Sexual Offenses and Legal Consequences

Sexual Offenses and Legal Consequences

It is important for members of the campus community to be aware that there can be serious legal consequences for sexual misconduct. If you do not accept another person's decision not to have sexual contact, and you proceed without consent, you may be breaking the law in New York State.

Sexual offenses are defined in the New York Penal Code, Sections 130.00 to 130.96. Sex offenses include rape, sexual abuse, aggravated sexual abuse, and sexual misconduct. The penal code imposes penalties ranging from fines through imprisonment for these sex offenses.

Rape in the first, second, or third degree, are felony crimes all punishable with prison sentences up to twenty-five years. Rape in the first degree occurs when a person engages in nonconsensual sexual intercourse with another by physical force, coercion or threat, or with a person who is incapable of consent by reason of being physically helpless or under age. Under the law, the term "sexual intercourse" has its ordinary meaning and occurs upon any penetration, however slight. Sexual assault that occurs between people who know each other is far more common than stranger rape but is just as serious as any other form of rape.

Aggravated Sexual Abuse in varying degrees are felony crimes that occur when sexual contact consists of the insertion of a finger or foreign object in the sexual organs or rectum of another person causing physical injury to such person.

Sexual misconduct is a class A misdemeanor and occurs when a male engages in sexual intercourse with a female without her consent or engages in deviate sexual intercourse with another person without that person's consent.

New York defines domestic violence in Section 459A of the Social Services Code as an act which would constitute a violation of the penal law, including, but not limited to acts constituting disorderly conduct, harassment, menacing, reckless endangerment, kidnapping, assault, attempted assault, or attempted murder; and (i) such act or acts have resulted in actual physical or emotional injury or have created a substantial risk of physical or emotional harm to such person or such person's child; and (ii) such act or acts are or are alleged to have been committed by a family or household member.

No student or employee shall engage in sexual conduct with another person without effective consent. This includes, but is not limited to, nonconsensual sexual contact and attempted nonconsensual contact. Lack of consent of the victim is an element of every sexual offense defined in the penal code. Lack of consent results from:

a. forcible compulsion; or

b. incapacity to consent; or

c. where the offense charged is sexual abuse or forcible touching, any circumstances, in addition to forcible compulsion or incapacity to consent, in which the victim does not expressly or impliedly acquiesce in the actor's conduct; or

d. where the offense charged is rape in the third degree as defined in subdivision three of section 130.25 of the New York Penal Code, or criminal sexual act in the third degree as defined in subdivision three of section 130.40 of the Penal Code, in addition to forcible compulsion, circumstances under which, at the time of the act of intercourse, oral sexual conduct or anal sexual conduct, the victim clearly expressed that he or she did not consent to engage in such act, and a reasonable person in the actor's situation would have understood such person's words and acts as an expression of lack of consent to such act under all the circumstances.

A person is deemed incapable of consent who is:

a.         less than seventeen years old; or
b.         mentally defective; or
c.         mentally incapacitated; or
d.         physically helpless.

For your reference, the Penal Code provides the following definitions:

"Mentally defective" means that a person suffers from a mental disorder or defect which renders one incapable of appraising the nature of one's conduct.

"Mentally incapacitated" means that a person is rendered temporarily incapable of appraising or controlling one's conduct owing to the influence of a narcotic or intoxicating substance administered without one's consent, or to any other act committed upon the person without consent.

"Physically helpless" means that a person is unconscious or for any other reason is physically unable to communicate unwillingness to an act.

"Forcible compulsion" means to compel by:

a.  use of physical force; or

b.   a threat, express or implied, which places a person in fear of immediate death or physical injury to himself, herself or another person, or in fear that he, she or another person will immediately be kidnapped.

New York defines a stalker in Section 120.45 of the Penal Code as someone who:

Intentionally, and for not legitimate purpose, engages in a course of conduct directed at a specific person, and knows or reasonably should know that such conduct:

•1.    is likely to cause reasonable fear of material harm to the physical health, safety or property of such a person, a member of such person's immediate family or a third party with whom such person is acquainted; or

•2.    causes material harm to the mental or emotional health of such person, where such conduct consists of following, telephoning or initiating communication or contact with such person, a member of such person's immediate family or a third party with whom such person is acquainted, and the actor was previously clearly informed to cease that conduct; or

•3.    is likely to cause such person to reasonably fear that his or her employment, business or career is threatened, where such conduct consists of appearing, telephoning or initiating communication or contact at such person's place of employment or business, and the actor was previously clearly informed to cease that conduct.

If any student or employee believes he or she has been subjected to one of these acts on campus, that person has the right to press criminal charges. The police may conduct an investigation and prosecute the violator.

If a violation of law occurs on the JTS campus, it is also a violation of JTS policy and JTS may institute its own proceeding against the offender(s). Any action by JTS is independent of, and may proceed in parallel with, civil or criminal actions.

JTS reserves the right to conduct its own investigation pursuant to its Policy on Discrimination and Harassment and to determine whether the charges are valid and what, if any, penalty should be imposed, including the continued enrollment or employment of the defendant, and may base its consideration on the overall well-being of the JTS community.