Sexual Assault Reporting Guidelines and Information
Purpose of the Guidelines
The Sexual Assault Guidelines outline the procedures to be followed when a student reports a sexual assault. The primary purpose of the guidelines is to ensure the victim’s health and safety while offering appropriate response to all parties involved, including the campus community at large.
The Berea College community has ethical and moral values that all members of the community are expected to meet. Central to those values is the belief that all members of the College community have the right to be treated with respect and to participate in community life with dignity. Sexual assault is not only a criminal offense, but also a violation of these rights.
What is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is a broad category of actions in which sexual acts and/or sexual harassment is performed without consent or upon a person who is not able to give consent (e.g. in the case where one is intoxicated and unable to effectively give consent). Berea College recognizes that sexual assault is not gender specific as both men and women can be a victim or perpetrator of sexual assault. Sexual assault is unwanted sexual contact where a person’s consent has not been given. It may include unwanted kissing, touching or fondling, touching intimate parts of the body or even the clothing covering intimate body parts. It need not, but may, include penetration as in rape.
What constitutes consent?
Consent is the act of willingly agreeing to engage in specific sexual behavior.
Silence or non-communication must never be interpreted as consent. Additionally, a person in a state of diminished judgment cannot consent. Consent requires that a person be able to freely choose between two options: yes and no. A person is incapable of giving consent if s/he is asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unable to communicate. No one who has been threatened, coerced or drugged can consent. A person is unable to give consent when s/he is under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, or is not competent to give consent due to mental illness. A current or prior sexual or dating relationship does not constitute consent.
A person can withdraw consent at any time during the course of a sexual encounter. Pursuing sexual contact in any form with an unwilling or un-consenting partner is sexual assault. Both parties must understand consent, with responsibility for discerning correct judgment resting upon the person making the sexual advance.
For a student who wishes his/her assault to be handled in a private, confidential manner, it is essential that he or she contact College Health Services and/or Counseling Services (x3212), a minister at the Campus Christian Center (x3926), or the Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center (1-800-656-4673), where, by law, medical providers and counselors can maintain confidentiality. If the student reports a sexual assault to other College faculty or staff, including student staff members, that person is obligated by federal legislation, including the Campus Security Act, to report the incident to Public Safety.
Responding to a Sexual Assault
If you have been sexually assaulted, recognize that it is not your fault.
Contact someone you trust for help. Seek medical attention. Preserve the physical evidence.
Resources Available to Provide Support, Information and Services
For Medical Attention:
Even if you don’t think you have any physical injuries, you should consider having a medical exam as soon as possible:
- to check for internal injury;
- to receive treatment for possible sexually-transmitted diseases or pregnancy; and
- to conduct a sexual assault exam to collect and preserve any physical evidence should you decide to press charges at the time or in the future. The emergency rooms at Saint Joseph Berea Hospital and at Patty A. Clay Hospital (in Richmond) can provide these exams.
For Confidential Counseling, Guidance, and Treatment:
Speaking with a trained counselor or advocate in a confidential environment can help you deal with what has happened and better understand the options available to you. College Health Services can provide confidential medical exams, including tests for STD’s and pregnancy. Unless required by law, (i.e., the victim is a minor) these individuals will not take any action without your written consent.
College Health Services
ext. 3212 8:00am – 5:00pm M-F
ext. 3212 8:00am – 5:00pm M-F
(After hours, and on weekends and holidays, call Public Safety and ask to speak to the Counselor on call.)
Blue Grass Rape Crisis Center
24-hour hotline: 800-656-4673
For Support and Assistance:
We strongly recommend reporting a sexual assault to a College representative. Reporting is the only way the College can take action against the alleged perpetrator. A College representative is any faculty or staff member, including student staff, a Collegium member, RA, professor, coach or labor supervisor. These individuals can refer you to the counseling, personal and judicial/legal resources available to you, and are obligated by federal legislation under the Campus Security Act to report an assault to Public Safety. You may also choose to contact Public Safety or the Berea Police Department directly.
ext. 3115 (8 am – 5 pm) or ext. 3333 (after hours)
Berea Police Department
Faculty, staff, and student staff members are obligated by the Campus Security Act to report to Public Safety information shared by the victim about the assault.
Once a sexual assault is reported, Public Safety is obligated to contact the victim for a statement and possibly to conduct an investigation. Because sexual assault is a crime under Kentucky law, Public Safety may notify the Berea Police Department to assist with subsequent investigation by BPD. However, the victim has the right to make a handwritten statement to Public Safety stating that they choose not to have the police involved.
In cases of perceived danger, the College is obligated to make a public statement to alert the campus community. Any public statement to the campus to alert and protect the community from imminent danger will be coordinated by the Office of Labor and Student Life.
Basic Advice to Assist the Victim
Following are some helpful tips for supporting and assisting a person who has been sexually assaulted:
- Help the person feel empowered. Pressuring him or her to take or not take action may further contribute to feelings of helplessness or powerlessness. Even if her/his decisions are in contrast with your own personal feelings about the situation, allowing the person to choose the next steps helps her/him begin to regain a sense of control.
- Make sure that the person knows that the decision to take judicial or legal action rests with her/him.
- Make sure that the person knows that a medical exam is recommended to protect against the possibility of contracting an infectious disease, including AIDS, an unwanted pregnancy and/or the possibility of internal damage.
- Explain that showering, brushing teeth, chewing gum, douching, changing clothes, drinking fluids or urinating before a medical exam may destroy important physical evidence.
- Make sure that the person knows that having a medical exam does not commit her/him to pressing charges; but enables her/him to do so in the future, if s/he so chooses. Remind the person that it’s possible to collect evidence and receive antibiotics and emergency contraception for up to 96 hours after the assault. Beyond that time, a medical exam to test for sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy or internal injuries is still important and recommended.
Information about Judicial and Legal Options
(Also see Community Judicial Code)
It is important for you to be familiar with various options, including College judicial and/or legal options:
- Anyone who has been sexually assaulted has the right to pursue legal and disciplinary remedies and to secure counseling services. This includes the right to pursue College judicial action, criminal prosecution and/or civil litigation. Electing to pursue judicial action through the College does not commit the victim to pursue criminal or civil action, or vice versa. A victim also has the right to take no action.
- Should a victim wish to pursue criminal prosecution and/or civil litigation, the Department of Public Safety can provide assistance and information. Additionally, the Blue Grass Rape Crisis Center (800-656-4673) can provide a legal advocate to guide the victim through the legal process.
What happens when a person wants to pursue judicial action through the College?
- A Judicial Officer will coordinate an investigation of the reported incident in order to determine the appropriate charges.
- If judicial charges are filed, the Judicial Officer will prepare the case and gather relevant information. A Judicial Liaison will assemble a hearing body and be responsible for ensuring that the official procedures are followed.
- If a hearing is held, the alleged perpetrator will be informed of the outcome by the hearing body. The alleged victim will be informed of the outcome by the Judicial Liaison. To protect the privacy of those involved in the hearing, the campus community as a whole will NOT be notified of the outcome of the hearing.
Can someone attend the judicial hearing with me?
Students may select a Personal Observer from within the College community (i.e. enrolled students, faculty or staff). This person is not an active participant in the hearing process; but may be present with the student to provide support.
Will I have to see the other person during the judicial hearing if I don’t want to?
No. The Judicial Liaison will work with both parties to create a setting that’s as neutral as possible.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can physical evidence be preserved?
It is normal for someone who has been sexually assaulted to want to feel “clean”; however, bathing and other actions can destroy important physical evidence. You should refrain from showering, drinking, eating, douching, urinating, chewing gum or changing clothes until a medical exam can be done. If clothing has already been removed, it should be placed in a paper bag or pillowcase (not a plastic bag).
What happens if I go to the ER?
- You have the choice to go to the Emergency Room for a sexual assault exam (cost normally covered by the Victim’s Fund established by the state) or medical attention (Emergency Room expenses will be billed to the student).
- You may also choose to have a medical exam done by College Health Services during office hours (8:30am – 5:00pm M-F). This cost is covered by the student health fee. If you go to the ER for a sexual assault exam, the hospital staff is required to call a Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center advocate and the police.
- If a sexual assault exam is requested, the victim must indicate that she/he is considering pressing charges so that a Rape Kit is made available to preserve evidence collected from the exam. This in no way obligates the victim to press charges but ensures that critical evidence is collected should a decision to press charges be made any time in the future. (Note: There is no statute of limitations on the crime of rape; however, rape kits are typically disposed of after 6 months).
The victim will be encouraged to provide a statement to the police officer before leaving the hospital. This statement accompanies the completed Rape Kit but it is not an agreement to press charges. A victim has the right to refuse to speak with a police officer or may choose to do so at a later date.
Do I have to talk to Public Safety and/or to a Police Officer?
No. You have the right to refuse to speak with Public Safety and/or to a police officer. You also have the right to speak with Public Safety and/or a police officer at a later date. Please keep in mind that critical evidence may be lost should you wait to make a statement and/or press charges and that a full investigation cannot be done without your cooperation.
What is involved in a sexual assault examination?
Either the ER doctor or, if requested, a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) will conduct a thorough medical examination to assess for injury and collect evidence that can be used if charges are pressed. The exam takes 2-3 hours and requires a lengthy list of samples to be collected for analysis, including pubic hair, finger nails, vaginal or penile and anal fluids, pictures of bruises or wounds, etc.
If I had been drinking at the time of the assault, will I get in trouble for drinking if the sexual assault is reported?
The College is committed to caring for and supporting anyone who has been sexually assaulted regardless of the circumstances surrounding the assault. If there are alcohol, visitation, or other policy violations connected to an assault situation, accommodations can be made so that you are not penalized for these infractions.
What should I do if I am worried about seeing the other person around campus?
If you are concerned about your safety or reasonable comfort as you participate in campus events, class, or labor, the College will try to adjust housing assignments, class and labor schedules, etc. Depending on the circumstances, the College may also issue a Cease and Desist order limiting further contact between the individuals involved.
Berea Police Department
Saint Joseph Hospital Berea
985-3212 8:00am – 5:00pm M-F
(After hours, weekends and holidays call Public Safety and ask to speak to the Counselor on call.)
Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center (BRCC)
1-800-656-4673 (Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center 24-hour hotline)