any other person and such act is accomplished (i) against the complaining witness's will, by force, threat or intimidation of or against the complaining witness or another person; or (ii) through the use of the complaining witness's mental incapacity or physical helplessness; or (iii) with a child under age 13 as the victim, he or she shall be guilty of rape.

§ 18.2-67.1. Forcible sodomy.
A. An accused shall be guilty of forcible sodomy if he or she engages in cunnilingus, fellatio, anilingus, or anal intercourse with a complaining witness whether or not his or her spouse, or causes a complaining witness, whether or not his or her spouse, to engage in such acts with any other person, and
1. The complaining witness is less than 13 years of age; or
2. The act is accomplished against the will of the complaining witness, by force, threat or intimidation of or against the complaining witness or another person, or through the use of the complaining witness's mental incapacity or physical helplessness.

§ 18.2-67.2. Object sexual penetration; penalty.
A. An accused shall be guilty of inanimate or animate object sexual penetration if he or she penetrates the labia majora or anus of a complaining witness, whether or not his or her spouse, other than for a bona fide medical purpose, or causes such complaining witness to so penetrate his or her own body with an object or causes a complaining witness, whether or not his or her spouse, to engage in such acts with any other person or to penetrate, or to be penetrated by, an animal, and
1. The complaining witness is less than 13 years of age; or
2. The act is accomplished against the will of the complaining witness, by force, threat or intimidation of or against the complaining witness or another person, or through the use of the complaining witness's mental incapacity or physical helplessness.

§ 18.2-67.4. Sexual battery.
A. An accused is guilty of sexual battery if he sexually abuses, as defined in § 18.2-67.10, (i) the complaining witness against the will of the complaining witness, by force, threat, intimidation, or ruse, (ii) within a two-year period, more than one complaining witness or one complaining witness on more than one occasion intentionally and without the consent of the complaining witness